First, it was Toys 'R' Us, and now it may be Payless Shoes ($PAYLESS). Retail brands that suffered a fate worse than death, bankruptcy, have begun a mass resurrection thanks to online shopping, and now Payless is planning on bringing back a few physical stores in North America. The retail apocalypse may still reign over the global economy, but it's no match for zombies clawing from beyond the grave for discount sneakers.

How will the Topeka Kansas-based company manage this comeback? Social data reflects a continuing decline in engagement - something that typically spells tough times ahead for other once-popular retailers. 

It's as scary as a horror film; thousands of people are still listing themselves as being Payless employees, even though all stores worldwide closed down last summer. That number is thinning out, but it's like people still clinging to the past where you could walk into a store and try on a shoe before buying it. Which, other web-based disruptors like Zappos have already proven, maybe a declining trend of its own. 

The real problem with mounting a comeback is letting your fans know you're back. Other than sending out a press release, making the news cycle for a day, and spending money on old school traditional advertising, this comeback is being predicated on the back of online shopping. Well, online people use social media to follow brands and Payless has the rare distinction of losing both Twitter followers AND Facebook followers.

Finally, let's look at all the stores that shuttered when Payless declared itself bankrupt.

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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