Staples to close 225 stores as sales move online

Move follows RadioShack decision to close 1,100 stores

by TOM MURPHY | AP Business Writer Published:

Staples will shut down more than 10 percent of its stores in North American by the end of next year, the second major chain to announce the mass closing of stores this week and the latest evidence of a retail landscape that is being altered drastically by the way Americans shop.

The nation’s largest office-supply company said March 6 that nearly half of its sales are now generated online and it is working aggressively to cut costs and become more efficient. It aims to close up to 225 North American stores as part of a plan to save about $500 million by the end of 2015.

It had already closed dozens of stores in the past year.

Staples would not elaborate on the number of jobs that are being cut, nor the locations of stores that will close.

Staples has 1,846 stores in North America and Canada, the vast majority in the United States.

The recession did heavy damage to chains like Staples, which also face growing competition online as well as from discount stores. But the same thing is happening across the retail sector, no matter if the company is selling clothes, books, or electronics.

On March 4, RadioShack announced plans to close up to 1,100 stores, about a fifth of its U.S. locations, after its losses widened during a dismal holiday season.

In the subcategory of office retail, there is a rapid consolidation taking place, both in physical presence and among one-time rivals.

Staples has cut the size of its typical store in half over the past several years.

Last fall, with sales flagging, rivals Office Depot and OfficeMax completed a $1.2 billion merger.

Shares of Staples Inc. tumbled March 6 after the company posted disappointing numbers for its most recent quarter and issued a weak forecast.

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