The COVID-19 pandemic came as retail stores were experiencing a slight revival after years of falling behind to e-commerce. Shoppers were returning, though profits were still elusive.
Then the pandemic forced stores to close, sending many struggling companies over the edge. Through mid-August, 29 retail companies had filed for bankruptcy protection, including notable brands like J.C. Penney and Neiman Marcus. In the same time period, retailers announced the closure of more than 10,000 stores, and one tracking company said 20,000 to 25,000 stores could close by the end of the year. The holiday shopping forecast is so unpredictable that some forecasters aren’t making predications.