Lord & Taylor Files For Bankruptcy, Joins List Of Retailers Impacted By COVID-19 Pandemic

Cheryl Phillips

Lord & Taylor, one of the oldest department stores in the United States, has filed for bankruptcy. According to Forbes, about half of the clothing retailer's 38 brick-and-mortar stores will begin liquidation sales this week after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a Virginia court on Sunday.

In a message to its customers on the Lord & Taylor website, the company noted that it is looking for a new owner after the COVID-19 pandemic placed an "unprecedented strain" on the already struggling department store chain.

Last year, after selling the business to French rental clothing business Le Tote, the fashion retailer permanently closed its iconic flagship 11-story building on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Lord & Taylor stated there are no plans to make changes to its online site, but store closing signs were already posted in the windows at many locations by early Sunday morning.

Despite the commencement of liquidation sales, Forbes reported most locations hope to keep their doors open through the upcoming holiday season. The nearly 200-year-old retailer joins a growing list of retail stores and restaurants that are reorganizing or permanently shuttering their businesses during the pandemic that has sparked a nationwide economic crisis.

Now that more people are working from home due to the coronavirus outbreak, stores that sell business attire have been struggling to stay afloat, with shoppers purchasing more comfortable, casual clothing, per The New York Times.

In addition to Lord & Taylor's bankruptcy announcement, The New York Times reported that Tailored Brands, the parent company of Men's Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank, also filed for Chapter 11 on Sunday. Once a popular destination for purchasing suits and business attire, they announced ahead of the filing that it will close at least 500 stores across the country.

Big box retailers, including Walmart and Target, have announced that they will not open on Thanksgiving to kick off Black Friday sales, but the liquidation sales that are popping up due to bankruptcy filings may outdo the discounts offered during holiday sales.

Lord & Taylor is just one of the dozens of retailers that are discounting merchandise ahead of possible permanent closure. Although some stores were already struggling due to the state-mandated closures in the early weeks of the pandemic, the COVID-19 health crisis has led to a number of retailers touting in-store and online sales after announcing bankruptcy. Ann Taylor, Neiman Marcus, JCPenney, J.Crew, LOFT, Lane Bryant, and Brooks Brothers are just a few on the list, offering shoppers discounts as high as 70 percent off retail price.