Just three days into the new year, Sears and Macy's have announced sweeping closures at stores across the country, including right here in New Jersey.

Four stores out of 150 Sears and Kmart stores will close in the Garden State, while three of 68 Macy's stores scheduled to close are located in the state.

Kmart stores in Clemonton, East Brunswick, Pleasantville and Rio Grande are scheduled to be shuttered at the end of March, according to an announcement from Sears Holdings, the parent company of the two chains.

Meanwhile, the Macy's locations in Moorestown, Voorhees and Wayne will also be closed. There was no closure date announced for the Macy's stores.

Of the three Macy's locations, Wayne is the oldest, having opened in 1963 and currently employing 72 associates. Voorhees is the largest New Jersey location to be closing, having opened in 1970 with 77 associates for the 224,000-square-foot store. Moorestown is the newest of the three to open, having been in the southern part of the state since 1999 with 107 current employees.

The latest announcement from Macy's is part of an overall effort announced in August to close about 100 locations.

Terry J. Lundgren, chairman and chief executive officer of Macy's, said the closures are part of the company's efforts to "gain market share and return to growth over time."

Lundgren said that while the company has seen success in its online sales, that good news has not translated into their storefronts.

"Given the overall trends challenging us and the broader retail industry, and the time needed to execute new strategies, we expect our 2017 change in comparable sales to be relatively consistent with our November/December sales trend."

Sears Holdings said the move "is a difficult but necessary step as we take actions to strengthen the Company's operations and fund its transformation." The stores chosen were cited as having struggled financially over the course of several years.

"In order to meet our objective of returning to profitability, we have to make tough decisions and will continue to do so, which will give our better performing stores a chance at success."

Employees of the Sears stores who qualify will be offered a severance package and will be able to apply at other company stores. The company also announced that liquidation sales will begin at these stores starting Friday.

Sears opened its first store more than 90 years ago, while Kmart was founded 55 years ago. The companies merged when Kmart bought the older brand for $11 billion in 2005, but has struggled financially, forcing the closure of many stores in recent years.

According to Business insider the closings represent 10 percent of the company's total stores, and brings the closures for the fiscal year to more than 200. In 2011, Sears had more than 3,500 stores, while the closures will bring that number down to less than 1,500 open locations.

Macy's currently has more than 880 stores. The company estimates the closings will allow a savings of close to $550 million in 2017, which they said will allow investing close to $250 million into other parts of their operations.

Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-353-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com

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