Two Sears department stores and their associated Auto Centers will soon close.
The locations at Walden Galleria in Cheektowaga and Boulevard Mall in Amherst will remain open to customers until mid-April, with liquidation sales beginning Jan. 6. Boulevard Mall’s Auto Center is located north of the mall across Maple Road at 1435 Niagara Falls Blvd.
Sears Holdings, the parent company of Sears and Kmart, said it was a "difficult, but necessary decision" to close.
"We have been strategically and aggressively evaluating our store space and productivity, and will be accelerating the closing of unprofitable stores as we have previously announced," Howard Riefs, a corporate spokesman, said in an email.
Eligible employees will receive severance and may apply for open positions at nearby Sears or Kmart stores. Most employees are part-time, hourly.
Stores at McKinley, Summit and Eastern Hills Malls will remain open.
Losing a long-time, traditional anchor is a major blow to any shopping center, but it is expected to be particularly damaging to Boulevard Mall. That center has faced a rash of store closures and will likely see many more. When WS Development transforms the former Northtown Plaza, it plans to take several of the mall’s important stores, including Loft, Justice, Hallmark, Banana Republic, Victoria’s Secret, Lids, Justice, Claire’s Boutique and Gymboree.
Sears has been struggling financially for years, losing $9.8 billion since 2011. To stanch the bleeding and raise cash, the company has been closing stores and selling off its real estate. In the past six years, Sears Holdings has gone from having 4,000 Sears and Kmart stores to just 1,500. The company has also begun looking for buyers for its valuable Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard brands.
Last quarter, Sears Holdings lost $748 million. Revenue dropped 12.5 percent, partially because of store closings in the third quarter and partially because of a drop in sales at the remaining stores.
When the third quarter results were announced, Sears’ CFO Jason Hollar said the company would “continue to accelerate the closing of underperforming stores,” but did not disclose which ones. The company has not announced a list of store closings, but individual store closures have trickled out through news media across the country.