The 14 Biggest Retail Bankruptcies in the Last 10 Years

Witness the unraveling of once-powerful empires in the retail landscape.

bankruptcy and crisis
Updated July 18, 2024
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In the dynamic world of retail, bankruptcies are a sobering reality — even for some of the most iconic brands.

Over the past decade, many household names have succumbed to financial woes. In the process, they have reshaped the retail landscape.

While a closing retailer can help you keep more cash in your wallet by giving you one less place to shop, it’s always sad to see a major store fold up its tents. Here are some of the biggest retail bankruptcies of the past decade.

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Bed Bath & Beyond

Sundry Photography/Adobe bed bath & beyond store entrance

Assets: $4.4 billion

In April 2023, Bed Bath & Beyond — a stalwart in the home goods industry — filed for bankruptcy, succumbing to years of financial challenges.

Shortly after Bed Bath & Beyond closed its last physical location, relaunched the brand online.

Ascena Retail Group

Kristina Blokhin/Adobe ann taylor sign

Assets: $13.69 billion

Ascena Retail Group once boasted brands such as Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant. However, it sought refuge in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July 2020.

Eventually, Premium Apparel LLC acquired Ascena's assets.

Sears Holdings Corp.

TOimages/Adobe toronto sears store entrance

Assets: $7.26 billion

Once a titan of American retail, Sears Holdings Corp. filed for bankruptcy in October 2018 after years of declining revenues and massive store closures.

Despite attempts to stay afloat, Sears succumbed to fierce competition from rivals such as Walmart.

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Nine West Holdings Inc.

JHVEPhoto/Adobe nine west store

Assets: $988 million

Nine West Holdings Inc. faced bankruptcy in April 2018, unable to weather the storm of online competition.

It eventually re-emerged under a new name, Premier Brands.

Claire's Stores

OceanProd/Adobe claires accessories store sign

Assets: $2 billion

In March 2018, jewelry retailer Claire's Stores filed for bankruptcy due to losing business as more people shifted from shopping at the mall to buying things online.

The company emerged from bankruptcy later that year.

Tailored Brands

jetcityimage/Adobe mens wearhouse retail strip mall

Assets: $2.48 billion

The parent company of Men's Wearhouse filed for bankruptcy in August 2020. It eventually emerged from bankruptcy later that year.

J. Crew Group Inc.

Sundry Photography/Adobe j crew logo

Assets: $1.59 billion

Known for its preppy aesthetic, J. Crew Group Inc. sought bankruptcy protection in May 2020, becoming one of the pandemic's first major retail casualties.

J. Crew quickly emerged from bankruptcy later that year.

Neiman Marcus

Roman Tiraspolsky/Adobe neiman marcus store

Assets: $7.55 billion

In May 2020, luxury department store chain Neiman Marcus filed for bankruptcy protection, citing “unprecedented disruption” caused by the pandemic.

Months later, the company emerged from bankruptcy.

Toys ‘R’ Us

Ricochet64/Adobe toys r us logo

Assets: $1 billion to $10 billion

A beloved fixture in the toy industry, Toys "R" Us faced bankruptcy in late 2017, weighed down by a mountain of debt. It closed its last store in 2021.

More recently, Toys "R" Us has been resurrected, however: The retailer can now be found in Macy’s stores from coast to coast.

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J.C. Penney Co.

jetcityimage/Adobe j c penney store logo

Assets: $7.99 billion

After more than 100 years in business, department store chain J.C. Penney Co. filed for bankruptcy protection in May 2020.

The company was unable to navigate mounting debt. However, a judge allowed the chain to continue under new owners.

General Atlantic & Pacific Tea (A&P)

Piman Khrutmuang/Adobe shopping organic fresh fruits

Assets: $1 billion

Struggling to compete with rivals such as Walmart and Whole Foods, supermarket chain A&P filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2015 for the second time in five years.

A&P; eventually put its stores up for sale.


jetcityimage/Adobe shuttered radioshack location

Assets: $1.59 billion

After years of declining sales, electronics retailer RadioShack filed for bankruptcy in February 2015, marking the end of an era for the once-popular chain.

Two years later, RadioShack filed for bankruptcy a second time. Last year, Unicomer Group acquired RadioShack’s intellectual property assets.

Sports Authority

beeboys/Adobe sports authority corporate sign logo

Assets: $1 billion

Owned by private equity group Leonard Green & Partners, Sports Authority filed for bankruptcy in 2016, unable to shed its massive debt burden.

Initially, it hoped to emerge from bankruptcy and continue. Eventually, the company’s stores were sold to liquidators.


LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe filling in bankruptcy form

Assets: $407 million

Specialty retailer Brookstone faced bankruptcy in early 2014, unable to overcome its high debt load.

However, the retailer has managed to survive bankruptcy and now sells its products online.

Bottom line

zimmytws/Adobe gavel-on-bankruptcy-law-books

The biggest retail bankruptcies of the past decade make clear that the industry is undergoing a seismic transformation. In particular, consumers have discovered the smart shopping hack of purchasing their goods online.

From traditional department stores to specialty chains, no retailer is immune to the pressures of changing consumer behaviors and economic uncertainty.

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Author Details

Adam Palasciano

Adam Palasciano is a personal finance-obsessed and money-savvy individual who loves to hash out content on all things saving money. He specializes in writing millennial-friendly personal finance content, covering topics ranging from trending financial news, debt, credit cards, cryptocurrency, and more.