Pedestrians pass a Kmart location in New York. Sears Holdings Corp. is announcing, that it will close 68 Kmart stores and 10 Sears stores as it struggles to restore profitabilitySears-Layoffs, New York, USA

Sears Holdings Corp. has given many of its employees the proverbial lump of coal just before the start of the holiday season via the closure of 63 stores.

The closures — 45 Kmart stores and 18 Sears locations — are on top of the 350 that were announced earlier this year. Sears said liquidation sales would begin on Nov. 9, with the stores going dark in late January 2018. Of the 18 Sears locations slated to close, 15 have a Sears Auto Center scheduled to close in early December, with the store itself shuttering a month later. Last year, Sears closed more than 280 stores.

The company in a blog post Friday, said, “Sears Holdings continues its strategic assessment of the productivity of our Kmart and Sears store base and will continue to right size our store footprint in number and size.”

The company further said, “It’s important to note that these stores will remain open to serve members during the holiday season. Eligible associates impacted by these store closures will receive severance and will have the opportunity to apply for open positions at area Kmart or Sears stores.”

When Kmart merged with Sears, Roebuck & Co. in 2005 in an $11 billion deal to form Sears Holdings, the combined entity had projected annual revenues of $55 billion and more than 3,500 stores in operation. Since 2005, and particularly in more recent years, store closures seem to have accelerated as the business worsened, although chairman Edward S. Lampert insists the closures are all part of a process to turn the retailer’s model into a membership-based business.

Following the new closures, Kmart will operate under 500 stores and Sears will have a store count under the 1,150 range by the end of January 2018. Those numbers bring Sears Holdings close to half of the total store count — 1,200 Kmart locations and 2,100 Sears domestic stores — it had at the start of 2012.

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