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J.C. Penney said Thursday it will close about 40 stores over the next year. The closures, which represent nearly 4 percent of the 1,060 Penney U.S. stores, will affect about 2,250 employees, according to spokesman Joey Thomas.

Penney's stock was down about 2 percent in early trading Thursday. Most locations will close on or about April 4. The announcement comes one day after the retailer said that its same-store sales rose 3.7 percent during the crux of the holiday season. Analysts have been calling for J.C. Penney, along with other retailers that they consider to have too many locations, to downsize their store counts.

By shuttering underperforming stores, retailers are able to cut costs in an environment when more sales are taking place online.


-- Krystina Gustafson, CNBC