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J.C. Penney, 1957. Photo: The Denver Post via Getty Images

We've chronicled the fall of Sears — how its deliberate sluggishness killed the Amazon of the 20th century. But Sears is not alone.

What’s next: The next eight retailers at risk of Sears' fate are J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, J. Crew, 99 Cents Only, Hudson's Bay, Pier 1 Imports, Fred's Pharmacy, and Rite Aid, argue Retail Dive's Ben Unglesbee and Cara Salpini.

The big picture: They cite a toxic combination of high debt, weak sales and bloat. The debt of all except Pier 1 and Rite Aid is mostly related to private equity deals.

  • J.C. Penney and Neiman Marcus have $4 billion in debt each, and Penney has cut 1,000 jobs in 2018 alone.
  • Hudson's Bay, the Canadian titan, has $3.8 billion in debt and has been selling off valuable brands, piece by piece — just as Sears did in the years leading up to its demise.
  • J. Crew has $2 billion of debt, sales are tanking and it's operating at a loss.

"These companies are all struggling with how to adapt to a market in which there is no longer a middle," says Louis Hyman, a business historian at Cornell University. "Americans want either cheap or luxury. ... J. Crew is never going to be a luxury brand, and it can't compete with Target."

  • "Private equity has different expectations for these firms than perhaps is possible," Hyman says.

Yes, but: In bankruptcy, any of the eight could re-engineer their financials and stay afloat, says Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail. "Most of the brands are well-known and have some value. As such, I don’t think any of them will disappear entirely even if they enter bankruptcy."

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.

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Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.

Texas AG sues Biden administration over deportation freeze

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks to members of the media in 2016. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration in federal district court over its 100-day freeze on deporting unauthorized immigrants, and he's asking for a temporary restraining order.

Between the lines: The freeze went into effect Friday, temporarily halting most immigration enforcement in the U.S. In the lawsuit, Paxton claims the move "violates the U.S. Constitution, federal immigration and administrative law, and a contractual agreement between Texas" and the Department of Homeland Security.