Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg/Getty Images/File
A Rue21 location in South Carolina in a 2020 photo.
New York CNN  — 

Rue21, a mall staple for teen apparel, is going out of business and closing all 540 of its stores within the coming weeks.

The Pittsburgh-based company filed for bankruptcy Thursday for the third time in its existence, signaling the end of nearly 50 years in business for the retailer, which had 1,200 locations at its peak just a few years ago.

The retailer, which has about $200 million in debt and 4,900 employees, has been struggling financially in recent years despite a 2017 bankruptcy that the company hoped would turn Rue21 around. It also filed for bankruptcy in 2003.

In a court filing, interim CEO Michele Pascoe said that Rue21 was “negatively impacted by challenges stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic and related adverse market trends, including a shift in consumer shopping patterns from traditional brick-and-mortar retailers to online retailers and changing consumer preferences.”

Pascoe said that Rue21’s bankruptcy was caused by “under-performing retail locations, increased industry competition and the uptick in online shopping, inflation and macroeconomic headwinds, and challenges raising capital.”

A major problem that led to Rue21’s downfall was its “growing irrelevance of the brand to teen consumers,” according to Neil Saunders, managing director and retail analyst at GlobalData Retail.

“Rue21 does not have a very compelling proposition and is losing customers to other retailers and to cheaper and more interesting fashion platforms like Shein,” he told CNN. “There is still a big question mark over whether the retail market needs Rue21 to exist.”

Rue21 didn’t immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment, and its website no longer works.

Its stores, which are located in 45 US states, will close within the next 4 to 6 weeks and “going out of business” sales are beginning soon. The company will also sell its brand name and other intellectual property.

Rue21 is the latest retailer to hit financial turbulence. Express filed for bankruptcy last month and announced it was closing about 100 stores. 99 Cents Only Stores, a discount chain, also said in April it was going out of business.

Joann, the fabrics retailer, went bankrupt in March and exited from the process this week, proclaiming that it’s in its “strongest financial foundation in many years.”