After more than three centuries in business, the Onuma department store in northern Japanese city of Yamagata began bankruptcy proceedings this year - one of many distinguished department stores across the country in dire straits.
Japan’s department stores have been in a long slow decline as shopping habits change.
Now the coronavirus pandemic, just as it has forced U.S. retailers such as Lord & Taylor and Neiman Marcus into bankruptcy, is hammering nails into coffins for some - particularly those in regional areas.
Last month, 146-year-old Nakago closed the doors of its last remaining store in Fukushima city, while Izutsuya Co Ltd, a chain in the southern city of Kita Kyushu, shuttered one of its two main stores. （Reuters）
death knell：名詞，喪鐘，預示終結。例句：U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned China’s proposed national security law for Hong Kong, warning that the passage of the legislation would be a "death knell" for Hong Kong’s autonomy.（美國國務卿龐皮歐譴責中國研議的港版國家安全法，警告通過該法會是香港自治的「喪鐘」。）
in dire straits：慣用語，形容情況嚴峻，困境。
a nail in the coffin：慣用語，（釘入）棺材釘，形容某事的終結或失敗；催命符；導致失敗的事件。例句：Getting arrested for drunk driving was the nail in the coffin of his college scholarship.（酒駕被抓成為他的大學獎學金的催命符。）