Will Payless shoes close more than 1,000 stores?

HARLINGEN — Discount shoe retailer Payless ShoeSource is in negotiations with creditors which could lead to the closing of more than 1,000 stores, according to media reports.

Payless is popular in the Rio Grande Valley, with 17 locations between Brownsville and McAllen, including three in Harlingen and one in San Benito.

Payless is one of the world’s largest family shoe retailers with 3,600 U.S. stores and 4,400 worldwide.

But like many companies which have been on an expansion spree, Payless is having cash-flow problems and is negotiating with creditors to avoid bankruptcy due to a debt load of more than $600 million, Bloomberg Marketwatch reports.

The company also is feeling the pressure from online retailers, as well as from a nationwide decline in mall traffic. Payless has invested extensively in mall locations, including a store in Valle Vista Mall.

Not all the Payless locations are mall-linked, but many are close to malls.

A list of the stores which could be closed has not been released by Payless, which was founded in 1956.

A Payless spokesperson said yesterday the company had no comment at this time.

Last month The Limited, the apparel company with locations mostly located in malls, closed all 250 of its stores and laid off 4,000 employees. Mall staples Sears and Macy’s have also announced mass store closings for 2017, with Sears planning to close 150 Sears and Kmart stores in 2017 and Macy’s planning to close another 100 stores.

There are no reports indicating the Sears store at Valle Vista Mall is on the closings list.