Photo of Thomas S. Onder

Thomas S. Onder is a Shareholder and Chair of the Shopping Center & Retail Development Group, as well as a member of the Real Estate, Litigation, and Bankruptcy & Creditors’ Rights Groups of Stark & Stark.

Mr. Onder is active in the International Council of Shopping Centers (“ICSC”) and concentrates his practice in the area of commercial leasing and litigation, focusing in commercial landlord disputes and secured transactions before state and federal courts in New York and New Jersey, as well as the Federal Claims Court in Washington, DC.

The “Back-to-School” shopping season has begun! The season accounts for a significant portion of sales for retailers in the US, as households buy school supplies, clothes, and student decor. As of June 2021, it looked as though the pandemic was possibly coming to a close, or at least manageable, in the United States. However, the rise of the Delta variant has changed that outlook with mask mandates going into effect to protect the vulnerable and slow the infection rates. Regardless of these ongoing developments, everyone needs to purchase new items and supplies. As such, back-to-school numbers will be a true barometer for the economy as many people return to pre-pandemic routines, including full days in school and returns to the office.

According to U.S. News & World Reports, consumer confidence stayed unchanged from June to July 2021, surprising many economists who were expecting a decline. CNBC notes that this steadiness and consumer conference may have been spurred by the continued monthly payments for the child tax credits which will continue for about 39 million households (nearly 90% of children in the U.S.) through December 2021. Bloomberg cites a Deloitte LLP forecast that spending reach $32.5 billion, up 16% from 2020 and 17% from 2019.

Continue Reading Top Five (5) Signs to Watch for During the Back-to-School Season Cautious Optimism for Retailers

AMC Logo | AMC BankruptcyThe tide has turned from last year! Slowly, the global Pandemic is coming to an end. In its wake, the retail industry has been forever changed with technological innovations and advancements, including online ordering and delivery/pickup, warehousing, automation, and mobile self-check-out. Although most landlords and tenants have worked together during the adversity, there are still a number of problem tenants that may not be able to recover or who may now use the bankruptcy process to get rid of debt and actually restructure.

Continue Reading 10 Retailers to Watch for a Bankruptcy Filing in the Second Half of 2021

Old Country Buffet’s parent corporation, Fresh Acquisitions, LLC, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in the Northern District of Texas, docket # 21-30721. The San Antonio-based company operates six (6) restaurant chains in 27 states – Ryan’s, Old Country Buffet, Tahoe Joe’s Famous Steakhouse, Fire Mountain, Furr’s Fresh Buffet, and HomeTown Buffet. According to Restaurant Business, this is the fifth time that the company’s various chains have filed for bankruptcy protection since 2008.

Continue Reading Old Country Buffet’s Parent, Fresh Acquisitions, Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in Northern District of Texas

The global pandemic has upended retail across the country. In most cases landlords and tenants are working together to get through this adversity. Although vaccines are expected before the end of the year, the distribution will not likely be available to everyone until at least mid-2021. As such, the retail industry is expected to have a tough slog through at least the first part of the year.

Continue Reading 20 Retailers to Watch for a Bankruptcy Filing in the First Half of 2021

Youfit Health Clubs filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this morning in the District of Delaware, docket #20-12853 MFW. The club with more than 80 locations in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas and Virginia, follows in the footsteps of other health clubs that have filed for Chapter11 protection in the last few months, including New York Sports Clubs and 24-Hour Fitness.

Continue Reading Youfit Health Clubs Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in Delaware

Ascena Retail Group, Inc., the parent of the Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant, Lou & Grey and LOFT retail chains, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Thursday, July 23, 2020 in the Eastern District of Virginia, docket # 20-33113. According to MarketWatch, the New Jersey-based company expects to reduce debt to become profitable. Ann Taylor, Loft, Lane Bryant and other chains will continue to operate through the restructuring with about 95% of stores open, while the company reduces its footprint.

Continue Reading Ascena Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in Virginia

The unprecedented global pandemic has created a limbo for most retail tenants, and in some cases, left landlords without payment of rents. Further, some states have placed moratoriums on eviction actions, allowing tenant to stay and not pay. However, as states begin to open back up for business there appears to be light at the end of this tunnel. Still, expect a host of retailers to file for protection in July and August to eliminate stores and try to renegotiate rents.

Although we normally provide a list of 10 retailers to watch, we have increased the list to 20 given the current state of affairs. Following are the top 20 to retailers to watch for possible Chapter 11 filing(s) in the remaining year:

Continue Reading 20 Retailers to Watch for a Bankruptcy Filing in the Second Half of 2020

Earth Fare, Inc., the 45-year old natural and organic grocery chain, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday in Delaware under docket number 20-10256. The Debtor operates more than 53 grocery stores throughout the Southeast, mid-Atlantic and Midwest.

The company is privately held and backed by private equity firms Oak Hill Capital Partners and Green Capital Partners. The Wall Street Journal and the Motley Fool report that the Debtor plans to close all stores.

Continue Reading Earth Fare Files for Liquidating Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

The lawsuits just keep coming… last week, Chapter 11 Debtor, Sears Holdings Corporation (“Sears”) continued to file hundreds of preference complaints to recover money from paid pre-petition creditors. The Debtor filed a mass of suits back in November 2019.

For most creditors, it makes no sense that they receive a complaint to return money for goods or services sold prior to October 15, 2018, when the company filed for bankruptcy protection. However, the Federal Bankruptcy Code allows a debtor to recover “preferences” in bankruptcy – 11 U.S.C. 547.

If you are a trade creditor who received a complaint, before you open the check book to Sears, know what defenses there are to this statutory claim.

Continue Reading Sears Continues to File Hundreds of Preference Suits Against Trade Creditors