Things just seem to keep getting worse for the troubled brick-and-mortar retail world.
After years of struggling to compete with all-powerful Amazon, retailers have been closing hundreds of stores amid declining sales. Analysts are even predicting that one-quarter of America’s malls could close within the next five years.
And in at least one way, the situation is worse for retailers now than it was during the doldrums brought on by the financial crisis, a report released last week by Moody’s Investors Service indicates. The new report gives ratings of Caa or worse—defined as “subject to very high credit risk”—to 22 major retailers.
That’s up from 19 when a similar report was issued in February, and it tops the high (also 19) recorded during the Great Recession. (And indeed, one of the 22 filed for bankruptcy shortly after the report was released.)
Distressed retailers like Sears, David’s Bridal, and Neiman Marcus are facing a “perfect storm,” senior Moody’s retail analyst Charles O’Shea explained to USA Today, referencing the title of the famous Sebastian Junger book (and subsequent movie). “You’re on the Andrea Gail right now, and the water’s starting to get very choppy.”
Spoiler alert: No one on the ship survived.
Today’s retail storm centers on Amazon, and the widespread shift to online shopping in general. Still, Moody’s notes that only 15% of the retailers it analyzes are currently at a high risk of bankruptcy. “The majority of retailers remain fundamentally healthy,” O’Shea said in a press release accompanying the new Moody’s report. “But as select groups of retailers continue to deteriorate—in particular department stores and specialty retailers—we believe the distressed ranks will keep growing.”
Here are the 22 chains that Moody’s says are at serious risk of bankruptcy.