Toys R Us marks the latest company to file for bankruptcy protection, adding to a mounting list of retailers doing so within this year alone. Some retailers have even opted to file for a second time.
Changing consumer taste preferences, shopping behavior and the need for speed offer some of the reasons why the landscape has evolved so rapidly. At many malls across America, foot traffic is on the decline as online shopping surges. Internet behemoth Amazon's encroaching presence is on the minds of many, forcing retailers to either beef up their own digital operations, or risk falling behind.
In 2016, retailers that filed for bankruptcy include Aeropostale, Pacific Sunwear, Sports Authority and American Apparel. Below, CNBC lists several of the retailers that have sought bankruptcy protection this year, from the oldest to the most recent filing:
The U.S. women's apparel chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early January, after closing all 250 of its stores. Private equity firm Sycamore Partners later acquired the company's intellectual property, which included its trademarks, website address and social media accounts. Sycamore Partners' portfolio also includes the Belk department store chain, footwear and accessories retailer Nine West, and women's apparel retailer Coldwater Creek.
Wet Seal filed for bankruptcy protection in early February, following reports that the teen apparel retailer had closed all its stores when it was unable to connect with a buyer. This marked Wet Seal's second attempt to restructure, following a Chapter 11 filing in 2015.
Like some of its mall-based peers, such as American Eagle Outfitters and Aeropostale, falling foot traffic hurt the apparel chain. The California-based retailer had listed assets of $10 million to $50 million, and liabilities of $50 million to $100 million, according to a court filing.
The parent company of Bob's Stores and outdoor retailer Eastern Mountain Sports filed for Chapter 11 in early February. The retailer was owned at the time by private equity firm Versa Capital Management, which acquired Bob's and Eastern Mountain Sports through the bankruptcy last year of Vestis Retail Group, the chains' previous owner.
Most recently, Eastern Outfitters has been working on a deal with U.K. sports retailer Sports Direct International, to decide which stores to shutter. Sports Direct acquired the bankrupt chain in April.
The luxury fashion house filed for bankruptcy at the end of February, when it received a commitment of up to $45 million in debtor-in-possession financing to be used for working capital, and to ensure normal operations during the Chapter 11 process, the company said at the time.
BCBG promised to take steps to close its freestanding stores in Canada, and to consolidate its operations in Europe and Japan — in addition to closing 120 stores as part of restructuring efforts.
The women's clothing chain sought bankruptcy protection in early March, planning to close all of its 140 stores as competition from Internet retailers intensified. Currently, its website says, "We will be back soon!" The apparel retailer was founded in the 1950s, headquartered in Fargo, North Dakota.
The electronics and appliances retailer announced in early March that it was filing Chapter 11, only days after the company announced the closing of nearly 90 stores. Indianapolis-based Hhgregg has signed an agreement with an anonymous party to purchase its assets.
The sale of its assets will allow the retailer to exit restructuring "debt free with significant improvement in liquidity for the future stability of the business."
In March, the electronics chain sought bankruptcy protection for the second time in just over two years. After first filing in 2015, Radio Shack partnered with Sprint to open wireless carrier shops within 1,200 RadioShack locations.
In March, RadioShack said it would shutter 200 stores and would evaluate its options for the others. Sprint then said it would turn "several hundred" of the remaining partnership locations into Sprint-only stores. Notably, General Wireless Operations bought RadioShack after its 2015 bankruptcy.
The century-old, off-price department store chain, filed for bankruptcy in mid-March, with plans to liquidate its inventory and assets. Nebraska-based Gordmans was operating over 100 stores in 22 states at the time, and said it planned to run its business "as usual without interruption" throughout the liquidation process.
The outdoor chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March, also closing 32 underperforming stores at the time. Then, in May, Gander Mountain and Overton's — its boating business — were acquired by Camping World Holdings out of bankruptcy auction.
(Disclosure: Marcus Lemonis of CNBC's "The Profit" is chairman and CEO of Camping World.)
The off-price shoe retailer sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the beginning of April, with the goal of boosting the company's balance sheet and restructuring its debt load. At the time, Payless had over 4,400 stores in more than 30 countries, according to its website. Payless marked the 10th retailer to file in 2017, but it recently emerged from bankruptcy protection in August.
The teen clothing company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in mid-May, hoping to reduce its debt and provide additional capital in support of restructuring. The retail chain, which operates more than 1,100 stores, listed its assets and liabilities in the range of $1 billion and $10 billion, according to a court filing. Just earlier this month, Rue21 received court approval to exit bankruptcy.
The children's clothing retailer filed for bankruptcy protection in early June, after it missed a June 1 debt payment. James Mesterharm, Gymboree's chief restructuring officer, said in a court filing that the retailer was hurt by lower-cost competition from rivals Children's Place and Gap, both of which have less debt financing.
The Chapter 11 action should reduce Gymboree's debts by more than $900 million, and it will shutter some 375 stores, according to court filings.
In June, the teen apparel retailer parent company, Cornerstone Apparel, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Over the past few years, Papaya had been opening new stores at a rapid clip. "The expansion effort took a heavy financial toll on the business operations of the debtor," Papaya's chief financial officer, Tae Yi, said in a court filing.
In turn, Papaya has asked the court for the ability to exit a handful of leases for its stores. The company now aims to shrink its brick-and-mortar footprint.
The jeans designer is "seeking a revival" through its Chapter 11 action, which it filed for in early July. True Religion said in a court filing that it's aiming to stay in business, but is also is planning to shutter an undisclosed number of stores.
Founded in 2002, True Religion has roughly 140 stores and has sold its products in various department stores across the United States.
A chain of 60 Signature stores, with 1,400 other retail locations selling its products worldwide, Alfred Angelo Bridal filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation in July. The retailer has said it plans to liquidate its assets. The news caused an uproar among brides who were left without dresses.
The fragrance retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy toward the end of August. Perfumania said at the time that it planned to recapitalize, trimming its store count to "better align with current consumer shopping patterns," "increase investments in its e-commerce business," and to emerge as a private company. According to court papers, the company plans to close 64 of its 226 stores during the bankruptcy process.
Vitamin World filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early September, with plans to close at least 50 stores as part of its restructuring. The retailer has roughly 330 stores. Vitamin World blamed its bankruptcy on "significant supply chain and ingredient availability disruptions" along with "above-market rents and underperforming retail stores," according to court papers.
The footwear maker
The retailer has said it expects to complete Chapter 11 restructuring, which could include a sale to a third party, within roughly four months.
The latest retailer to file for voluntary chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. the iconic toy retailer did so earlier this month, seeking to relieve itself of debt. Toys R Us has $4.9 billion in debt, $400 million of which has interest payments due in 2018 and $1.7 billion of which is due in 2019. The company has said it will continue to operate as usual its approximately 1,600 Toy R Us and Babies R Us stores globally, ahead of the key holiday shopping season.