J.C. Penney is closing its North Shore Square store in Slidell, one of 138 locations that the retailer will shut down beginning April 17.
The store is expected to close by mid-June. Two other Louisiana stores are targeted for closure: Cortana Mall in Baton Rouge and one in DeRidder.
Penney's will still have 13 stores in Louisiana: two in Lafayette and one each in Covington; Metairie; Gretna; Houma; Hammond; Baton Rouge; Lake Charles; Monroe; Alexandria; Shreveport; and Bossier City.
J.C. Penney said last month it would shut stores to improve profitability in the era of online shopping. The closures will affect about 5,000 employees nationally. The closings will leave J.C. Penney with about 900 stores.
Slidell Mayor Freddy Drennan said that he was notified Friday morning of the decision to close the store in North Shore Square, at one time the city's premier shopping center. The Penney's announcement follows the closure of Burlington Coat Factory last month, leaving the mall with only two anchors.
"Obviously it's not good, and we don't want to see it close," Drennan said of the mall that was built in the 1980s. Drennan said that he had talked to officials with Morguard Management Co., which owns the mall, at the time that Burlington closed. They told him then that they had offered Burlington a rent-free deal to keep the store, as they had done with the Sears store that closed in 2014 — to no avail.
Drennan said that he presumes that Morguard made a similar effort to keep Penney's.
He called the closings part of a national trend. ""The internet is killing us, that's my opinion," Drennan said.
Despite the opening of huge new shopping center on the south side of town in 2014, Fremaux Town Center, sales tax collections in Slidell have remained flat, Drennan said, a reflection of the pressures on retailers.