MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Fred’s Inc. is closing another round of stores across the Mid-South next month.
On Thursday, the Memphis-based company announced it will begin closing an additional 104 stores as Fred’s continues to reevaluate its store footprint.
This comes just one month after the retailer announced its plans to close 159 stores at the end of May.
This latest round of closures slashes the store’s presence in half, leaving Fred’s with less than 300 stores in the south.
FOX13 reviewed these two recent waves of closings and at least 10 Mid-South stores will close at the end of May and another eight will close at the end of June.
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“It’s happening globally in retail, it’s changing times and sometimes it’s hard to compete,” said Jeff Wallace, an economist at University of Memphis.
Wallace said the internet may be to blame for Fred’s decline.
“When you can have items shipped to your doorstep that may be only three or four dollars and there’s little to no shipping charges, so it makes sense. Why would I go for the store and take that time?” he said.
In a statement, the company’s CEO Joseph Anto said: “These additional store closures are a difficult, but necessary step in the continued restructuring of Fred’s.”
The company sold its pharmacy patient prescription files and pharmacy inventory from nearly 200 stores to Walgreens last fall.
Wallace said this sale may have been a signal that things weren’t going too well.
“If they were looking to free up some cash that was a great way of doing it in a hurry,” said Wallace. “However, that might have hurt their business some because I think it chased away some customers who would have shopped at Fred’s when they went to a pharmacy.”
For now, it’s hard to say how long Fred’s will last moving forward.
“Some of that depends on, is it a high enough rate of return for the shareholders? It may or may not be. If is not, I expect to see them disappear but hopefully they’ll make it,” said Wallace.
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