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The retail industry has had to face serious problems ever since online retail giants like Amazon commenced business in the 90s. The retail sector has faced serious challenges in the past few years. In 2018, retailers represented 5 of the 10 biggest Chapter 11 bankruptcies of the year. The coronavirus bankruptcy challenge is not making things any easier for the retail sector.
Even during 2019, there was no slowing down in retail bankruptcies and the year saw top retailers like Z Gallerie, Gymboree, Forever 21 and Payless Holding LLC go out of business.
The Coronavirus Bankruptcy Threat
The coronavirus epidemic has created survival problems for the retail industry that was already hammered by a torrent of high profile bankruptcy cases. The coronavirus bankruptcy will most likely see many retailers go out of business as citizens are forced to remain at their homes under government orders.
The coronavirus bankruptcy problem will likely become much worse owing to the fact that people will greatly limit their spending during the epidemic owing to several factors. Both self-employed and salaried people fear that they will see massive losses to their income as government lockdowns around the world cripple business. People have started hoarding goods and necessities in anticipation of a protracted coronavirus epidemic and lockdown.
They may also start hoarding cash and spend less than what is usual to make it through these extremely uncertain times. Retailers may see even bigger losses ahead and become the latest casualties of coronavirus bankruptcy. The smaller retailers, in particular, are most vulnerable to coronavirus bankruptcy. There are fears that there may be drastic long-term consequences for the retail industry and many businesses in this sector will have to shut down as a result of coronavirus bankruptcy.
The Start of Coronavirus Bankruptcy Problem
Coronavirus bankruptcy started with supply chain problems when China was the first to be hit by the virus. China is a leading exporter and outsourced vendor for international and local businesses all over the world. Just how badly hit was business in China? In January 2020, when the coronavirus was at its peak in the country, business fell by a staggering 85% compared to the previous year. Businesses all over the world that depended on Chinese vendors for their outsourced supply of components started facing shipment delays. The supply chain problem quickly deteriorated even further as the USA, UK and Europe all eventually fell prey to the rampant epidemic.
Finally, after much deliberation, the WHO announced that covid-19 is a worldwide pandemic.
What started as a major supply chain problem quickly started having a domino effect on businesses of all shapes and sizes since they all rely to some degree on the global supply chain network. Governments then started placing restrictions on gatherings and urged people to observe social distancing. All these measures started taking their toll on retail businesses. The situation has now become truly grave because governments around the world have placed their citizens under lockdowns.
As of now, it is estimated that between 20 to 25 percent of the world’s population currently has to face a lockdown. In many of these countries, all kinds of businesses have been shut down in a desperate attempt to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus. People are now confined to their homes and cannot leave except for the most essential necessities.
The Trump administration is now considering a nationwide curfew as coronavirus cases multiply and spiral out of control. There is a fear that if the epidemic is not controlled soon enough, then the country’s healthcare services will be overwhelmed beyond their capacity. As a result, many coronavirus victims may be left without care, which will most certainly increase the death rate.
In the wake of all these measures and developments, consumer demand is plummeting and an increasing number of businesses are now at a very high risk of coronavirus bankruptcy. Unless the Trump administration can think of a viable plan, it is almost guaranteed that many businesses will become the next victims of coronavirus bankruptcy.
In order to reduce the possibility of a coronavirus bankruptcy, retailers and businesses of all kinds should take the following measures.
You should collect all your loan and lease documents. Make sure that you understand all provisions and the grace periods in particular. Look for special clauses that provide relief in case you are facing business problems. These clauses will assume much greater importance as the situation progresses and will likely determine the outcome of coronavirus bankruptcy cases.
You must reach out proactively to all your landlords, creditors and lenders to inform them about your financial situation. It is better to communicate the situation upfront as this may raise the likelihood of better understanding and increasing the chances of a favorable outcome. You should negotiate if necessary, certain concessions and leniency from your creditors in view of the unprecedented business scenario.
A joint meeting was held on March 22 between the Fed and banking regulators who jointly issued a statement requesting financial firms to cooperate with borrowers who are facing the possibility of a coronavirus bankruptcy. Such statements will work in favor of both lenders and borrowers since both parties have a vested financial interest in averting coronavirus bankruptcy as far as possible.
Stay in Touch
You should remain in touch with your industry association and advocacy groups who are striving for legislative reforms that will ease conditions for your business and mitigate the risk of a coronavirus bankruptcy.
Insurance contracts will be a key aspect for all businesses seeking to avert a coronavirus bankruptcy. You should review your insurance policy and check if it covers losses to your business arising from the coronavirus epidemic. Check for cheaper car insurance.
Many business insurance policies cover losses emanating from business disruptions and upheavals interfering with business continuity. Business interruption coverage and similar contracts have a key role to play in the current crisis and may help to alleviate the risk of a coronavirus bankruptcy.