A spate of retail failures in 2020 cleared away a lot of the dead wood in U.S. retail. In 2021, retailers that survived the first wave of the pandemic were able to raise funds at low interest rates while shoppers spent freely, keeping most major merchants alive for now.

Bankruptcies went down in 2021 in the retail industry and throughout the U.S. economy. Low interest rates meant struggling companies could borrow at little cost and strong consumer spending, helped by government stimulus checks and an expanded child tax credit, boosted retail sales.

Overall, bankruptcies of companies with debts of $50 million or more fell to 121 in 2021 from 245 in 2020, according to financial news service Bloomberg. In retail, only six companies with sufficient online revenue to be tracked by Digital Commerce 360 filed for bankruptcy compared to 25 in 2020.