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Lord & Taylor goes out of business, ending a nearly 200-year-old legacy

Lord & Taylor to close all its stores
Lord & Taylor to close all its stores 00:22

Lord & Taylor, one of the country's oldest department store chains, is going out of business after filing for bankruptcy earlier this month.

The retailer was sold just a year ago for $100 million to Le Tote, a San Francisco online clothing rental company, by Canadian parent Hudson's Bay Co.

Lord & Taylor will permanently close its remaining 38 stores and shut down its website, the company said Thursday. It is currently holding going-out-of-business sales in stores and online.

Founded as a dry goods store in 1826, Lord & Taylor has struggled for years. But the pandemic has changed the way people shop, accelerated the shift to online shopping, mostly to the benefit of big retailers like Amazon, and Walmart.

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A detailed view of the Lord & Taylor NYC 2016 Holiday Windows on November 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images for Lord & Taylor) Dia Dipasupil & Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Lord & Taylor

Since COVID-19 began to spread in the U.S, several clothing sellers have gone bankrupt, including Brooks Brothers, Neiman Marcus and J.C. Penney. Brooks Brothers will be purchased for $325 million by a retail venture owned by licensing company Authentic Brands Group and mall owner Simon Property Group.

Lord & Taylor was shrinking even before the pandemic. Last year, it closed its 11-story flagship store on New York's Fifth Avenue, which it owned for more than a century. Amazon, the online shopping giant, is turning the building into an office for its tech workers.

U.S. retail sales plummeted 8.7% in March, an unprecedented decline, as the coronavirus outbreak forced an almost complete lockdown of commerce nationwide. The pullback in spending is intensifying the problems facing brick-and-mortar retailers, which were already struggling with online competition.

Department stores on the ropes, while online ... 04:45

Department stores and mall-based chains have cut executive pay, suspended cash dividends and stock buybacks. They're also drawing down credit lines to make sure they have cash on hand.

More than 250,000 stores that sell non-essential merchandise — including Macy's, Nordstrom and Nike – have been shuttered since mid-March. That's 60% of the U.S. retail square footage, according to GlobalRetail Research.

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