Stein Mart has filed for bankruptcy after the coronavirus pandemic...

Stein Mart has filed for bankruptcy after the coronavirus pandemic accelerated the retailer's decline. Seen here, the only Long Island location in Commack, in the Mayfair Shopping Center. Credit: Ed Betz

Stein Mart Inc. filed for bankruptcy and may close all of its stores after the coronavirus pandemic accelerated the off-price retailer's decline.

The company has launched a liquidation process and expects to close "a significant portion, if not all, of its brick-and-mortar stores," according to a statement Wednesday. Stein Mart said it is evaluating all options and may sell its e-commerce operations and related intellectual property.

The only Long Island location is in Commack, in the Mayfair Shopping Center at Jericho Turnpike and Beechwood Lane. The 31,000-square-foot store, in a space previously occupied by MJM Designer Shoes, opened in 2015. 

The department-store chain becomes the latest old-line retailer to succumb to a tumultuous shopping environment, as the pandemic has prompted lengthy economic shutdowns and upended consumer behavior. More than two dozen major retailers have filed Chapter 11 this year, including Men's Wearhouse owner Tailored Brands Inc. and department store chain Lord & Taylor in just the last few weeks.

Stein Mart shares fell as much as 42% in New York on Wednesday. The stock fell 56% this year through Tuesday.

The Chapter 11 filing in Florida gives Jacksonville-based Stein Mart some breathing space while it works out a plan to repay creditors. The company has asked for court approval to continue paying its employees and vendors, according to the statement.

Stein Mart is a discount retailer that runs 281 stores in 30 states. It employed about 9,000 people as of Feb. 1, but closed its stores in March and furloughed "a significant number" of those employees as the pandemic gripped the world, according to company filings. By June 15, all of its stores were reopened.

The company's bankruptcy counsel is Foley & Lardner, its restructuring adviser is Clear Thinking Group LLC and its investment banker is PJ Solomon.

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