Two Eastern Carolina Sears Stores Closing

Sears says it will close 79 stores across the country and two of them are here in Eastern Carolina.

The Sears at Golden East Crossing in Rocky Mount will shut down, along with the Sears at Cypress Bay Plaza in Morehead City. No timetable has yet been released on exactly when the stores will shut down.

No Kmart stores in Eastern Carolina were on the list. The only other Sears closings in North Carolina are in High Point and Statesville.

Sears says additional store closings will be announced at a later date.

Of those 79 stores scheduled to close, 41 are Sears stores, while 38 are Kmart locations.

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More than 100 Sears and Kmart stores will be shutting their doors for good.

The company that owns the two chains is making the move in order to raise cash after a weak holiday shopping season for the retailer. As many as 120 stores will close.

Today's announcement is fueling speculation about whether Sears, which has a 125-year history, can turn itself around and survive. The company has been struggling with falling sales and shabby stores as rivals like Wal-Mart and Target spruce up their looks and turn into one-stop shopping destinations.

Some industry experts say part of the problem that Sears is facing is that economic difficulties continue to grip its core customers. The middle-income shoppers have seen their wages fail to keep up with higher costs for household basics like food.

But analysts say the bigger issue is that Sears hasn't invested in remodeling, leaving its stores uninviting.

Billionaire investor Edward Lampert bought Kmart out of bankruptcy in 2003, and purchased Sears, Roebuck a year later.

Sears has more than 4,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada, including stores in Eastern Carolina. According to a statement on the company's corporate website, a final determination has not been made on which stores to close. The statement says a list will be posted on the website when that decision is made, but no time frame is given.

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