As Department Stores Continue to Close Across America, Lower Income Families Hurt Most

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More than one hundred stores owned by Sears will close in 2018, according to CNBC. Sears Holdings announced to its employees on Thursday that 64 Kmart stores and 39 Sears stores would be closed by between early March and April of this year. These newly announced closures add to the over 400 closures that took place in 2017.

A company spokesperson declined to tell Reuters the number of jobs lost, but did say that the majority were part time workers. The spokesperson also said that “eligible workers” will receive severance. In accordance with many local laws across the country, in general only full time positions are eligible for severance.

Liquidation sales in the closing stores will begin as soon as January 12th.

This announcement continues the trend of larger department and discount stores—like Macy’s, Kohl’s, Kmart, and JCPenney—shuttering their physical properties. In a statement on Thursday, Sears Holidays said that they will continue closing “unprofitable stores so that our physical store footprint and our digital capabilities match the needs and preferences of our members.”


In a look at the demographics of Walmart, Kmart, Target, Aldi’s, and Kohl’s customers by Business Insider, Kmart shoppers had the lowest average annual household income. Almost 50% of Kmart customers had an annual household income of under $35,000 in 2012. On average, Kmart customers are lower income, of color, and of an older age than the average American consumer.

While it’s true that many shoppers now use online portals for their shopping needs, in areas across the country low-income shoppers have been shown to rely on the immediacy, low costs, and diversity of products that physical stores have. Stores may subtly imply that a movement online will benefit their consumers, those who are most affected by store closures aren’t the ones spearheading the movement online and are left behind as the stores they frequent close around them.