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20210128-hdb-bizcolumn Huntington Mall

Christopher & Banks is closing all of its brick-and-mortar locations, including those at at the Huntington Mall, the Ashland Town Center and the Town Center Mall in Charleston.

BARBOURSVILLE — Christopher & Banks is closing all brick and mortar locations, including its stores at the Huntington Mall in Barboursville, the Ashland Town Center in Kentucky and the Town Center Mall in Charleston, due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Jan. 13, 2021, the womenswear company filed for Chapter 11 reorganization a result of “financial distress resulting from the pandemic and its ongoing impact,” it said.

As of Jan. 13, the company said it operated 449 stores in 44 states, including 315 Missy, Petite, Women stores, 76 outlet stores, 31 Christopher & Banks stores and 28 C.J. Banks stores.

The company authorized store closing sales to be conducted by Hilco Merchant Resources. The store closing process has begun at more than 400 stores nationally, the company said in an email.

The company announced customers will save 40% to 60% off original prices on all merchandise during its closing sale.

“The closing stores feature an abundant assortment of merchandise at very significant price reductions. Customers will save on their favorite apparel for work, play and special occasions,” a spokesman for Hilco Merchant Resources said in an email. “We encourage shoppers to visit their nearby location now and take advantage of these tremendous savings before it’s too late.”

Store fixtures are also being sold as part of the closing sales, the spokesman said. Also, Christopher & Banks online sales will continue, but closing discounts will not apply to online purchases, the spokesman added.

Christopher & Banks has been around since 1956. It is joining the long list of retailers filing for bankruptcy and disappearing from America’s malls.

BELK WILL FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY: The North Carolina-based department store chain Belk says it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to a report by the Associated Press.

The AP said the Charlotte Observer reported that private equity firm Sycamore Partners made the announcement on Tuesday.

The firm owns Belk and says it will continue with “normal operations” as it goes through bankruptcy.

Sycamore Partners says it expects to emerge from bankruptcy by the end of February.

Locally, there is a Belk store at the Ashland Town Center mall in Kentucky. The 133-year-old chain grew from the opening of a store in Monroe, North Carolina, in 1888. The Belk family sold the chain for $3 billion in 2015.

Belk has more than 20,000 employees at its nearly 300 stores in 16 Southeastern states.

Belk said in an email the future Chapter 11 filing will be pre-packaged, meaning Belk already has the support of its lenders and will be able to move forward on an expedited basis. Suppliers will be paid for all goods and services provided. Belk will remain open for business and operate normally and there are no plans for store closings or layoffs as a result of this action.

STREAMING POPULAR: In a survey of almost 650 West Virginia residents taken last month by Orion Strategies, 72% of respondents reported having Netflix or other similar streaming services in their homes.

Of those households making more than $40,000 per year, 77% reported having streaming while 67% of households making less than $40,000 per year also had the service, the survey showed.

“While the public dialogue continues regarding the need for more broadband in rural states, this data shows a large percentage of West Virginians are actively utilizing what they have,” Curtis Wilkerson of Orion Strategies said in a news release announcing the survey results.

Of the 97% of West Virginians who reported having a television in their homes, 56% reported having cable service and 32% reported having satellite service.

A significant gap exists between households who earn more than $40,000 per year versus those under that threshold. Sixty-one percent of television-owning West Virginia households that make more than $40,000 a year have cable, while only 48% of those making under $40,000 per year do. The same spread existed for those with satellite service — 38% of those over $40,000 and 24% for those under.

Education attainment level also consistently showed that the higher the level of education, the more likely the responding household was to have streaming services, according to the survey. Of respondents with less than a high school diploma, 57% reported having the service in their homes. That amount increased to 84% of those with a college degree.

“Not only do we see disparities in households broken down by annual income and education attainment, but we also found variances in the way that people of different political parties receive their entertainment,” Wilkerson said in the release.

When cross-tabulated by party registration breakdown, 62% of Democrats reported having cable television service in their homes as opposed to only 54% of Republicans. Inversely, 39% of Republicans reported having satellite service compared to only 27% of Democrats. Internet streaming services remained consistent across all political party registrations.

“Social media remains popular in the Mountain State,” Wilkerson added. “But there are definite distinctions in its use when broken down by gender.”

Sixty-nine percent of West Virginia respondents utilize social media — with 73% of them actively visiting or posting on Facebook. Twitter was actively used by 16% of West Virginia social media users while Reddit only saw 7%.

However, 79% of women in the state reported using social media actively, as opposed to only 57% of men. Facebook sees 81% of its female users posting or checking the site and only 61% of its male users doing so, the survey showed.

Fred Pace is the business reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Send your business news and photos to fpace@hdmediallc.com. You can also call 304-526-2729. Follow him at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.

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