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Delia’s, casualty of retail slump, to liquidate

Delia’s is seeking bankruptcy protection and plans to sell all its merchandise and shut down as teen retailers fall out of fashion with shoppers.

The company said Monday that it filed for bankruptcy after it failed to find a buyer for the business. Delia’s said it has $74 million in assets and $32.2 million in debt.

Delia’s Inc., based in New York, has 92 stores in malls around the country. The company has six stores in the Chicago area, including ones at Woodfield, Yorktown and Fox Valley shopping malls.

Retailers, especially those that cater to teens, have been hit hard in the wake of the recession and almost all of them have posted lackluster sales.

Black Friday sales this year tumbled 7 percent this year. Overall, 133.7 million people shopped in stores and online over the four-day weekend around Thanksgiving, down 5.2 percent from last year, according to a survey of 4,631 people conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics for the trade group.

Americans are spending less at the mall and when they do spend, they’re often doing so at fast-fashion stores like H&M and Forever 21.

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and Aeropostale Inc. have been hammered this year and their shares have fallen 22 percent and 73 percent, respectively, over the past 12 months.

American Eagle Outfitters Inc. is down 20 percent in that same time period and Urban Outfitters Inc. is down more than 13 percent.

Last week, Delia’s signed a deal with Hilco Merchant Resources LLC and Gordon Brothers Retail Partners to liquidate its merchandise and dispose of its furnishings and equipment. CEO Tracy Gardner and chief operating officer Brian Lex Austin-Gemas resigned on Friday.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS