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Two Tampa locations among dozens of stores being closed by Sears

Sears is closing another 72 stores after reporting a first-quarter losses and plunging sales. The struggling retailer said Thursday, May 31, 2018 that it has identified about 100 stores that are no longer turning profits, and 72 of those locations will be shuttered soon. [Associated Press]
Sears is closing another 72 stores after reporting a first-quarter losses and plunging sales. The struggling retailer said Thursday, May 31, 2018 that it has identified about 100 stores that are no longer turning profits, and 72 of those locations will be shuttered soon. [Associated Press]
Published Jun. 6, 2018

After more than six years of shrinking sales, the parent company of Sears and Kmart announced Thursday it would shutter another 63 stores.

Two more regional stores under Sears Holdings, both of them in Tampa, are in the latest round. Kmart on Busch Boulevard and Sears at Citrus Town Center will close in September. That Sears' auto center will close by late June.

Since the start of the year, a total of two Sears and three Kmart stores in Tampa Bay have, or will, close as the company struggles against 26-straight quarters of declining sales.

The breakdown of targeted stores came after Sears announced a nearly half-billion dollar loss in the quarter, sending its already depleted stock tumbling. Shares closed down another 40 cents apiece, or nearly 13 percent, on Thursday.

Five years ago, there were 2,000 Kmart and Sears stores across the country. After the just-announced closings, that number will shrink to roughly 820.

Sears' leadership said in a statement the stores closing were not profitable.

"In a challenging quarter, we continued to focus on our strategic transformation, identifying additional opportunities to streamline operations and adjust inventory and operating expenses while staying focused on our best members, best categories and best stores," CEO Edward S. Lampert told shareholders on Thursday.

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In total, the company says it found 100 of its stores to be unprofitable. Leadership said earlier on Thursday 72 stores would close, but decided to continue to evaluate nine of those on the list.

The latest numbers mean another 15 Kmart stores and 48 Sears will shut down — that's after Sears Holdings closed about 100 at the start of 2018 and roughly 250 the year before.

St. Petersburg's Kmart on 66th Street N. will be the last one remaining in Tampa Bay. The next closest is in Bradenton. Space that was once a Sears at Tyrone Square Mall has already been made into a Dick's Sporting Goods and soon-to-open Lucky's Super Market.

Sears Holdings announced in April and May the Sears at the Clearwater Westfield Countryside Mall and the Kmart stores on U.S. 19 and in Brandon would shut down.

There are remaining Sears locations at the WestShore Plaza and University Square Mall in Tampa — but none in Pinellas County.

Sears stores at the Westfield mall in Brandon, the Gulf View Square in New Port Richey and the Coastal Way in Brooksville also will remain open, according to the latest statements from the company.

In its first quarter ending on May 5, Sears Holdings reported losing $424 million. That was after it had sold off the Sears Craftsman brand and as it looks for a buyer for its Kenmore appliance brand.

Revenue fell more than 30 percent to $2.89 billion, with store closings contributing to almost two thirds of the decline. Sales at stores that had been open for at least a year dropped 11.9 percent.

Sears was founded in 1892 as mail order catalog company — a revolution for retail at the time. It began opening retail storefronts in the 1920s.

The company that survived two world wars is now struggling to compete with big-box stores like Target and Walmart and online retailers such as Amazon. Its leadership says its working to position itself as a competitor again.

"Our transformation strategy is designed to make Sears Holdings a new kind of retailer – one that is innovative, truly integrated and optimally positioned to meet the needs and preferences of today's shoppers," Rob Riecker, the company's chief financial officer, said to shareholders Thursday.

Lampert, who put Sears and Kmart under one company after helping pull Kmart out of bankruptcy, has long said he'd save the famed department store.

The company says liquidation sales for this round will begin as early as June 14.

This story has been updated to clarify the closing months of Sears and its auto center.

Times wires were used in this report. Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.

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