1. Business

Lutz Kmart one of dozens across the nation to close

Published Jan. 14, 2016

A Kmart store in Lutz will close in March, along with dozens of other stores across the country, according to the retailer's parent company, Sears Holdings Corp.

The store at 22920 State Road 54, which has 62 employees, will close for good in mid March. Liquidation sales begin this weekend.

"Store closures are part of a series of actions we're taking to reduce ongoing expenses, adjust our asset base and accelerate the transformation of our business model," said company spokesman Howard Riefs.

The Kmart in Lutz is one of two stores in Florida that will close this year. The other is in Daytona Beach. Riefs declined to comment on how many stores across the country are closing, but reports show that closures are happening nationwide.

Some Kmart stores were sold last year by its parent company to New York-based Seritage Growth Properties. In the agreement, Sears Holdings leases back the stores from the real estate investment firm. Riefs said the local Kmart rented the space, which is owned by the Sembler Co.

Department store chains like Macy's and Sears posted poor holiday sales this year. Sears has struggled for years, and closed hundreds of its namesake department stores and Kmart stores. The retailer has seen revenue plunge year after year and by nearly half in the past decade.

Nearly every other retailer is a competitor in some way with Sears and Kmart stores. Home Depot and Lowe's compete for sales on appliances. Fast-fashion brands have diminished its apparel sales. And online retailers like Amazon continue to cut into the chains' bottom line.

In an effort to improve sales locally, the Sears store at Westfield Countryside mall in Clearwater leased part of its department store space to Whole Foods Market in 2014.

There are 44 Kmart stores in Florida, minus the two that will close. This includes stores in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Hudson, Ellenton, Brandon and Crystal River.

Times senior news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.


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