Women's fashion retailer the Limited is shutting down its five metro area stores next week, according to sales associates at Twin Cities stores.

Signs that read "75 Percent Off," "Nothing Held Back, Everything Must Go, Entire Store" hang in the windows at the Southdale Center location where an associate confirmed that the last day of business will be Jan. 7.

Bloomberg News, citing people with knowledge of the matter, reported last week that the New Albany, Ohio-based retailer is planning to file bankruptcy within weeks and likely will liquidate the business.

Alyssa Kaiser, an assistant manager at the Rosedale Center store, had only been on the job for the past two weeks when she got confirmation that her store was closing. Stores at the Twin Cities Premium Outlets in Eagan, Ridgedale Center in Minnetonka and the Mall of America also are shutting down, she said.

"Customers are really upset about it," Kaiser said. "They are mad and sad and shocked. They don't know where they will buy their work pants."

A spokesman for a New York public relations firm handing media inquiries about the apparel chain declined to comment.

The Limited was founded in 1963 in Columbus, Ohio. It grew into an "iconic fashion retailer that offers high-quality, private-label apparel designed to help sophisticated professionals live an unlimited life," according to its website.

Though business was brisk at Rosedale on Friday as customers snapped up deeply discounted merchandise, overall sales have slumped. The chain had been up for sale, but there were no buyers, Kaiser said. That prompted the closings.

The Limited had around 250 stores going into the holidays, according to news media reports.

The chain has been owned by Sun Capital Partners since 2007, when the private-equity firm bought the chain from L Brands, the parent of Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works.

Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768