Sears, the struggling department store chain, said Thursday it will close another 72 Sears and Kmart stores, including three in the suburbs.
Continuing the decline of what was once the country's largest retailer, the Hoffman Estates-based company said it will close Sears stores at Hawthorn Center in Vernon Hills, Fox Valley Center in Aurora and Gurnee Mills. Sears in Springfield is also on the list to close, as is a Kmart in Rockford.
Hawthorn and Fox Valley Center each are losing another anchor with the closing of Carson's as a result of its parent company's sale to a pair of liquidation firms.
Vernon Hills village leaders said the Sears closing has been anticipated for some time.
Officials from the village have been in communication with Hawthorn Mall and its owner, the Centennial real estate firm, "about the opportunity for the center's evolution," said Vernon Hills Village President Roger Byrne.
"The mall recently underwent improvements with the development of a new Dave and Busters, Maggiano's and state-of-the-art AMC movie theater," he said. "The village looks forward to the next phase in the mall's evolution."
Sears said sales dropped 30 percent in the most recent quarter, leading to a loss of $424 million. Sales have fallen for more than six straight years despite efforts to revamp stores, stock more mattresses and appliances, and partner with sites like Amazon.
After the latest closings, there will be about 820 Sears and Kmart stores, down from about 2,000 five years ago.
"The demise of Sears has felt like a prolonged drip, drip, drip," said Mark Hamrick, an analyst for Bankrate.com. "By diminishing the quality of the in-store experience, Sears has basically trained consumers to avoid going inside."
On Thursday, executives said they were looking into selling the retailer's Kenmore brand of appliances, which has been one of the bright spots in the company's performance. Last year, Sears sold its Craftsman brand to Stanley Black and Decker for $900 million. Earlier this month, the retailer said it would begin selling tires on Amazon.com, where it already sells its Kenmore line of appliances, giving consumers another way to avoid its stores. (Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, also owns The Washington Post.)
Sears, founded in 1893 as a mail-order business, has faced a number of hurdles in recent years as consumers increasingly shop online. Sales at Sears stores open at least one year, a closely watched industry metric, fell 13.4 percent during the most recent quarter. Same-store sales at Kmart, meanwhile, declined 9.5 percent.
The company's stock fell 11 percent to $2.86 Thursday morning. Shares are down more than 90 percent from five years ago, when they were trading at $36.83.
• Business Writer Kim Mikus contributed to this report.