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Expand chart
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

Go deeper

4 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.