In 2021, retail saw a relative decrease in bankruptcy filings as operating performance generally exceeded pre-pandemic levels, according to a new Fitch Ratings report: Retail Bankruptcy Enterprise Values and Creditor Recoveries. The report updates Fitch’s 2020 retail edition with the new addition of aggregate cross-sector data (available in Excel format), as well as two new case studies. “Over the longer term, shifts in consumer spending to services and experiences, apparel brand life cycles, insufficient operational investments and increased penetration by discounter and online competitors drove reduced access to trade and lender credit, causing recent retail sector bankruptcy filings. High fixed costs, including lease and interest payments, pressured cash flows and liquidity,” said Judah Gross, senior director. In 2020, a large volume of filers early on in the pandemic accounted for many of the weaker retail names. Several of the 2020 filers likely could have avoided defaults over the medium term but filed in 2020 for strategic reasons, including equitizing debt claims and rationalizing real estate portfolios through lease rejection.