America’s Oldest Department Store Is Closing All Its Stores After 200 Years

The tumultuous year of 2020, marked by the tragic death of NBA star Kobe Bryant, was further marred by the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest following George Floyd’s murder. As the economy faced challenges due to the pandemic, longstanding retailers struggled against the rising dominance of online platforms like Amazon. America’s oldest department store chain, Lord & Taylor, founded in 1824, is now set to close all 38 of its stores after nearly two centuries in business.

Lord & Taylor, known for its pioneering role as the first department store in the United States, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August 2020, initially planning to keep fourteen locations open. However, the economic pressures led to a change in strategy, and the decision was made to close all stores in a desperate liquidation sale. Last year, the French clothing company Le Tote Inc. acquired Lord & Taylor.

The closure of Lord & Taylor adds to the list of venerable American businesses facing economic fallout, including Brooks Brothers, J. Crew, J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, Stage Stores, Ann Taylor, and Lane Bryant. Brooks Brothers, another two-century-old company that had dressed numerous U.S. presidents, and Barneys New York, its longtime rival, also succumbed to bankruptcy.

The ongoing economic challenges, exacerbated by the pandemic, have led to the closure of historical businesses. The fate of these vacated spaces and the recovery of the economy remain uncertain, as traditional retailers grapple with the evolving landscape and online competition.

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