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Pier 1 Imports latest casualty of government shutdowns

Another well-known American retailer is the latest casualty of government-imposed shut-downs. Pier 1 Imports announced Tuesday it is seeking bankruptcy court approval to wind down its business entirely after it was not able to find a buyer due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It said in a press release that it plans to sell its inventory and remaining assets, including its intellectual property and online operations.

Government policies have taken a toll on many iconic retail outlets. So far, high-end department store chain Neiman Marcus, apparel maker J.Crew, rural chain Stage Stores and mall icon J.C. Penney have filed for bankruptcy in recent weeks. Stage Stores has said it will liquidate all of its stores if it’s unable to find a buyer as well.  Other retailers on a bankruptcy “watch list” include Dillards, Macys, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, Ross, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Foot Locker, Belk and Burlington.

Pier 1 said it will commence the winding down of its business “as soon as reasonably possible,” once its stores are able to reopen to liquidate.

“This decision follows months of working to identify a buyer who would continue to operate our business going forward,” CFO Robert Riesbeck said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the challenging retail environment 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.”

Pier 1, based in Forth Worth, Texas, had filed for bankruptcy protection in February but planned to keep about 450 shops open. After governments across the country forced businesses to close, some say unconstitutionally, Pier 1 had no options left when potential buyers were scared away from further government actions.

Pier 1 said Tuesday that its debtor-in-possession lenders have agreed to allow the retailer to overdraw its DIP facility by roughly $40 million to support its efforts to liquidate.

With so many brick and mortar retailers at risk of bankruptcy, communities across the nation may regret their decisions to close down as main street to the street leading to the shopping mall, become empty. The hole in local government budgets may not be repairable according to economists.

–Dwight Widaman and Wire services

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