Payless ShoeSource confirmed Friday that it will close its 2,100 stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico and start liquidation sales Sunday. The company is also shuttering its e-commerce operations.
The closings mark the biggest by a single chain this year and nearly doubles the number of retail stores set to close in 2019.
“We expect all stores to remain open until at least the end of March and the majority will remain open until May,” the company said in a statement to USA TODAY. “This process does not affect the company’s franchise operations or its Latin American stores, which remain open for business as usual.”
On Wednesday, Coresight Research released an outlook of 2019 store closures that said there was “no light at the end of the tunnel.”
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Prior to the Payless announcement, 2,187 store closings had been announced in the first six weeks of the year, according to the global market research firm’s report. This represented a 23 percent increase over the same time period last year.
Those closings include 749 Gymboree stores, 251 Shopko stores and 94 Charlotte Russe locations.
For 2018, Coresight Research tracked 5,524 closings, which included all Toys R Us stores, hundreds of Mattress Firm stores, Kmart and Sears locations. The record year for closings was 2017 with 8,139 shuttered stores, Coresight reported.
The Topeka, Kansas-based discount shoe retailer had previously filed for bankruptcy protection in 2017 and closed 673 stores.
In a September news release, Payless said it was “the largest specialty footwear retailer in the Western Hemisphere” with more than 3,500 stores in 40 countries worldwide and nearly 18,000 employees.
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Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko