03/06/2020 Molly Moseley

Under Pier Pressure: Jobs data signaled Chapter 11 filing

Last month brought big news for the long-ailing purveyor of potpourri and papasan chairs, Pier 1 Imports. The Fort Worth, TX-based home goods retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February. The filing was the culmination of years of sliding sales, due in no small part to stiff competition from online retailers like Wayfair and Amazon. Expanded home goods offerings from big box retailers like Target and Walmart also played a role. 

Pier 1 had previously announced it would close 450 stores, including all locations in Canada. By late February, 400 of those stores had already shuttered or had begun going out of business sales. The company is also closing two distribution centers, although they have yet to publicly state how many jobs will be affected.

Prior to these closings, we sounded the alarm about potential trouble for the once trendy retailer. In December, our data showed a downward trajectory in job listings that was atypical of a retail company during the holiday season. Per our analysis, this data strongly signaled efforts to reduce expenses, possibly in response to lackluster sales. 

A downward trend in jobs data, as observed with Pier 1, often serves as the canary in the coal mine for bankruptcy filings. Afterall, job listings data provides key insights in a company’s overall health and strategy. Decreasing job counts can be a predictor of distress, just as we saw with the budget apparel retailer Forever 21

As noted in our December analysis, Pier 1’s decline in jobs continues to move in lock step with stock price. The company’s job listings were down 51% from September 25th, 2019 to February 14th, 2020. Over the same period (and immediately prior to announcing their bankruptcy filing), Pier 1’s stock price was down 74%.

The home goods retailer will pursue a sale with a March 23rd deadline for bids. We will continue to keep our eye on both jobs data and stock price as they move through the Chapter 11 proceedings.

Interested in the data behind this post? Contact us to learn more about LinkUp jobs data.

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