Teen Retailer rue21 to Close 400 Stores, Focus on Online Sales

by Katie Sloan

Warrendale, Pa. ­— Teen clothing retailer rue21 is set to close about one-third of its stores nationwide as it shifts its focus to e-commerce.

The privately held company will shutter 400 stores, according to reports by The Associated Press, leaving more than 700 rue21 locations in 48 states. The retailer confirmed upcoming closures in a Facebook post, stating that “it was a difficult but necessary decision.”

A spokeswoman for rue21 recently alluded to the retailer’s unfavorable financial state, according to reports by Women’s Wear Daily. The decision to shrink the company’s store footprint comes about two weeks after entering into forbearance agreements with lenders in order to stave off a default.

In 2002, the company filed for bankruptcy under its former name — Pennsylvania Fashions Inc. It emerged under the name rue21 the following year. The company, based in the Pittsburgh suburb of Warrendale, didn’t say how soon the stores would close. Rue21 took to Facebook, once again, to explain to customers that they could search for stores near them on the company’s “Store Locator” page. Those set to close will show a “Closing Store” label above the address. Rue21 is the latest retailer to struggle amid the expansion of e-commerce.

Teen retailers Aeropostale and Wet Seal have hit road bumps this year, with Aeropostale closing nearly 600 locations and Wet Seal filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Other household names to file for bankruptcy this year include Payless ShoeSource, Gander Mountain, Limited Stores, hhgregg and RadioShack.

— Katie Sloan

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