Fontana, Indio and Los Angeles Kmart closures among dozens throughout nation



Among 64 stores nationwide Kmart will close, three are in Southern California — Fontana, Indio and Los Angeles — a company spokesman said Monday.

The stores are expected to close sometime in mid-December, with liquidation sales beginning Thursday, according to a statement from Kmart spokesman Howard Riefs. The company, owned by Sears Holdings Corp., has been facing financial hard times for years, it has been widely reported.

“We have been strategically and aggressively evaluating our store space and productivity, and are accelerating the closing of unprofitable stores as we have previously announced,” Riefs said in a statement.

The number of impacted associates “is not publicly available,” according to Riefs, who added eligible associates will receive severance and have the opportunity to apply for open positions at area Sears or Kmart stores. Most of the associates are part-time or hourly workers.

“We continue to face a challenging competitive environment, and while we continue to focus on our overall profitability, including managing expenses, we reported a net loss for the second quarter,” Edward Lampert, Sears CEO and chairman, said in a quarterly report in August.

Kmart sales declined 3.3 percent in the second quarter this year. Sales declines were seen in the pharmacy, grocery and household and consumer electronics categories, according to the company.

“Kmart has continued to be in financial disarray,” said retail expert Craig Rosenblum, a partner with the consumer goods and retail consulting firm Willard Bishop. “They haven’t been hitting sales targets and they’ve been closing stores to cut expenses.”

Rosenblum said he expects to see continued downsizing.

“I think all you can compare them to are Wal-Mart and Target,” Rosenblum said. “If you look at the shopping environment and the ability to provide good products and a nice shopping environment, Kmart hasn’t been able to keep up.”

Rosenblum said Kmart should find ways to differentiate itself from other mass-retail players.

“Wal-Mart, for example, went to groceries and, in the last couple of years, has enhanced its perishable produce and deli meat offerings,” he said. “Target has continued to enhance its home decor and soft goods.”

Then there’s online shopping behemoth Amazon, which has taken a big bite of the market share from traditional retailers.

“Amazon has continued to take share from just about everybody,” he said.

The three Kmart locations — 17099 Valley Blvd. in Fontana; 81691 Highway 111 in Indio; and 5850 S. Vermont Ave. in Los Angeles — will be open until mid-December.

All operating Kmart locations are listed here.


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