Feb 19, 2019 - Economy

Payless' second bankruptcy follows a pattern

Data: BankruptcyData; Chart: Axios Visuals

Payless ShoeSource has filed for bankruptcy protection — and intends to close all of its stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico — just 2 years after it emerged from its last bankruptcy proceeding.

Why it matters: Payless' second bankruptcy follows a clear trend in the retail sector.

By the numbers: According to an Axios analysis of BankruptcyData research, 8 out of the 10 biggest bankruptcy declarations (by assets) in which the company remained intact were followed by another bankruptcy protection filing.

  • The largest was Kmart, which emerged from its 2002 bankruptcy and later merged with Sears. The merged company filed for bankruptcy last year.
  • Payless Cashway — not to be confused with the discount shoe retailer — filed for bankruptcy in 1997, then went out of business following a subsequent bankruptcy in 2005.
  • Hills Department Stores, No. 4 on the list, was acquired by Ames 7 years after it emerged from bankruptcy protection. Ames itself went bankrupt in 1990, then went bankrupt again in 2001.

The big picture: Payless' dance with bankruptcy protection is common for companies in the business of sales. Retailers will often use "bankruptcy to reorganize by shedding debt and closing stores, but often these companies end up with a second bankruptcy soon after," as CNN Business points out.

The exceptions:

  • Zale Corp. avoided a second bankruptcy protection filing when it was bought by Signet Jewelers in 2014.
  • Claire's emerged from bankruptcy late last year and eliminated $1.9 billion of debt.

Go deeper: Axios' Deep Dive on the future of retail

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