With stores closed and all sales except e-commerce brought to a halt, retailers hastened to secure the money they needed to weather the crisis. They did this by borrowing, issuing new bonds, halting rent payments, and delaying payments to vendors. But all that money will probably have to be repaid one day. The world of retail isn't kind to companies with huge debt loads, and the mass layoffs and general uncertainty mean that demand is suffering. Retailers can't count on much these days, casting considerable doubt on whether they will be able to meet their new obligations.
"It wasn't just retail," Reshmi Basu, restructuring editor with Debtwire, said in an interview. "Pretty much every company, whether it be a tech company, education, energy — if they had the ability to draw on their revolver, they did. It was across the board."