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

In the wake of a tumultuous 2020, marked by Kobe Bryant’s tragic passing, the COVID-19 pandemic, and civil unrest, traditional retailers faced hardships. Lord & Taylor, the nation’s oldest department store, couldn’t withstand the economic strain and is now shutting down all 38 of its stores.

The French company Le Tote Inc. purchased the historic retailer last year, but financial difficulties forced it into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Initially, they intended to keep 14 stores open.

Established in 1824 in Manhattan as the first U.S. department store, Lord & Taylor has a rich history. After selling its Fifth Avenue location to WeWork (later acquired by Amazon), the company’s fortunes waned. The coronavirus pandemic further exacerbated their troubles.

Lord & Taylor is currently conducting going-out-of-business sales, including selling fixtures and furniture. Several other long-standing retailers, like Brooks Brothers and J.C. Penney, also succumbed to economic challenges, while others, such as Barneys New York, had previously filed for bankruptcy.

The economic landscape has profoundly changed due to the pandemic, leaving historic businesses in jeopardy and raising questions about recovery and new opportunities in the retail sector.