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Companies That Have Filed for Bankruptcy Since the Pandemic Began — and Which Ones Could Be Next

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Guitar Center
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Pandemic Bankruptcies So Far

Retailers had a brutal 2019, and while predictions for 2020 were similarly grim, they didn't include the coronavirus. Now a growing number of companies are waving a white flag as COVID-19 wreaks havoc on not just retail, but other parts of the global economy. Here are some of the most prominent companies to file for bankruptcy since mid-March and a slew of big names that are at risk of following.

Related: These Companies That Filed for Bankruptcy Also Awarded Their CEOs Huge Bonuses

Guitar Center
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Guitar Center

This strip-mall staple for musicians of all stripes, the biggest seller of instruments in the U.S., has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after a tumultuous year. Pandemic-related store closings and increasing competition from other online instrument sellers helped put the chain in a cash crunch, analysts say. While Guitar Center tried to stop the bleeding with online music lessons, that wasn't enough to combat falling sales. 

 Norwegian Air
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Friendly's
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Friendly's

Best known for its tempting menu of Fribble milkshakes and kid-friendly sundaes, Friendly's filed for bankruptcy in early November, its second filing in a decade. The chain of family restaurants last filed in 2011, shrinking from more than 400 restaurants at that time to 130 locations today. The company blames COVID-19 for crushing its primarily dine-in business, but says most of its restaurants will remain open.

Related: Chain Restaurants That Are Closing Locations This Year — and Which Ones Could Be Next

You Don't Mind the Mall
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CBL Properties

Many mall-based retailers have gone bankrupt in 2020, so it makes sense that their landlords will eventually start to follow. CBL Properties, one of the nation's most prominent mall owners, filed for Chapter 11 in early November, on the heels of tenants including JCPenney and Ascena Retail Group, owner of Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant. CBL owns more than 100 properties in 26 states but says it expects malls to continue to operate normally while it restructures. 

Related: 10 Creative Abandoned Mall Makeovers

Rubio's Coastal Grill
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Rubio's Coastal Grill

Even the strong-performing fast-casual restaurant segment has struggled because of the pandemic. Rubio's Coastal Grill, a 170-restaurant chain based in California, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the end of October, saying COVID-19 made bouncing back from already-slumping sales impossible. The company has more than $80 million in debt and has closed more than two dozen restaurants. 

Studio Movie Grill
James H./Yelp

Studio Movie Grill

Dinner and a movie are the classic night out — except, of course, during a global pandemic. Studio Movie Grill, a restaurant and theater chain with 33 locations sprinkled across the country, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October and drained almost all its cash reserves. Although the company was among the fastest growing in the theater business just two years ago, the pandemic led to a three-month closing, and several locations remain closed to this day.

Ruby Tuesday
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Ruby Tuesday

Like many casual dining chains, Ruby Tuesday was fighting for survival against fast-casual upstarts long before the pandemic. But COVID-19 made it nearly impossible to stay afloat, and the Tennessee-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October. It will permanently close 185 restaurants while it restructures, which leaves 236 company-owned locations as well as an unknown number of franchise-owned restaurants, according to USA Today. 

It'Sugar
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It'Sugar

It's been a sour year for It'Sugar, a candy chain with about 100 locations across the country, including in tourist hot spots like Las Vegas, Orlando, and Myrtle Beach. The company filed for bankruptcy at the end of September, saying the pandemic has tanked demand and sales. It's also one of many companies that have stopped paying rent, noting that it has received notices of default from the landlords of 49 locations. 

Related: Companies Refusing to Pay Rent as Millions of Americans Face Eviction

Sizzler
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Sizzler USA

Yes, Sizzler is still around, and the pandemic isn't making it any easier for this throwback of a steakhouse chain to hold on. The company  filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late September, citing a huge decline in dine-in business and trouble negotiating rent relief with its landlords. It has closed six restaurants permanently. There are more than 100 locations, but most are franchise-owned and will be unaffected by the filing.

New York Sports Clubs
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Town Sports International

A parent company of prominent East Coast gyms including New York Sports Club, Town Sports International says COVID-19 closures have caused a substantial drop in revenue. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in mid-September and reported that many of its more than 200 locations are still closed. Town Sports' other chains include Washington Sports Club, Philadelphia Sports Club, Boston Sports Club, and Lucille Roberts. 

Related: 14 Industries That Have Been Hit Hardest by the Pandemic

Century 21
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Century 21

Iconic New York-area discounter Century 21 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September and said it will close all of its 13 stores, blaming the collapse on insurers' refusal to pay for "losses it has suffered" related to COVID-19. The company says insurance money helped it survive the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, but insurers have mostly said their policies don't cover pandemic-related losses. 

Related: How to Shop Going-Out-of-Business Sales

Lord & Taylor
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Lord & Taylor

Lord & Taylor, the nation's oldest department store, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early August but recently decided to pull the plug on all its stores, a reversal from an earlier decision to keep at least some locations open. Liquidation sales have begun at all 38 stores and online, officially ending the chain's storied 194-year run. 

Related: 18 Iconic Department Stores We Miss

stein mart
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Stein Mart

Discounter Stein Mart was in the process of being sold to a private equity firm when the pandemic hit, disrupting what was supposed to be a turnaround plan. The chain sought government aid to stay afloat for some of the year, but filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August citing "significant financial distress" caused by both COVID-19 and its customers' changing buying habits. Most of its 300 stores will close, the company says.  

Virgin Atlantic
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Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia

Airlines were one of the first industries to feel the pain of the pandemic, and several have already filed for bankruptcy as profits have plummeted. Virgin Atlantic joined the fray in August, filing for Chapter 15 bankruptcy as it works to firm up a bailout aided by the British government. Its sister airline, Virgin Australia, filed for bankruptcy in April after the Australian government decided against an $888 million bailout. Delta owns 49% of Virgin Atlantic.

Related: Which Airlines Are Taking the Most COVID-19 Precautions?

Men's Wearhouse
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California Pizza Kitchen
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California Pizza Kitchen

This casual dining chain, a staple at malls and shopping centers across the country, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late July. The most prominent restaurant to file since Chuck E. Cheese, California Pizza Kitchen has not said whether it will close any of its more than 200 locations, most of which are several months behind on rent payments.

Remington
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Remington

Though gun sales are skyrocketing during the pandemic, that hasn't saved Remington, one of America's oldest gun makers, from declaring bankruptcy. Remington first filed for Chapter 11 two years ago and had been in talks to strike an ownership deal with the Navajo Nation, but those negotiations recently stalled. The company has struggled to keep up with debt payments and also faces major lawsuits connected to the shooting of elementary school children in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, in 2012.

Ann Taylor Loft
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Ascena Retail Group

Best known for mall staples Ann Taylor, Loft, and Lane Bryant, Ascena filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of July. The company plans to close 1,600 of its 2,800 stores, including most of its Justice tween clothing stores and all of its Catherine's plus-size clothing stores. Last year, Ascena closed all of its Dressbarn stores last year and has struggled with falling store foot traffic.

Briggs & Stratton
Home Depot

Briggs & Stratton

One of the nation's most prominent producers of gas engines declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in mid-July. The Wisconsin-based company was in trouble before the pandemic, its sales crunched by profit-hungry big-box retailers and the near-total failure of Sears, which sold Briggs & Stratton-powered Craftsman tools and lawn equipment.

Paper Store
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Paper Store

This Northeastern chain selling stationery, ornaments, and other giftable items filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July, blaming pandemic-related store shutdowns. It will search for a new owner but keep its doors open in the meantime.

New York & Company
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New York & Co.

RTW Retailwinds, the parent company of women's fashion retailer New York & Co., filed for bankruptcy in July after losing millions and defaulting on payments to landlords and vendors in the wake of COVID-19 closings. The company expects to shut most or all of its nearly 380 stores, and liquidation sales are already beginning in some locations.

Muji
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Muji

Like many retailers, this Japanese home-goods chain with locations around the world saw its stores closed temporarily because of the pandemic. But its U.S. stores, clustered mostly in New York and California, have been struggling to turn a profit for several years. The chain says it will refocus on its online business and close "a small number" of stores while in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which it declared in July.

Brooks Brothers
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Brooks Brothers

Brooks Brothers has long been on uncertain footing as employers have relaxed formal dress codes, lessening demand for its pricey suits. The chain noted for its menswear filed for bankruptcy in July and is closing roughly 50 stores while it continues to search for a buyer. It will also halt manufacturing at three U.S. factories.

Sur La Table Storefront
Sur La Table Storefront by Ajay Suresh (CC BY)

Sur La Table

This specialty cookware retailer joined Brooks Brothers in filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early July and was recently sold for close to $90 million. The new buyers plan to keep at least 50 of the chain's 120 stores open. The pandemic forced Sur La Table to not only shutter most stores earlier this year but cancel its in-store cooking classes, a cornerstone of the brand.

Lucky Brand
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Lucky Brand

Lucky Brand, known for its denim and bohemian-inspired apparel, filed for bankruptcy at the beginning of July. Like many well-known mall retailers, Lucky Brand had been struggling with slumping sales over the past decade as would-be buyers started turning to e-commerce instead. It is closing 13 stores and has found a buyer in SPARC Group, owner of Aeropostale and Nautica.

Aeromexico Check In Counter
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Wendy's
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NPC International

The largest operator of iconic fast-food brands Pizza Hut and Wendy's has been on shaky footing since the beginning of the year, with a debt burden approaching $1 billion. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the beginning of July.

Cirque du Soleil
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Cirque du Soleil

The legendary producer of mind-bending acrobatics shows in Las Vegas and elsewhere announced in late June that it had filed for bankruptcy and is laying off about 3,500 people. Cirque du Soleil attributed the moves to challenges brought about by the pandemic. The company says it hopes to restructure its debt with the help of the Canadian government and private equity firms.

Chuck E. Cheese's
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Chuck E. Cheese

The parent company of this iconic kids' pizza chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of June even as many of its 550 locations reopened across the country. The CEO called COVID-19 and its closures "the most challenging event in our company's history," and the company eventually announced that it will permanently shutter close to three dozen locations.

Related: 12 Places That Kids Love But Parents Hate

In Trouble: GNC
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GNC

The inescapable vitamin retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of June, blaming a pandemic-related sales slump and mounting debt, among other factors. The company is putting itself up for sale and says it may close more than 1,200 of its 7,300 stores.

24 Hour Fitness
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24 Hour Fitness

The national fitness chain joined Gold's Gym in pandemic-related bankruptcy with a Chapter 11 filing in June. The company said its money troubles were a direct result of COVID-19 closings and announced that about 100 of its 400 locations will be permanently shut down as it reorganizes.

Tuesday Morning
G C./Yelp

Tuesday Morning

This Dallas-based discount home-goods chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of May, saying it was the only way to bounce back from two months of pandemic-related store closings. Part of the reorganization: The company will close 230 of its 700 stores.

LATAM Airlines
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LATAM Airlines

Latin America's largest carrier filed for Chapter 11 protection at the end of May. Unlike chief competitor Avianca, it was on solid financial footing before most flights were grounded, according to Reuters.

Hertz
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JCPenney
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JCPenney

JCPenney has been on retail analysts' watch list for a while, and the beleaguered department store chain finally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in mid-May. The company said the pandemic had torpedoed ongoing efforts to bolster its finances. It will be closing 240 stores as part of its restructuring plan, but a tentative purchase by mall landlords Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Group may save the roughly 600 remaining locations

Related: 30 Things to Buy at JCPenney While You Still Can

Pier 1 Imports
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Souplantation
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Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes

While most major companies are restructuring in bankruptcy, the parent company of prominent buffet chains Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes is closing all locations for good. Garden Fresh Restaurants filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in mid-May, saying federal regulations forbidding self-service in restaurants made salvaging the business too difficult.

J. Crew
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J. Crew

Preppy-apparel stalwart J. Crew has been in trouble for years, a victim of lower mall foot traffic and the shift to online shopping even as its Madewell brand found a following. It filed in early May for Chapter 11 protection, but experts say that probably would have happened regardless of the pandemic temporarily shuttering stores. A bankruptcy court recently accepted J. Crew's restructuring plan, paving the way for the chain to exit Chapter 11 in September.

Gold's Gym
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Gold's Gym

The pandemic has been crushing for gyms, and Gold's Gym announced in early May that it was filing for bankruptcy, saying "no single factor" has harmed its business more. Though the chain closed 30 locations permanently in April, the rest of its locations will stay open where permitted as it reorganizes.

Neiman Marcus
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Neiman Marcus

Department stores have long been struggling to adapt to a world increasingly dependent on ecommerce, and the "unprecedented disruption" caused by COVID-19 forced the hand of debt-saddled luxury chain Neiman Marcus. It filed for Chapter 11 protection in early May and says it will draw on $675 million in creditor funds to operate for the next several months while reorganizing.

Avianca
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Avianca

This prominent Latin American airline filed for Chapter 11 protection in mid-May, directly citing "the unforeseeable impact" of the pandemic on business. The company says 88% of the countries where it flies are under total or partial travel lockdown, but analysts note that the airline was already in trouble from negative credit ratings and sudden leadership changes.

Goody's Store
Wikimedia Commons

Stage Stores

This parent company of well-known chains including Bealls, Goody's, and Palais Royal also sought Chapter 11 protection in mid-May, a move being discussed before the pandemic. Though it is seeking a buyer, Stage is liquidating inventory at its more than 700 stores.

Editors' Note: A previous version of this story included an image of a store owned by Florida-based Bealls Inc., which is not affiliated with Stage Stores. We regret the error.

Hits Keep Coming
helen89/istockphoto

Aldo

This footwear retailer announced in early May that it had filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the United States and is seeking similar relief in Canada, where it is based, and Switzerland. While it says it had faced challenges before the pandemic, COVID-19 "has put too much pressure on our business and our cash flows."

Related: 25 Canadian Stores That Americans Love 

Frontier Communications
AlbertPego/istockphoto

Frontier Communications

While most communications businesses are well-positioned to survive and even thrive during the pandemic, Frontier Communications filed for Chapter 11 in April, admitting it's been too slow to upgrade its network, especially as customers expect faster internet speeds. The company has pledged to maintain service while restructuring.

SpeedCast International
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SpeedCast International

Satellite communications company SpeedCast International, the company likely responsible for the internet connection on your last cruise, filed for bankruptcy in April after sustaining a one-two punch. Cruises have been halted because of the pandemic, and its other major customer, the oil industry, is struggling as oil prices bottom out.

Related: 1 in 4 Avid Cruise Goers: 'I'll Never Go on a Cruise Again'

True Religion
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Dean & DeLuca
wdstock/istockphoto

Dean & DeLuca

Long a shell of its former self, gourmet grocer Dean & DeLuca filed for bankruptcy at the end of March. The grocer, bought by a Thai company in 2014, closed its last remaining store in October and reports that it has one remaining employee and more than a half-million dollars in liabilities. Still, it hopes to restructure and eventually reopen stores in New York City.

Francesca's
Laura A./Yelp

In Trouble: Francesca's

This apparel chain aimed at young women recently said it would close 140 of its roughly 700 stores by the end of January 2021. Like many mall-based retailers, it had already been trying to boost sagging sales before the pandemic forced many of its stores to close, and  foot traffic has continued to lag even after they reopened. 

dave & Buster's
Tim Gray/istockphoto

In Trouble: Dave & Buster's

Considering Dave & Buster's is more or less a Chuck E. Cheese for adults, it's no surprise the chain is struggling. The company has warned that bankruptcy is inevitable if it can't reach a deal with its lenders and recently announced it will be laying off 1,300 workers. The company has been forced to shut down multiplayer games and reconfigure its arcades to allow for social distancing, and revenue was down 85% during the second quarter of 2020.

Checkers/Rally's
jetcityimage/istockphoto

In Trouble: Checkers and Rally's

Though these drive-thru-based burger joints seem well-suited to weather the coronavirus crisis, analysts say the chains were laboring under a high debt load before the pandemic.

 J.Jill
J.Jill

In Trouble: J.Jill

Like all too many mall-based retailers, J.Jill has woes that extend far beyond COVID-19. The women's apparel chain saw big losses last year and is now struggling to pay its creditors after pandemic-related closures ate further into profits.

Orca whale
StevepUK/istockphoto

In Trouble: SeaWorld

Like many theme parks, SeaWorld is reopening, but there are rumblings that bankruptcy could be in the cards for the iconic Orlando, Florida-based company. Experts say SeaWorld has missed payments on major construction projects, and others point out that it isn't as diversified as Disney or Universal, deepening the impact of recent shutdowns.

Potbelly
RiverNorthPhotography/istockphoto

In Trouble: Potbelly Sandwich Shop

This fast-casual sandwich chain may be exploring ways to restructure in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It already announced in May that it would close as many as 100 locations across the country.

AMC Theatres
MarkHatfield/istockphoto

In Trouble: AMC Theatres

AMC has acknowledged it "cannot be certain" that it will be able to stay afloat, especially with limited new movie releases and the possibility of more pandemic-related closings. Deals with lenders have made the financial dangers to the nation's largest movie theater chain less immediate, though.

Sears Price-Match Policy
jetcityimage/istockphoto
112515 stores closed on thanksgiving slide 7 fs
Susan Montgomery/shutterstock

In Trouble: GameStop

The retailer's stock has been on a steady decline for seven years as gamers continue to turn to game downloads that don't require a store visit. At the end of March, the company announced it would be closing 300 stores permanently; it closed a similar number in 2019.

Rite Aid
Andrei Stanescu/istockphoto

In Trouble: Rite Aid

Rite Aid continues to face steep competition from the likes of CVS and Walgreens, as well as big-box stores like Target and Walmart. It also has billions in debt and little ability to diversify, analysts say.

Party City
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In Trouble: Party City

Already struggling after a helium shortage and poor Halloween sales, Party City is in even deeper trouble because of the pandemic and social-distancing guidelines that make most parties a no-go. The company has reportedly hired a firm to help it plan a potential restructuring plan.

Forever 21
zodebala/istockphoto

In Trouble: Forever 21

A new owner recently acquired Forever 21, which already filed for bankruptcy last year. While store closings were already in the mix, the pandemic makes the company's fragile reorganization especially fraught.

In Trouble: L Brands
brightstorm/istockphoto
Steak 'n Shake
Sean Pavone/shutterstock

In Trouble: Steak 'n Shake

Analysts warn that this quick-service staple will have an especially hard time refinancing its loans and avoiding bankruptcy as pandemic-related shutdowns further eat into earnings.