Kroger Co (NYSE:KR) shut down multiple locations across the U.S. throughout 2017, leaving hundreds of people without work and some communities with limited grocery shopping options. The latest location to shutter sits in Columbus, Ohio, marking the first Kroger store closing in 2018; it will close for good on January 31, with a statement from the company citing weakening sales. Kroger’s, like many other brick-and-mortar stores, has found it difficult to survive and thrive in a world increasingly reliant on online shopping. Nearly every retail store closing in 2018 is expected to resemble the closures this past year, meaning that dozens of companies are likely to shutter hundreds of locations across the U.S.
What makes the first Kroger store closing in 2018 particularly damaging is that its location–at the Northern Lights shopping center in a north Columbus neighborhood–provided one of the few options for food shopping to locals. The Columbus, Ohio store closing may leave many scrambling to find new shopping options, which compounds on economic difficulties that have already impacted the community.
“Kroger continually evaluates each store’s performance to ensure that it is best meeting the needs of the communities, associates and shareholders we serve,” said Mike Murphy, vice president of operations in the Cincinnati-based company’s Columbus division, in a statement. “Unfortunately, we are unable to continue a profitable operation.”
Kroger Store Closings in 2017
As mentioned above, the first of the Kroger store closings in 2018 is nothing new for the beleaguered company. The company’s stock price has suffered over the year as the company looked to shutter underperforming stores in an effort to reduce costs.
Kroger store closings in 2017 affected hundreds of employees in several states. The company operates nearly 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of local names in 35 states and the District of Columbia.
Georgia in particular took quite a few hits in 2017. One shutdown in Augusta left 110 employees without jobs, while another location in Gwinnett County shuttered after about 30 years of business. The store’s 118 employees were offered a standard package from Kroger, where they would be considered for reassignment to other Kroger locations. This is a common feature of the company’s collective bargaining agreement with its workers.
While Georgia was one of the hardest hit states, Michigan also lost two locations, and Kentucky and Tennessee also experienced closings. Ohio also added two locations to the list, with the newest Kroger store closing in 2018 further reducing the company’s presence in the state.
More Retail Store Closings in 2018
While the Columbus, Ohio is one of the first announced closings for the company this year, other retail store closings in 2018 have long been planned. Sears Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:SHLD) is in the midst of a difficult restructuring period, with 63 locations set to close in 2018. Bon-Ton Stores Inc (OTCMKTS:BONT) will also be closing down at least 40 locations this year, while Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) has also announced that 12 stores would be closing in the new year.
Overall, the picture is bleak for the retail industry. Across the board, companies are struggling to find a way to adapt to an increasing preference among consumers to perform their shopping online versus traditional locations. While the companies themselves struggle financially, thousands of workers across the country are paying the price, as the tally of retail stores shut down in 2018 begins.
“Kroger on Cleveland Ave. to close Jan. 31,” The Columbus Dispatch, December 29, 2017.