While the Newton Hometown Sears is not targeted — and can not be — the retailer which operates Kmart and Sears stores, said it has identified about 100 stores that are no longer turning a profit. The majority of those locations will be shuttered soon.
“We are not a corporate store,” said Denise Martin with the Newton Hometown Sears store. “We separated about six years ago from the corporation. We are our own entity. They cannot come in and close us down, the only person who can is the person who owns it. We are independently owned.”
Sears released a list of 63 stores that it said will close in September. It said earlier there would be 72 closed, but said some were being re-evaluated.
Sears Holdings Corp. plans to close its store in Topeka as part of a nationwide reorganization. The store is expected to close in September.
According to the Associated Press, the Wichita store is the only remaining “traditional Sears” store in Kansas.
“The thing that you are going to see is a push toward the hometown situation,” Martin said. “They are nationwide. You see a push to separate from the corporation and be independent.”
The Chicago-based company announced that it plans to close 57 Sears department and specialty stores, and 15 Kmarts. Those closings will leave Sears with about 800 stores, down from a peak of 4,000 stores in 2012.
Rob Riecker, Sears' chief financial officer, said in a pre-recorded call that the company's stores are "a critical component in our transformation."
But to meet customer needs and improve financial results, Sears must close poorly performing stores and "focus on our best stores, including our newer smaller-store formats," he said, according to a transcript of the call.
The latest closings underscore the deep-rooted problems at Sears, which was once a one-time powerhouse retailer that survived two world wars and the Great Depression but has been selling off pieces of itself as it burns through money.
"The demise of Sears has felt like a prolonged, drip, drip, drip as evidenced by the string of quarterly sales numbers," said Mark Hamrick, Bankrate.com senior economic analyst. "Essentially, it has been injury by a thousand cuts, whether by failing to staff stores to provide customers with good experiences or by failing to stock better quality merchandise in its stores."
Chairman and CEO Edward Lampert, who combined Sears and Kmart in 2005 after helping to bring the latter out of bankruptcy, has long pledged to save the famed retailer, which started in the 1880s as a mail-order catalog business.
But the stores have remained an albatross. And Kenmore, the retailer's renowned appliance brand, became the latest potential sale after ESL Investments, the company's largest shareholder, headed by Lampert, said it might be interested in buying it.
Sears also has made deals with Amazon. The company announced recently that shoppers could buy any brand of tires on Amazon.com, have them shipped to a Sears Auto Center and then bring in their car to get them installed. Amazon began selling Sears's Kenmore brand of ovens, washers and other appliances last year.
For the period that ended May 5, Sears lost $3.93 per share. It earned $245 million, or $2.29 per share, a year earlier, a quarter that included a $492 million gain tied to the sale of the Craftsman brand.
The weak financial results stand out amid higher consumer confidence and a solid economy. Other chains like Walmart, Best Buy and even other department stores like Macy's have posted rosier results.
— The Associated Press contributed to this story