Popular Clothing Chain Preparing For Bankruptcy, Fate Of 500 Stores Unknown

By Dave Basner

February 20, 2024

Photo: Getty Images

All sorts of stores have been closing recently. Bed Bath & Beyond, a big box retailer, declared bankruptcy and closed all their locations, as did home goods chains like Tuesday Morning and Christmas Tree Shops. Restaurants like Pizza Hut, Boston Market, TGI Fridays, Popeyes and more are also shuttering locations for financial reasons, as are pharmacies like Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid. The challenges are also hitting clothing stores since, according to the Wall Street Journal, Express is preparing for a possible bankruptcy in the coming weeks.

Insiders told the Journal that the 40-year-old fast fashion retailer is readying a debt restructuring that could include filing for bankruptcy. It's been a long time coming since Express struggled during the pandemic as fewer people needed the business casual apparel they sell. Then, in the years since, consumers have been more interested in comfortable athleisure wear than in the clothes for sale at Express. In 2020, they closed 91 stores to offset the losses, but have not yet been able to turn things around, even though they have been trying to.

In November, CEO Stewart Glendinning explained their strategy, stating, "We're actively adjusting our assortment architecture through a better balance in wearing occasion, price points, and a focus on more casual tops and bottoms." Express has also started offering discounts to help get more customers in the doors. Currently, everything they sell is marked down 40%.

Making things even harder on the brand is that competitors, like Zara, Uniqlo and Ross, are not only outperforming them but opening new stores as well. If Express does declare bankruptcy, there is no word yet on what will happen to their 500+ locations across the country.

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