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  • MAP Asia Pacific Ltd

The year that changed RETAIL forever

For retailers, it felt like there was a lot of bad news in 2019. Little did we know what 2020 had in store. Except... to some extent, we did know.

Many of the legacy retailers that survived a particularly tough year — think: J.Crew, Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penney — were already hanging on by a thread before the pandemic, with sinking sales, reliance on physical retail and large amounts of debt coming up due. As "retail prophet" Doug Stephens put it to me in an email: "The early retail victims of Covid-19 suffered from a variety of pre-existing conditions."

These companies were in situations that would've been nearly impossible to rebound from even without a global public health crisis. Retail analysts had already predicted that some of them would declare bankruptcy in 2020 — add a nearly-worldwide lockdown that mandated temporary store closures into the mix, and their fate was sealed early on.

That being said, Covid-19 definitely made things even worse. So far, there have been an estimated 29 retail bankruptcies and 8,400 permanent store closures this year, with more predicted to come, meaning 2019's record of 9,302 closures will likely be broken. According to Business of Fashion and McKinsey & Co.'s The State of Fashion 2021 report, fashion companies specifically are expected to post approximately a 90% decline in profit in 2020, after a 4% rise the previous year.



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