The Kmart store in Barberton, one of seven remaining Kmarts in Ohio, will close by the middle of December, its financially struggling corporate parent Sears announced Friday.

The Barberton Kmart is in the Magic City Plaza off West Wooster Road. Employees were just recently told the store will be shuttered.

The discount retailer issued a brief statement Friday.

“After careful review, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to close the Kmart store in Barberton, Ohio,” the company said.

“The liquidation sale is expected to begin in mid-September and the store is planned to close by mid-December,” the statement said. “We encourage customers to continue shopping on Kmart.com for all their product needs.”

Kmart declined further comment.

“It’s a surprise but it’s not,” Barberton Mayor Bill Judge said of the pending closing.

The Barberton Kmart has been a retail mainstay in the city for years, he said.

Sears has been closing many of its retail stores going back years, Judge said.

“I’m kind of surprised it lasted this long” in light of that, Judge said.

The mayor said he believes the city’s demographics, coupled with positive economic growth in other areas of Barberton, will mean the Kmart store site won’t remain vacant for long.

“I’m pretty optimistic something will go in there,” Judge said. “I think there’s a strong market in Barberton for retail sales.”

In Summit County, Kmart also has a store off South Avenue in Tallmadge. According to Kmart’s website, the retailer has other stores in Brunswick, North Canton, Marietta, Fostoria, Grove City and Harrison.

Sears Holdings emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year after filing in October 2018. The retailer’s assets were placed into Transform Holdco LLC, which in turn is owned by hedge fund ESL Investments, run by Sears former chief executive and chairman Eddie Lampert.

Transform on Aug. 6 announced it was closing five Kmarts and 21 Sears stores by October. That list of stores did not include the Barberton property.

Sears and Kmart have struggled with the consumer shift to online sales that created years of massive losses.

Sears has closed more than 1,300 Kmart and Sears stores since 2013.

Analysts say Americans are increasingly shopping online, with the average U.S. household spending $5,200 online in 2018, up nearly 50 percent from five years earlier.

Jim Mackinnon covers business. He can be reached at 330-996-3544 or jmackinnon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ