- Associated Press - Friday, March 17, 2017

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - Four Alabama cities will be looking to fill a hole in their retail economy following a decision by J.C. Penney Co.

The store chain is closing stores in Auburn, Bessemer, Gadsden and Jasper as it shuts down 138 locations nationwide.

An executive with the company that owns the Auburn Mall, Jim Hull, says the decision reflects declining sales by J.C. Penney and isn’t isolated to one place.

Hull says retailers are struggling to face competition from online shopping and evolving needs and tastes.

The closures are part of the company’s previously announced plans to focus on its best-performing stores. Nine stores will close in Texas, the most of any state.

Liquidation sales will start next month, and most of the stores will be closed by mid-June.

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