The once-hip fashion retailer Forever 21 could close two of its South Carolina stores after filing for bankruptcy earlier this week.

The Palmetto State shops on the possible closure list of up to 178 U.S. locations include one at Tanger Outlets in North Charleston and another at Magnolia Mall in Florence.

It’s possible that not all of the U.S. locations identified by the retailer will end up going dark as the chain looks to renegotiate leases and rents with landlords, the company said in a statement on its website.

“We ... expect a significant number of these stores will remain open and operate as usual, and we do not expect to exit any major markets in the U.S.,” the company said.

Forever 21 said it would continue to honor gift cards, returns and exchanges while it works its way through bankruptcy reorganization. 

Forever 21 (copy)

Forever 21 operates two stores in the Charleston area. One on King Street, above, opened in 2011 and another later opened at Tanger Outlets in North Charleston. The outlet store is on a list of possible store closures after the company filed for bankruptcy earlier this week. The downtown store is not on the list. File/Staff

"We are confident this is the right path for the long-term health of our business," the company said. "Once we complete a reorganization, Forever 21 will be a stronger, more viable company that is better positioned to prosper for years to come."

The retailer also operates a store in the former Saks Fifth Avenue space at King and Market streets in downtown Charleston, where it opened in 2011. That store is not on the list of potential closures.

The chain's other South Carolina locations include shops in Columbia, Greenville and Myrtle Beach.

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The retailer joins a parade of other merchants with brick-and-mortar locations struggling against the tide of online shopping.

About 8,000 shops have closed this year, and some retail experts believe that number could climb to 12,000 by year's end.

Merchants who have announced their departures from the retail landscape recently include Payless ShoeSource, Dressbarn, Charming Charlie, Avenue, Charlotte Russe and Fred's.

Kmart will darken its last two South Carolina locations, in the Midlands and Upstate, by the end of the year.

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