America’s ‘Retail Apocalypse’ Is Really Just Beginning: "The root cause is that many of these long-standing chains are overloaded with debt—often from leveraged buyouts led by private equity firms. There are billions in borrowings on the balance sheets of troubled retailers, and sustaining that load is only going to become harder—even for healthy chains. The debt coming due, along with America’s over-stored suburbs and the continued gains of online shopping, has all the makings of a disaster. The spillover will likely flow far and wide across the U.S. economy. There will be displaced low-income workers, shrinking local tax bases and investor losses on stocks, bonds and real estate. If today is considered a retail apocalypse, then what’s coming next could truly be scary."
They are talking about big retail chains with stores in cities all over the country that may close. For example, the map that goes with this story says that 26.8% of retail loans in Pittsburgh are delinquent. A number of big chains have filed for bankruptcy, including Toys R Us, Payless Shoes, Sports Authority, Radio Shack, and Circuit City.