Store closing sign

Discount retailer Fred's is the latest merchant to decide to close all of its remaining stores in the U.S. File/Warren L. Wise/Staff

A Tennessee-based discount retailer that once permeated the Southeast will soon disappear, joining a steady stream of other merchants marching into oblivion.

Fred's filed for bankruptcy Monday and announced it will shutter all of its remaining stores, including the last eight in South Carolina, all in small towns.

They are in Bamberg, Chesnee, Greenwood, Honea Path, Johnsonville, Kingstree, Saluda and Varnville, according to the company's website. 

The Memphis-based company closed its last Charleston-area store in Ladson in May, along with 10 others in South Carolina, when it darkened 159 underperforming shops to try to make ends meet.

Fred's (copy)

Fred's is closing all of its remaining stores in the U.S. after filing for bankruptcy Monday. Its last Charleston-area store went dark in the spring. Provided

It kept just under 400 locations open, but more closures followed in the ensuing months and the company was left with about 80 stores when it decided to darken the rest in its bankruptcy filing.

“Despite our team’s best efforts, we were not able to avoid this outcome,” Fred's CEO Joe Anto said in a statement. "I want to thank all of our employees for their hard work and continued support of the company as we wind down our operations.”

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Going-out-of-business sales are likely to end within 60 days. Prescriptions will continue to be filled.

The company's departure from the retail landscape after 72 years in business will join other recent darkenings of all stores by Payless ShoeSource, Dressbarn, Charming Charlie, Avenue and Charlotte Russe.

Troubled Kmart is closing its last three stores in South Carolina — in Greenville, Lexington and West Columbia — by the end of the year, while former retail kingpin and Kmart sibling Sears is left with two conventional big-box shops in the state, in Greenville and Myrtle Beach.  

Through late August, retailers announced nearly 8,000 store closures, about 25 percent more for the first eight months of 2019 than in all of 2018, according to global marketing research firm Coresight Research. 

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524. Follow him on Twitter @warrenlancewise.