There is one more department store that will soon be departing from the Georgia Square Mall on Atlanta Highway.
As reported in The Red & Black, an Aug. 6 press release from Sears’ parent company announced its plans to close 21 Sears stores and five Kmart stores nationwide, including its only Athens location.
The 26 stores will close in late October, according to the press release. Liquidation sales for the stores are to begin this week on Aug. 15 while the Sears Auto Centers at these stores will close later this month.
“Over the past several months, we have worked hard to strengthen our vendor relationships, return our inventory levels to normal, and improve customer satisfaction and operations; however, we have faced a number of challenges returning our stores to sustainable levels of productivity, including differences with Sears Holdings over our purchase agreement and a generally weak retail environment,” the press release stated.
The press release also said the company will focus on growing its smaller scale Home & Life and Sears Hometown outlet stores, which sell home goods products and appliances.
Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Oct. 2018 — Transform Holdco LLC, an affiliate of Connecticut-based hedge fund ESL Investments, acquired Sears Holding Corporation’s assets in Feb. 2019 for approximately $5.2 billion. Edward Lampert, former CEO of Sears Holdings, is the founder and CEO of ESL Investments.
The company said in the press release it “cannot rule out additional store closures in the near term.”
“All eligible associates will be offered the same number of weeks of severance as offered to employees of Sears Holdings Corporation prior to that company’s Chapter 11 filing in October 2018,” according to the press release.
In March 2017, the Macy’s department store closed at the Athens mall. With Sears closing, the mall’s only remaining department stores will be Belk and JCPenney.
Department stores in malls and shopping centers act as “anchor stores,” which are usually large, well-known stores that attract customers. After establishing popular department stores such as Sears or Macy’s, smaller stores pop up and aide the anchor stores and smaller businesses.
With the increasing popularity of online sellers, including Amazon and eBay, traditional department stores have suffered.
Amazon’s net sales hit $232.9 billion in 2018, compared to its net sales in 2004 of $6.9 billion. The online retail company's net revenue increased 31% between 2017-2018.
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