Sears announces more closures; 2 more in Tampa

- Sears, the iconic American department store seen in malls from coast to coast, announced another round of store closings Thursday. 

Sears Holdings, the parent company of Sears and Kmart, said 72 stores would be closed by mid-September. The list includes two stores in the Bay Area.

The Sears store at Citrus Park Town Center in Tampa and the Kmart store located at 5400 E. Busch Boulevard in Tampa will both shut their doors for good. 

A company press release says the Citrus Park Sears will close in late June. No date was given for the Kmart closing.

The closings are on top of an announcement two weeks ago that 40 other stores would be closing. In a May 23 announcement, Sears Holdings said the Sears store at Country Side Mall in Clearwater and the Kmart at 1602 W. Brandon Boulevard would also close.

Combined with 166 previously announced closings, the company will have shuttered 278 stores nationwide in 2018 – and even more closings are likely. The company says it has identified an approximately 30 other non-profitable stores, “and will make further adjustments as needed and as warranted”.

The company says the closings are part of “ongoing efforts to streamline the Company’s operations and focus on our Best Stores.”  

A press released described those efforts as a “company transformation.”

Sears has been a main-stay of the American retail scene for more than a century. It was founded in 1892 by Richard Sears and Alvah Roebuck and started off as a mail-order catalog company, selling watches and jewelry at first.  

The Sears catalog eventually grew to sell everything from sewing machines to automobiles – and even mail-order homes. 

The first retail locations began opening in 1925.

 In the 1980s, Sears was the largest retailer in the US until WalMart overtook it. 

Sinking mail-order profits brought an end to the Sears Catalog in the 1990s. In 2005, Sears was acquired by Kmart in an $11 billion corporate merger. 

After the merger, the new company, Sears Holdings had more than 3,500 store locations. However, plunging sales, high overhead costs, and a rapidly-changing retail environment led to thousands of store closings nationwide. 

Today, the company operates fewer than 600 stores. The closings announced Thursday will reduce its number of retail locations even further.

Sears Holdings says employees impacted by the store closings will receive severance, and will have the opportunity to apply for open positions at Sears and Kmart locations that remain open.

The company says liquidation sales at the closing stores will begin in the near future.

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