Pier 1 Imports Inc. (NYSE: PIR) will close as many as 450 stores as it falls apart at the seams. Although the recent collapse of retailers has been identified as the death of niche brands, the perception is not true. With over 9,000 stores closed in the United States last year, the chance that a major retailer will die has escalated sharply. It will be worse this year than in 2019.
The Pier 1 announcement of its troubles is eerily similar to nearly every other. Comparable store sales dropped 11.4%. Revenue was down 13% to $358 million. Pier 1 lost $59 million. The company had $11 million in cash against obligations of over $250 million. There is no single case to be made that Pier 1 will ever become a viable retailer again. The company said, however, that it will “maintain high standards of customers.” The company does not have a single chance to do that.
The industry will not have to wait long for the next retail catastrophe. Most observers believe it will be J.C. Penney. With its stock barely above $1, there is an army of investors and experts who expect that. The remaining stores of Sears are another candidate, although that is a foregone conclusion. The Gap has more stores to close, if its most recent financial statements are an indication. Abercrombie & Fitch said it is remodeling its stores and testing products from other retailers. American Eagle Outfitters stock trades as if it is in terrible trouble.
Over 9,000 stores were closed last year. Pier 1 has put the industry on a course for that figure to be topped. The stocks of troubled retailers have become an investor poker game about who can make money trading stocks that, for the most part, are progressively falling. It is a grim way to benefit from the ends of so many companies.
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