You might want to get ready to write the requiem for another round of retailers!
The latest update to Fitch Ratings' Retail Bonds of Concern list — a kind of corporate debt countdown-to-annihilation clock — says time is slipping away for six retailers in particular.
The death knell is sounding...
In the final quarter of 2016, we told you credit rating agency Fitch first sounded the alarms about Sears Holdings, Claire's Stores, Nine West Holdings, rue21 and 99 Cents Only Stores.
The fear at that time was that these five retailers wouldn't be able to honor the interest payments on their corporate debt and would have to go bankrupt.
Well, here we are in the second month of 2017 and Fitch has revised its guidance on these companies (plus one other) in a late January note.
Some of the stores are faring better, though not by much.
Despite all its cost-cutting measures, Sears still isn't looking good. The once-dominant retailer announced the closure of 150 stores to come in early 2017, yet that move has only managed to lower the company debt load by a fraction of one percent since last check!
Sears has to make the next interest payment on its debt April 15, according to RetailDive.com.
The "success story" of the bunch, if you could call it that, is Claire's Stores. The mall-based retailer — best known for its offer of free ear piercing for tween girls — has managed to reduce its debt by almost 18% since we last heard from them.
That's good, but it might not be good enough to guarantee the chain's survival! Claire's has an interest payment on its debt due March 15.
(Gymboree is a new entrant on our watch list, so we don't yet have the data to say if things are getting better, worse or staying the same for them.)
This much is certain...2017 will continue to be a challenging year for retail. We'll keep you updated with the latest news of store closures and business bankruptcies right here on Clark.com!