That a number of retailers have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and have permanently closed stores in the fallout of Covid-19 pandemic should surprise no one. Rather, it’s some of those merchants that are shuffling back to turn on the lights, persisting against the odds, that should astound consumers and the competition. We can learn from them.
For one thing, these merchants were struggling against poor health – or at the least revealing symptoms of impending poor health – well before the retail lockdown caused precipitous declines in consumer spending. J. Crew, J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus and GNC, all of which filed for bankruptcy protection, struggled with one systemic issue, for example: They failed to keep up with their customers.