Wal-Mart, JCPenney, Sears all announce closings around US


PITTSFIELD — Wal-Mart, JCPenney and Sears Holding Corp. have all announced that they are planning to close stores around the country — but none of those closures are slated for the Berkshires.

Wal-Mart on Friday announced that it is planning to close 269 stores around the world, including 154 in the United States, mostly by the end of January. JCPenney is planning to close seven stores around the country by the middle of April.

Sears Holding Corp., the parent company of Sears and KMart, announced on Thursday that it plans to close 27 Sears and KMart stores by this spring, according to the website Newsmax.com.

Sears has not announced what stores it plans to close, but company spokesman Howard Riefs told The Eagle via email on Friday that the Sears stores at the Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough and in Great Barrington, and the KMart in Great Barrington all will remain open.

In the Berkshires, Walmart operates a store in Pittsfield and a supercenter in North Adams. JCPenney's local outlet is also located in the Berkshire Mall.

The news comes in the wake of two other national chains announcing they would close stores — Macy's and Best Buy — in the Berkshire Mall.

At Wal-Mart, the closures include the chain's entire fleet of 102 Walmart Express format stores — the company's smallest outlets — and 12 supercenters, according to a company statement.

JCPenney is closing single stores in California, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming, according to the Dallas Morning News. The chain closed 40 stores last year and 33 in 2014.

Wal-Mart is also shuttering 115 stores in Latin American markets — including 60 underperforming stores in Brazil that have already closed — and four Sam's Club locations that include outlets in Fall River and Seekonk.

None of the regular or supercenter stores that Wal-Mart is closing are located in Massachusetts, according to information on the company's website. The closest Walmart to the Berkshires that is closing is located in Baltimore.

According to Wal-Mart, the total number of closures will affect 16,000 employees, about 10,000 of them in the United States.

The store closures are part of a "strategic move" so the Wal-Mart company can focus more on its supercenters and e-commerce business, according to a company statement.

The closures were based on financial performance as well as how the locations fit into Wal-Mart's broader strategy, according to company spokesman Greg Hitt. More than 95 percent of the closed stores in the United States are located within 10 miles on average of another Walmart. The store closures represent less than 1 percent of global revenue from the chain's 11,600 worldwide stores.

Wal-Mart has been working aggressively to grow its e-commerce presence and digital services, while upgrading stores and providing a more pleasant experience, according to USA Today. As part of that initiative, Wal-Mart has increased wages and provided more training to employees, services that have cost the chain more than $1 billion, USA Today reported.

The chain is also planning to open an additional 300 stores, including 50 to 60 supercenters, during fiscal 2017, which begins on Feb. 1.

"We are committed to growing, but are being disciplined about it," said Doug McMillon, the president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the statement.

Contact Tony Dobrowolski at 413-496-6224.


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