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Payless ShoeSource begins liquidation sales, halts online sales

Stores will begin closing in March
Posted at 11:05 AM, Feb 18, 2019

Payless is the latest retail chain to close up shop in the United States.

The discount shoe store will close all 2,100 of its locations in the United States and Puerto Rico in the coming months, a spokesperson told CNN Business on Friday. Stores will begin closing in March, though most will say open until May.

This past weekend, the retailer launched liquidation sales. It already has closed online sales and is directing patrons to the brick-and-mortar stores.

The company could file for bankruptcy for a second time by the end of the month, according to reports.

Founded in 1956 in Topeka, Kansas, Payless has more than 3,600 locations in 40 countries and over 18,000 employees, according to its website. A spokeperson said its international franchises and Latin American stores will not be affected.

The company first filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April 2017 and closed roughly 400 stores at that time. It reorganized and cut millions of dollars in debt, but that doesn't appear to have been enough to save the company.

It's common for retailers to try to use bankruptcy to reorganize by shedding debt and closing stores. Often these companies end up with a second bankruptcy soon after. That's what happened with Gymboree and RadioShack .

Payless is the latest brick-and-mortar retailer to suffer in the age of Amazon, joining Toys "R" Us , Brookstone and clothing store Charlotte Russe. Online shopping has led to a drop in foot-traffic at US malls, which were a vital source of customers for stores like Payless.

"The pace of disruption in retail is widely acknowledged," Greg Portell, a partner at consulting firm A.T. Kearney, told CNN Business. "Yet, the pace of change inside retailers continues to lag. Many retailers find themselves trapped in a cycle of continuing to chase consumer trends ... Without bold action, the retail landscape will continue to be scattered with bankruptcies."