2020 was the worst year for bankruptcies in a decade, when the aftermath of the financial crisis tanked Blockbuster and Hummer. As of September, upwards of 80 companies had already filed for Chapter 11 as a result of the pandemic and its impact on our erratic, cash-strapped shopping habits and the global supply chain. Sectors like retail, restaurants, entertainment, real estate gas and oil were hit harder than most. Around 35 of those were major chains with over 25 locations. Few of these companies have completely shuttered (though several, like Pier 1 Imports and Stein Mart, have) but many sold to new owners, restructured their businesses and closed hundreds or even thousands of stores.  

The carnage slowed but didn’t stop in the fourth quarter and the beginnings of 2021. Most of the financially rocky and hardest hit companies had already gone under. But over ten new companies have joined the bankruptcy list since Labor Day. 

Here are all the companies that have gone bankrupt since the pandemic began. 


1. Paper Source

People didn’t send many cards in 2020. The greeting cards, stationary and paper goods company filed for Chapter 11 on March 2, after a year of plummeting sales. Greeting card sales were declining before the pandemic hit, around 3% a year. Drug and grocery stores have been shrinking their greeting card sections, as people use text and email to catch up instead. The Zoom boom was the last straw for a retailer like Paper Source, which has around $100 million in debt. The store is selling itself to lenders, closing a dozen of its 160 stores and working to pay off its 2021 orders from suppliers.

2. Belk

Department store Belk exited their bankruptcy just 24 hours after filing on February 24. The chain’s lenders approved its restructuring agreement, allowing it to shed $450 million of the debt that’s become endemic to old school retailers, and including $225 million in new capital. Remarkably, the plan will keep the company’s 291 store footprint across the southeast completely intact.

3. Country Fresh

Eventually, retailers' struggles made their way down to the suppliers. Country Fresh, a Houston-based company that supplies ready-made meals, salads, soups and snacks to grocery and convenience stores, filed for Chapter 11 on February 16. Executives chalked it up to “pandemic-related supply chain and business disruptions.” Most of the company’s debt came from packaging, logistics, shipping and marketing contracts.

4. Knotel

In March of 2020, Knotel, a WeWork competitor that designs and runs bespoke workspaces, had a valuation of $1.6 billion. Falling revenue as a result of the pandemic was made even worse by multiple lawsuits from landlords who accused Knotel of breaking profit-sharing agreements. They furloughed or laid off 50% of their employees over the course of the year, before filing for bankruptcy on February 5 and agreeing to sell its assets to a real estate brokerage firm for a mere 70 million. 

5. Alamo Drafthouse

Movie theaters struggled for obvious reasons over the past year. While AMC miraculously shed debt thanks to its brief tenure as a popular Reddit meme “stonk” and secured new funding, dine-in theatre chain popular with movie nerds Alamo Drafthouse hasn’t been so lucky. Although many states have reopened theaters, the Texas-based chain filed for bankruptcy on March 3, announcing plans to be purchased by Altamont Capital Partners. The theatre continue business as usual under new owners but will close the least profitable of its 40 locations. 

6. Loves Furniture

Loves Furniture was only a year old when it filed for bankruptcy on January 11, having been created in 2019 to take over the stores vacated by Art Van Furniture after their bankruptcy and liquidation. With too much furniture on hand and not enough cash, the Northeast furniture retailer will be restructuring, liquidating some inventory and shuttering all but 12 stores. 

7. L’Occitane

Beauty fared well overall during the pandemic, especially skin and self-care products. But while L’Occitane, the French skincare maker’s e-commerce sales did rise 72% in the last three quarters of 2020, it wasn’t enough to keep sales up overall, which dropped 9% total in the same period. With the company's fleet of high-rent locations, bankruptcy was inevitable.  The brand’s American arm filed for Chapter 11 on January 27, thanks to unpaid rent and “burdensome lease obligations.” The company is restructuring and shuttering 23 of their 166 American stores. 

8. Christopher & Banks

Women’s formal and professional wear was a bad business to be in in 2020. After Ascena’s mall-core trove of women’s fashion sent them into bankruptcy, it wasn’t a huge surprise when Christoper & Banks followed. After defaulting on various payments in January, the Minnesota-based brand filed for bankruptcy on January 14, with plans to wind down its brick and mortar fleet and sell off its e-commerce shop to run as a digital-only brand. This was a winning strategy: the company exited bankruptcy last week after Hilco Merchant Resources bought its online brand. With nearly 450 stores, the bankruptcy put hundreds of retail workers out of a job.

9. Cici's

The delivery food boom had consequences. Buffet restaurants like Cici's, famous for its $5 all-you-can-eat selection of pizza including a mac and cheese pizza and dessert pizza, don’t translate well to takeout dining. The chain filed for bankruptcy on January 26, to sell itself, along with its $82 million in debt to D&G Investors. Cici's had been trying to adapt in recent years, scaling down its store count and turning restaurants over to a franchise model — last year there were only 318 stores, down from a peak of 650. Cici's emerged from fillings last week with new owners who purchased it from D&G, and for now, will continue to operate business as usual.

10. Solstice

Solstice, the second largest sunglasses retailer in the U.S. filed for Chapter 11 on February 18 after 2020 sales dropped 50%, thanks to shuttered stores. The mall favorite accessories chain will reorganize with hopes of making its 66 stores and e-commerce business more profitable.

11. Brazos Electric Power Cooperative

The pandemic has been rough for the energy sector, but it was Texas’ devastating storm that sent Brazos Electric, the largest and oldest power non-profit co-op in Texas which provides wholesale electricity for to 16 other distributors. Texans that kept power during the storms were met with massive bills. So was Brazos. “This action... was necessary to protect its member cooperatives and their more than 1.5 million retail members from unaffordable electric bills as we continue to provide electric service throughout the court-supervised process,” said Clifton Karnei, executive VP. 


  1. Francesca’s
  2. Guitar Center
  3. Furniture Factory Outlet
  4. True Religion
  5. Stein Mart
  6. Tailored Brands (Jos A. Bank, Men’s Wearhouse)
  7. Sur La Table
  8. Century 21
  9. Lord & Taylor
  10. Lucky Brand
  11. Brooks Brothers
  12. Ascena Retail Group (Loft, Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant)
  13. Muji
  14. Pier 1 Imports
  15. Cirque Du Soleil
  16. GNC
  17. Maison Kayser
  18. Le Pain Quotidien
  19. JC Penney
  20. Neiman Marcus
  21. Hertz
  22. Dean & Deluca
  23. J. Crew
  24. ALDO
  25. California Pizza Kitchen
  26. Modell’s Sporting Goods
  27. G-Star Raw
  28. Apex Parks
  29. FoodFirst Global Holdings (Bravo Cucina Italiano and Brio Tuscan Grille)
  30. CMX Cinemas
  31. Gold’s Gym
  32. Rubie’s Costume COmpany
  33. Sage Stores (Bealls, Goody’s Palais Royal, Peebles, Gordmans, Stag Parent)
  34. Tuesday Morning
  35. Hour Fitness
  36. CEC Entertainment (Chuck E. Cheese)
  37. RTW Retailwinds (New York & Company)
  38. Town Sports International (New York Sports Club, Boston Sports Club)
  39. Advantage Rent A Car
  40. Aeromexico
  41. Art Van Furniture
  42. Avianca
  43. Bar Louis
  44. Mood Media
  45. NPC International
  46. BJ Services
  47. Bluestem Brands
  48. Borden Dairy
  49. Briggs & Stratton
  50. Centric Brands (Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein)
  51. Chesapeake Energy
  52. CraftWorks
  53. DavidsTea
  54. Earth Fare
  55. Fairway Market
  56. McDermott International
  57. Figs & Olive
  58. Helios and Matheson
  59. J. Hilburn
  60. Krystal
  61. Cosi
  62. Latam Airlines
  63. Libbey
  64. Lucky’s Market
  65. Maines Paper & Food Store
  66. Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals
  67. McClatchy
  68. Nygard Entities
  69. Old Time Pottery
  70. One Web
  71. The Paper Store
  72.  Peterson-Dean
  73. Pyxus International
  74. Quorum Health
  75. Remington Outdoor Company
  76.  entPath
  77. Skillsoft
  78. Speedcast International
  79. Techniplas
  80. Vision Group Holdings
  81. Worldstrides
  82. Sizzler
  83. Remington Outdoor Company

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.

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