NEW YORK — Claire's, the ubiquitous shopping mall chain that has pierced the ears of millions of teenagers over several decades, has filed for bankruptcy protection.

The company said Monday its jewelry and accessories stores will remain open as it restructures its debt.

Claire's is just the latest retailers to seek shelter from creditors by filing for bankruptcy, closing stores or going out of business entirely.

Toys R Us announced last week that it would close or sell all its stores after filing for bankruptcy protection last year.

Also, Bi-Lo's parent company announced its will shutter 94 supermarkets, including 19 in South Carolina and four in the Charleston area, as part of its court-supervised financial restructuring. 

Claire's is based in Hoffman Estates, Ill. The retailer said it has pierced more than 100 million ears since it began offering the service 40 years ago. The company was founded in the 1960s and is privately held.

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Claire's said Monday that it is "confident" it will emerge from bankruptcy protection in September, having reduced its debt by nearly $2 billion. It said it can compete with the shift to online shopping, arguing that its "iconic ear piercing services are unmatched and cannot be replicated online." 

Locally, the chain has stores at Azalea Square, Citadel Mall, Mount Pleasant Towne Center, Northwoods Mall and Tanger Outlet.

The Post and Courier contributed to this report.