By TAMARA LUSH Associated Press
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — National discount department store chain Stein Mart filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday after 112 years in business, and announced that it will close most, if not all, of its 280 stores.
“The combined effects of a challenging retail environment coupled with the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have caused significant financial distress on our business,” wrote Chief Executive Officer Hunt Hawkins in a news release. “The Company lacks sufficient liquidity to continue operating in the ordinary course of business.”
Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, Stein Mart has more than 280 stores in 30 states specializing in clothing, shoes and housewares at discount prices. Many of the stores are located in community shopping centers. As of May 30, the company employed about 8,400 people.
Hunt said Stein Mart will continue to operate normally “in the near term,” and is evaluating the potential sale of its eCommerce business. A going-out-of-business sale will begin Friday or Saturday, according to spokeswoman Linda Tasseff, who said she anticipates all stores will close by the fourth quarter of 2020, with closing dates varying by store.
“Please know that this was an extremely difficult decision, and is deeply disappointing for all of us at Stein Mart,” Hunt said in a written statement. “We have loved serving our communities over the years and are so grateful to our loyal customers who chose to shop our stores.”
Stein Mart closed its businesses in mid-March because of the pandemic. It began reopening in April, and eventually reopened all of its stores with reduced hours. It borrowed $10 million in June under the federal Paycheck Protection Program. The company first started doing business in 1908, in Mississippi.
More then 40 retailers have filed for Chapter 11 this year, including more than two dozen retailers who filed since the pandemic began. Last year, 23 retailers filed for Chapter 11.
Among them: America’s oldest retailer, Lord & Taylor; J. Crew; J.C. Penney; Neiman Marcus; Men’s Wearhouse; Jos. A. Bank; Stage Stores; and Ascena Retail Group, which owns Lane Bryant and Ann Taylor.