Payless ShoeSource, a once-popular seller of inexpensive women’s footwear and a staple in many suburban shopping malls, is closing all of its American stores.
The company said on Saturday that it would begin liquidating all 2,100 of its stores in the United States and Puerto Rico. Payless is also winding down its online business.
The retailer, which filed for bankruptcy two years ago, had already closed hundreds of stores in recent years as its brand lost luster among women searching for deals on shoes. It is the latest mass-market retailer to vanish from the retail landscape.
The liquidation of Payless, based in Topeka, Kan., is another example of how bankruptcy has helped retailers shed their debt, but it has not helped many of them restructure their businesses and regain sales.
Toys “R” Us and Bon-Ton, a department store chain, liquidated last summer, after failing to come up viable reorganization plans. Sears narrowly escaped liquidation this month after a judge allowed its chairman and largest lender, the hedge fund manager Edward S. Lampert, to buy the company and keep its stores open.
The Payless liquidation comes as more people are opting to shop online rather than in stores, which were at the core of the shoe company’s strategy. But e-commerce explains only part of Payless’s challenges. While Payless struggled to stay relevant with shoppers, other retailers catering to bargain conscious shoppers, like TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack, are thriving.
Keeping up with emerging fashion trends and creating attractive stores requires constant investment, which was a challenge for Payless. Some of the company’s stores have also been hurt by their location in struggling suburban malls that are anchored by Sears and J. C. Penney, another listing retailer. As hundreds of those anchor stores have closed, traffic to nearby retailers in the malls has slowed.
A Payless spokeswoman said that liquidation sales would start on Sunday and that the stores would remain open through the end of March, with many open until May.