11. Steak ‘n Shake
> Industry: Restaurant
Just before the coronavirus shut down much of the U.S. economy, Steak ‘n Shake was already closing restaurants. Facing declining sales, the burger chain temporarily closed over 100 locations in February to convert them into counter-service only restaurants to save on labor costs associated with having a waitstaff. The company reported an operating loss of $18.6 million in 2019.
Steak ‘n Shake is seen as a bankruptcy risk because of its restaurant closures and the resulting lost cash flow, as well as the struggles associated with operating during the COVID-19 crisis and the coming maturity of a $181.5 million loan in 2021.
> Industry: Clothing
Like many other retailers, department store chain Nordstrom has been in trouble since governments nationwide ordered the closure of nonessential businesses. The company shut down all of its physical stores and furloughed the majority of its workforce.
On April 8, Nordstrom issued a note to investors about the impacts the COVID-19 pandemic had on its operations. In the note, the company said, “The longer our stores remain closed to the public, the greater impact it will have on our results of operations and financial condition, and if our physical locations remain closed to customers for an extended period of time our financial situation could become distressed.” On May 6, the company announced it would be closing 16 locations permanently in nine states and Puerto Rico.
13. GNC Holdings
> Industry: Health and fitness products
Even though food products have been in high demand during the pandemic, nutrition-related products seller GNC has not been able to capitalize — in part because it relies heavily on in-person sales instead of online sales. GNC furloughed “a significant portion” of its 12,400 employees, and the company’s credit rating was also recently downgraded by rating agency Fitch.
GNC’s stock, which was over $2 per share in mid-February, has fallen to below 60 cents as of early May, with the NYSE threatening to delist GNC as the stock has traded at under $1 per share for more than a month. GNC could also face a class action lawsuit after a law firm announced it was investigating the company’s board for “fraud and breach of fiduciary duty,” claiming board members would reap the benefits of any bankruptcy that results at the expense of shareholders.
14. Ruby Tuesday
> Industry: Restaurant
Casual dining restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday had been struggling financially long before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the nation’s restaurants to temporarily close. The company’s nationwide presence has been declining for years — from 945 U.S. locations in 2007 to less than 500 today. As the nationwide lockdown continues, already a number of closed Ruby Tuesday locations have announced that they will not be reopening.
15. Gold’s Gym
> Industry: Fitness
Bans on crowds of more than 10 people across the nation spelled disaster for large gym chains like Gold’s Gym. The gym company filed for bankruptcy in early May. CEO Adam Zeitsiff pledged that Gold’s Gym would reopen but it already had to permanently close 30 company-owned locations amid the pandemic.
Some Gold’s Gym locations have begun reopening, with enhanced safety measures in place. Still, it remains to be seen how willing consumers will be to share a confined space after turning to at-home alternatives like Peloton, which has skyrocketed in popularity since social distancing measures have been implemented.
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