A thousand June layoffs set for Bed Bath & Beyond distribution center

Bed Bath & Beyond, a 52-year-old retail icon, filed plans Tuesday to lay off 1,000 workers in June as it closes its Pendergrass distribution center.

The notice filed with the state of Georgia — required for a closure or large job cut — came days after the one-time retail icon asked a federal court for protection under federal bankruptcy law. Bed Bath & Beyond said that filing was aimed at providing for “an orderly wind-down of its businesses,” although the New Jersey-based company was also trying to sell some or all of its assets.

The distribution center in Jackson County has been open since 2012.

While talk of a recession has been in the air because of the Federal Reserve’s hikes in interest rates, Bed Bath & Beyond’s travails cannot be blamed on a broad economic downturn. Unemployment has been low nationally, while job growth has been strong.

The economy has been even stronger in Georgia, where the jobless rate is 3.1%, near its all-time low. Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate will be released Thursday.

American consumers are spending 16% more on retail than they were before the pandemic, according to Harvard University researchers. Georgia consumers have been spending about 25% more on retail than they were before the pandemic, researchers said.

Sales at the company received a boost early in the pandemic when many households focused on buffing up their homes. But as the pandemic continued, revenues sagged and seemingly never recovered.

In September, Bed Bath & Beyond announced plans to lay off 20% of its workforce and close more than 100 stores in an effort to cut costs as it reshaped its offerings in an attempt to regain financial viability. At the time, the company said it had received more than $500 million in financing meant to keep it afloat.

However, sales continued to sag.

The troubled company has closed some of its stores in Georgia, but still lists 17 locations in the state that are open.

Overall, the company said in a statement this week that it has 360 Bed Bath & Beyond stores and 120 outlets for its buybuy BABY subsidiary. Those stores will remain open, according to a company statement.

News of the company’s bankruptcy filing sent many customers to the stores to cash in coupons before Wednesday, when they expire, according to the New York Times.