Thrifty drug and discount stores will close its seven remaining Utah outlets in May because of the high cost of maintaining the stores, a company spokesman said.

As part of the local shutdown, Thrifty is discounting all of its merchandise, except prescriptions, and has targeted May 14 as the deadline for phasing out the Utah stores. Thrifty's store in Kearns has already closed its doors.The cost of transporting inventory from Thrifty's Sparks, Nev., distribution center and advertising expenses were significant factors in deciding to close the chain's Utah outlets, said Tom Sanger, spokesman for Thrifty Corp.'s parent company Pacific Enterprises in Los Angeles.

He declined to discuss the financial condition of the Utah stores, but said, "If they were extremely profitable we wouldn't be shutting them down."

Thrifty also refused to disclose how many people they employ in Utah. State employment statistics indicate between 75 and 125 jobs. Sanger said managers and pharmacists in the Utah stores have been offered positions in Thrifty's out-of-state stores.

Thrifty Corp., which has operated the drug and discount stores in Utah since 1972, will maintain a presence in the state through its Gart Brothers sporting goods stores. Thrifty will be missed, however, as one of the only general merchandise stores that is open on Christmas Day.

Sanger said he didn't know what will become of the empty Thrifty stores because the company leased its stores located along the Wasatch Front.

Outside of Utah, Thrifty has 640 stores in Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Southern California.

Sanger said stores are being closed only in Utah.

Pacific Enterprises, whose main business is oil and gas exploration and distribution through its subsidiary Southern California Gas Co., acquired the family-owned Thrifty in 1986.