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Macy’s and Sears Holdings to close a combined 226 stores

Stephon Johnson | 1/12/2017, 1:56 p.m.
Three well-known retailers are closing stores around the country—and eliminating jobs.
Macy's Macy's photo

Three well-known retailers are closing stores around the country—and eliminating jobs.

Officials from Macy’s and Sears Holdings, which own Sears and Kmart, announced the closing of a combined 226 stores nationwide, with Macy’s closing 68 and Sears closing 158 stores.

According to Macy’s officials, the move to close 68 stores nationwide comes with the goal of streamlining their store portfolio and intensifying the cost-efficiency efforts and executing “its real estate strategy.” Macy’s officials also announced the layoff of 3,900 employees.

“Over the past year, we have been focused and disciplined about making strategic decisions to position us to gain market share and return to growth over time,” said Terry Lundgrem, chairman and chief executive office of Macy’s, Inc., in a statement. “While we are pleased with the strong performance of our highly developed online business, as well as the progress we have made on selling and visual presentation programs and expense reduction initiatives in 2016, we continue to experience declining traffic in our stores where the majority of our business is still transacted. Given the overall trends challenging us and the broader retail industry, and the time needed to execute new strategies, we expect our 2017 change in comparable sales to be relatively consistent with our November/December sales trend.”

Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, UFCW, which represents 4,000 Macy’s workers in the New York City area, said the workforce is what makes Macy’s, and the closings and layoffs cut into what makes the experience real for customers.

“Workers are the real magic of Macy’s,” said Appelbaum. “They are responsible for the company’s continuing profitability and positive brand. Macy’s employees are the economic engines of the company. They deliver top-notch customer service and create memorable experiences for countless shoppers every day. Macy’s should be investing in its workforce and retail stores to build for the future.”

Lundgrem said that these closing and layoffs are essential to Macy’s survival.

“As we’ve noted, it is essential that we maintain a healthy portfolio of the right stores in the right places,” said Lundgrem. “Our plan to close approximately 100 stores over the next few years is an important part of our strategy to help us right-size our physical footprint as we expand our digital reach. We are closing locations that are unproductive or are no longer robust shopping destinations due to changes in the local retail shopping landscape, as well as monetizing locations with highly valued real estate.”

Sears Holdings started liquidating its inventory last week and will officially close its 108 stores in the spring. One of those stores includes a Sears located at 9605 Queens Blvd. in Rego Park, Queens.

According to Sears’ officials, workers at stores that will be closed will receive severance pay and have the opportunity to apply to open positions at other Kmart stores in the area. The first round of stores were informed Dec. 27, 2016, that 30 Kmart stores and 16 Sear stores would close this spring. On Jan.4, the company informed 78 Kmart stores and 26 Sears stores that spring will bring the end.

“The decision to close stores is a difficult but necessary step as we take actions to strengthen the company’s operations and fund its transformation,” read the company’s statement. “Many of these stores have struggled with their financial performance for years, and we have kept them open to maintain local jobs and in the hopes that they would turn around. But in order to meet our objective of returning to profitability, we have to make tough decisions and will continue to do so, which will give our better performing stores a chance at success.”