(USA TODAY) - Sears Holdings said Thursday that it would close another 28 Kmart locations as it continues its cost-cutting campaign amid a precipitous decline for the department-store sector.
The Kmart closures add to a list of 330 Sears or Kmart locations shuttered or set to be closed later this year as the retailer seeks stability. The company still has about 1,000 stores.
The chain said it would notify Kmart employees later today at the affected locations and publicly release a list of closing stores this afternoon.
Sales at Sears and Kmart stores open at least a year, a key metric in the retail industry, tumbled 11.5% for the period as consumer electronics sales, in particular, fell sharply, the company said Thursday.
The company also posted a net loss of $251 million for its fiscal second quarter, down from a loss of $395 million a year earlier.
Revenue fell 23% to $4.4 billion, in part because of fewer stores.
For Sears, the iconic but beleaguered retailer that has closed stores and borrowed cash to stay afloat, the upcoming holiday season may be more critical than most as it tries to rebound from yet another round of disappointing sales.
Sears was one of the last major department-store chains to report this earnings season, and the results reaffirmed their difficulties as they try to stay relevant in a retail environment upended by fast-fashion and online shopping.
Nordstrom was one of the few bright spots, posting a 3.5% increase in net sales to $3.7 billion. But Macy's, whose sales were better than analysts expected, still missed profit projections. J.C. Penney reported a net loss of $62 million, partly due to its closing 127 stores in a single quarter.
During the period, Sears got a boost when it agreed to begin selling its Kenmore appliance brand on Amazon, which encouraged investors. Earlier this year, the company also sold its signature Craftsman brand for more than $900 million, set a goal to cut $1.25 billion in costs and continues to raise cash by selling off real estate.
But there appear to be few quick fixes to Sears' troubles which began nearly two decades ago, when the company sold its more than $30 billion credit portfolio to Citibank in 2003, and then merged with Kmart, another struggling retailer, a year later.
In March, investors were rattled when Sears said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had "substantial doubt" about its ability to stay in business unless it could borrow more and wring cash from assets. The notification was required based on a three-year-old rule change that requires companies to be more transparent about potential risks they face within a year of their reported financial statements.
But at the time independent auditor, Deloitte, said it believed Sears Holdings was still viable. And Sears CEO Edward Lampert has been emphatic that talk about the company's demise has been "harmful,'' and the company is battling hard to rebound.
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