2020 in Review: Iconic US Businesses That Filed for Bankruptcy

©2017 J.C. Penney Corporation, In

©2017 J.C. Penney Corporation, In

Brick-and-mortar retailers and several major restaurant chains had already been on the decline before the coronavirus hit, but the pandemic turned out to be the nail in the coffin for several iconic businesses that filed for bankruptcy or closed outright this year. With nonessential businesses closed for weeks or months in some places, already struggling retailers and restaurants found the financial losses too big to overcome.

See: The 2020 Retail Apocalypse

Businesses have been hit hard this year, some more than others. As 2020 comes to a close, take a look back at the iconic American businesses that filed for bankruptcy this year.

Last updated: Dec. 14, 2020


Ann Taylor

Ascena Retail — the parent company of Lane Bryant, Ann Taylor, Loft and Lou & Grey — filed for bankruptcy on July 23. To help reduce about $1 billion of its debt, the company announced that it would be closing 1,600 of its approximately 2,800 stores as part of its Chapter 11 restructuring, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Read More: The Year in Your Money

GoToVan / Wikimedia Commons

Brooks Brothers

Brooks Brothers was founded in 1818 and filed for bankruptcy in July of this year. At the time of the filing, it had more than 200 stores in North America and 500 worldwide; it had already closed roughly 51 stores in recent months due to the pandemic, CNBC reported.

Check Out: Look For These Going Out of Business Sales

Make Your Money Work Better for You
Tooykrub / Shutterstock.com

Century 21 Stores

On Sept. 10, Century 21 Department Stores filed voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced a “wind-down of its retail operations” at its 13 stores across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Take a Look Back: 15 of Your Favorite Companies That Have Gone Out of Business


Chuck E. Cheese’s

Chuck E. Cheese’s parent company, CEC Entertainment, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on June 25 after having to close its venues during the pandemic. Due to the closures, same-store sales were down 29.1% during the first quarter, CNBC reported. CEC Entertainment said it hoped to keep continuing to reopen its locations throughout the bankruptcy process.

Be Aware: These Are the Most Unstable Industries in the US Right Now

Mike Mozart / Flickr.com


FIC Restaurants, the parent company of Friendly’s, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November after the coronavirus pandemic caused sales to plummet, CNBC reported. The company plans to sell “substantially all” of its assets to Amici Partners Group and keep nearly all of Friendly’s 130 restaurants open.

More Problems: The Classic Brands You Love Are In Trouble

Make Your Money Work Better for You
Trong Nguyen / Shutterstock.com


GNC filed for bankruptcy in June, citing the pandemic’s “dramatic negative impact” on its business, CNN reported. As part of its restructuring, the company said it would be closing up to 1,200 stores.

The Other Side: Companies That Performed Exceptionally Well in 2020

James R. Martin / Shutterstock.com

Gold’s Gym

On May 4, Gold’s Gym announced that it had filed for bankruptcy.

“The global COVID-19 pandemic spurred us to take immediate action, including the difficult but necessary decision to permanently close about 30 company-owned gyms, to maintain the strength and growth of the potential of the brand as well as ensure the continued viability of the company for decades to come,” the company said in a press release at the time. “We have been working with our landlords to ensure that the remaining company-owned gyms reopen stronger than ever coming out of this pandemic.”

See: Walmart and Instacart Team Up To Fight Amazon and 17 More of the Biggest Business Moves of 2020

Roka / Shutterstock.com

Guitar Center

Guitar Center, the world’s leading musical instrument retailer, announced on Nov. 21 that it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The filing came after the company had already secured new financing that would continue to allow it to operate as normal.

Yikes: Disney and 12 More Surprising Companies That Had a Disastrous 2020

Make Your Money Work Better for You
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com


With travel down during the pandemic, rental car company Hertz took a huge financial hit and filed for bankruptcy in May. As part of its restructuring efforts, the company sold thousands of its vehicles, with plans to reduce its fleet from 400,000 to 310,000 by the end of 2020, the Fort Myers News-Press reported.

Find Out: The Most Lucrative Collaborations of All Time

Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com

J.C. Penney

J.C. Penney filed for bankruptcy in May; in November, the U.S. bankruptcy court approved its sale to Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and Simon Property Group. As the department store chain goes through its restructuring, it will close nearly a third of its stores over the next two years, leaving just 600 locations open, ABC News reported.

2020 in Review: The Year for Small Businesses Across the US

Alejandro Guzmani / Shutterstock.com

J. Crew

When J. Crew filed for bankruptcy on May 3, it became the first major retailer to do so amid the pandemic, The New York Times reported. It officially exited bankruptcy on Sept. 10, announcing in a press release that the company was now “well-positioned for long-term growth.”

Important: Industries Set To Bounce Back in 2021

Make Your Money Work Better for You
Tahaa / Shutterstock.com

Lord & Taylor

Lord & Taylor declared bankruptcy on Aug. 2, and on Aug. 27, it announced that it would be closing all 38 of its stores, USA Today reported.

Read More: These 16 New Food Companies Are Changing the Way We Eat

Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com

Men’s Wearhouse

Tailored Brands, the parent company of Men’s Wearhouse, Jos. A. Bank, Moores Clothing For Men and K&G Fashion Superstore, filed for bankruptcy in August and said it would continue on with its previously announced plans to close as many as 500 stores, Reuters reported. The company exited bankruptcy in early December.

Success Stories: Companies That Exceeded Expectations Last Quarter

BCFC / Shutterstock.com

Neiman Marcus

On May 7, Neiman Marcus filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing the “inexorable pressure” the pandemic had placed on its business. On Sept. 25, the company announced that it emerged from voluntary Chapter 11 protection with a new board of directors in tow.

Keep Reading: Businesses That Millennials Have Killed (and Why It’s for the Best)

Nolichuckyjake / Shutterstock.com

Pier 1

After nearly 60 years in business, Pier 1 filed for bankruptcy in February. In May, it began closing all 500 of its stores, and in July, the home decor retailer announced it would continue to exist as an online-only store.

See: How Stores and Businesses Are Preparing For a COVID-19 Winter

Make Your Money Work Better for You
Mike Mozart / Flickr.com

Ruby Tuesday

Casual dining chain Ruby Tuesday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Oct. 7. The company had already permanently closed 185 restaurants that had shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, and said it had no plans to close additional locations, USA Today reported.

Changes: Old-School Services That Have Returned During the Pandemic

calimedia / Shutterstock.com


Sizzler USA filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 23.

“Our current financial state is a direct consequence of the pandemic’s economic impact, due to long-term indoor dining closures and landlords’ refusal to provide necessary rent abatements,” Sizzler president Chris Perkins said, according to NPR.

The 62-year-old steakhouse chain hoped to keep its restaurants open throughout the bankruptcy process.

Growing Businesses: Industries That Made Their Mark in 2020

designs by Jack / Shutterstock.com

Stein Mart

After 112 years in business, Stein Mart filed for bankruptcy on Aug. 12 and announced that it would be closing most — if not all — of its 280 stores, the Associated Press reported.

More From GOBankingRates