As US retail and apparel companies emerge from their worst year since the Great Recession, many will be happy to put 2017 behind as 2018 will be brighter overall, even for department stores, says a new report by Moody’s Investors Service. However, more defaults and rating downgrades are expected in the next few months as the number of distressed firms rises. We expect defaults among speculative-grade retailers to drop sharply to 5 per cent in October from 9 per cent today, but only after peaking at 11 per cent in March,” a Moody’s quoted Vice President Christina Boni as saying.