More retailers are in danger of bankruptcy now than during the Great Recession

The retail apocalypse is threatening "devastating" outcomes for retailers.

Twenty-two retailers in Moody's portfolio are in serious financial trouble that could lead to bankruptcy, according to a Moody's note published on Wednesday. That's 16% of the 148 companies in the financial firm's retail group — eclipsing the level of seriously distressed retail companies that Moody's reported during the Great Recession.

In the research note, analyst Charlie O'Shea said that competitive challenges that have weighed heavily on mega-retailers like Walmart and Target, "will have potentially devastating ripple effects for smaller, more challenged retailers over the next several quarters."

Retailers including rue21 and Payless have filed for bankruptcy in recent months, while others such as Sears, JCPenney, and Macy's have closed hundreds of stores across the US. According to Credit Suisse, more than 8,600 retail locations are expected to close for good before the end of the year.

Things aren't getting better any time soon. While most retailers are "fundamentally healthy," Moody's predicts that the ranks of "distressed" retailers at risk of filing for bankruptcy will only grow in the next 12 to 18 months.

Retailers in trouble this year:

Retailers closing stores in 2017
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Retailers closing stores in 2017

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