Payless re-emerged from two bankruptcies on Tuesday with a comeback plan tied to back-to-school in the fall.
In an exclusive on-camera interview with TheStreet's Katherine Ross, Payless CEO Jared Margolis explained why the discount shoe retailer is focusing its comeback on students and giving back: "It's just who we are. It's all about our community, it's all about, 'How do we make a positive impact in today's world?'"
Margolis told TheStreet that Payless is working to help subsidize hot meals for kids who normally would access food in a school setting, as well as provide footwear like sneakers to households in need. It's partnering with schools, students, teachers, and families to provide online connectivity technology. The campaign initiative is called "You Lead the Way."
"It's tough times right now. There's a lot of families out there that don't have wifi in their homes. So we're in the process of partnering and providing hotspots for families in need," said Margolis.
Of course, back-to-school in 2020 is highly unpredictable. According to a survey conducted by Deloitte, parents are planning to spend the same amount on back-to-school as they did in 2019. However, what they’re spending on has changed.
“What we’ve seen is a move from apparel and traditional school supplies to computer hardware and electronic gadgets," said Rod Sides, a vice chairman of retail and distribution at Deloitte.
Planned spending in the computer hardware category was up 38% year-over-year, whereas apparel dropped by about 14%, according to the survey.
Payless plans to open 350-500 stores in the next few years, with the first opening in November in Miami. A few dozen stores will open in the Texas area in 2021.
Payless' comeback plan focuses on both online retail and a streamlined in-store shopping experience.
More than 40 retailers have filed for bankruptcy this year, and according to S&P Global Market Intelligence, 2020 is set to have the highest amount of retail bankruptcies in a decade. Notable bankruptcies include Lord & Taylor and J.C. Penney (JCP) - Get Report.