Anybody with eyes knows that 2020 was a crazy year that brought instability for so many. The economic crisis precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic tore through so many lives and businesses, causing pain, heartache, and headaches. Few sectors of the economy suffered from the downturn like the brick-and-mortar retail industry. In the midst of the pandemic, many consumers turned to online retailers like Amazon to supply all of their retail needs. This left stores that relied on physical locations helpless as many areas set strict limits on which businesses could open and how many people they could serve at a time. Many people were afraid even to go outside, and businesses suffered as a result.
Lord & Taylor was America’s oldest department store. They had been in business for almost 200 years, but they recently announced the closing of every single one of their American locations. The company had been sold to a French Company the previous year and had since filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Initially, they planned to keep open fourteen stores in the US. This decision was reversed and now the company is going entirely out of business in America. Lord & Taylor first opened its doors in Manhattan in 1824 as a dry goods store. From this one location in New York, Lord & Taylor spread all across America with a great number of physical locations. The brand had been sold to the French clothing company Le Tote the previous year before the pandemic hit. Both brands filed for bankruptcy in Virginia in 2020. Le Tote’s chief restructuring officer, Ed Kremer, stated that he found liquidating all of the brand’s physical locations to be the most prudent measure for succeeding with the brand going forward. It is unclear what exactly the future of Lord & Taylor will be.
There are many companies that are going the way of Lord & Taylor here in the age of the coronavirus pandemic. Brick and mortar locations had already been struggling in recent years. Online retailers like Amazon had been gobbling up market shares of the retail sector at an impressive rate prior to the pandemic, but a combination of public fears and government policies served to accelerate business trends that had already been a decade in the making. Now, Lord & Taylor’s closing might be a herald of things to come for every company that relies on brick and mortar locations. Most people already prefer to shop for clothes online. On Amazon, you can find almost anything you want, and for cheap. No more traveling to a dozen stores to find the best prices. This might be great for consumers, but it presents a great number of challenges for traditional retailers. That’s why many companies are rushing as fast as they can to develop online stores that can help them compete in the new age of internet retail. Whether the strategy is successful remains to be seen, but one thing is certain. After the internet and coronavirus, the retail world will never be the same.