Payless files for bankruptcy, closing dozens of CA shoe stores

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The Payless shoe chain is closing 400 stores nationwide, including 49 in California, as it files for bankruptcy protection. (KABC)

The Payless Shoe Source chain is filing for bankruptcy and closing nearly 400 locations nationwide.

Payless said its Chapter 11 reorganization plan is designed to help it shed debt so it can continue to stay in business "and position the company for long-term success."

A list of the 49 stores closing in California, as well as nearby stores that will remain open, is available here.

For shoppers around Southern California, local closures will make it harder for them to find inexpensive shoes.

"This is the closest Payless for us so it is going to make a difference because we do go there," said Virginia Patino of Riverside.

The closings makes a difference, at least, for those who don't shop online. Internet-based retailing, particularly competition from Amazon, is considered one of the reasons for the decline of Payless as well as other traditional brick-and-mortar retailers.

The shoe chain joins Sears, JCPenney, Macy's, Kmart and a handful of other major retailers to announce large-scale store closures.

Lynette Sohl, with real estate firm Berkshire Hathaway, says for retailers to survive they have to change up the shopping experience.

"The consumer is also driven towards an experience-type shopping experience - meaning they want to be able to do their shopping, people-watch, eat and be entertained," Sohl said.

Kansas-based Payless has about 4,400 locations worldwide. Company CEO Paul Jones said the company hopes to become stronger through the reorganization.

"This is a difficult, but necessary, decision driven by the continued challenges of the retail environment, which will only intensify," Jones said in a company statement. "We will build a stronger Payless for our customers, vendors and suppliers, associates, business partners and other stakeholders through this process."
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