Bon-Ton Stores files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

Younkers store at the Fox River Mall in Grand Chute, January 31, 2018. (WLUK)

NEW YORK (AP/WLUK) -- Bon-Ton Stores, struggling with weak sales and saddled with debt, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Last week, the company announced the closure of four Younkers stores in Northeast Wisconsin among 42 total locations set to close.

The department store chain filed Sunday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Delaware. Several dozen retailers including Toys R Us, Payless ShoeSource and Gymboree Corp., have filed for reorganization over the past year as shoppers abandon traditional stores.

Bon-Ton has been hurt by shoppers' changing behavior, and its $1 billion in debt gives it less flexibility to invest in stores and online.

The company, which operates 260 stores from headquarters in Milwaukee and York, Pennsylvania, saw holiday sales at established stores fall 2.9 percent. Overall the retail industry had a good season, helped by a solid economy.

The company says its stories, e-commerce and mobile platforms will operate as usual during the restructuring.

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