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Retail stores face uphill battle during pandemic

, the seller of wicker chairs and scented candles, said it will go out of business and permanently close all 540 of its stores. The -based company said Tuesday that it was unable to find a buyer for its business after filing for bankruptcy protection earlier this year.

Pier 1 will start going-out-of-business sales as soon as it can reopen stores that have been temporarily shut due to the coronavirus pandemic. The company joins other major retailers to since the disease erupted in the U.S. in March. Apparel maker J. Crew as well as  J.C. Penney and Neiman Marcus have all declared bankruptcy this month. 

Pier 1 traces to a single store in 1962 that sold beanbag chairs and love beads to hippies in , California. It expanded to offer just about anything for the home, from lounge chairs to curtains, and it later adopted the logo: “From Hippie to Hip.” At its height, Pier 1 had more than 1,200 stores.

But in recent years, its business has slowed as it struggled to compete with online retailers Wayfair and , which sell sofas and coffee tables at a lower price and deliver them quickly. Pier 1’s revenue fell from nearly $1.9 billion in 2016 to $1.4 billion last year, with the company losing $310 million in 2019.

and Neiman Marcus feel economic toll of coronavirus pandemic

Pier 1 Robert Riesbeck said in February that the company’s bankruptcy filing was intended to give the company more time and financial flexibility as it sought a buyer. 

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“This decision follows months of working to identify a buyer who would continue to operate our business going forward,” he said in a statement on Tuesday. “Unfortunately, the challenging has been significantly compounded by the profound impact of COVID-19, hindering our ability to secure such a buyer and requiring us to wind down.”

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