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Party City says it is closing 45 stores, amid a global helium shortage

Kelly Tyko

Amid a global helium shortage, Party City announced Thursday it will shutter 45 stores in 2019.

The New Jersey-based party supplies company did not release a list of affected stores but said the closures will take place throughout the year.  

There are 870 Party City stores in the U.S. and Canada and the closures represent about 5% of locations. Local news outlets have so far reported closings in California, Illinois, Connecticut and Washington. 

Party City CEO James Harrison said in a statement Thursday the company typically closes 10 to 15 stores each year.

“It’s important to note that Party City’s decision to close an increased number of stores in 2019 is completely unrelated to the global helium issue," Harrison said in an emailed statement Friday, noting that the company had "made significant in-roads in addressing" the shortage.

"The decision to close 45 stores in 2019 is part of our network optimization process focusing on maximizing store performance on a market basis," Harrison said.

The company said it believes the closures will improve its overall profitability.

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The year has been a tough one for retailers with more store closings already announced than all of 2018.

Based on figures from global marketing research firm Coresight Research, bankruptcy filings and company earnings reports, more than 6,500 have announced they will close locations.

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In 2018, Coresight tracked 5,528 closings, which included all Toys R Us locations, plus hundreds of Mattress Firm stores, Kmart and Sears locations, and Brookstone's remaining mall stores.

Party City said it is working to secure a new helium source and a contract, which is subject to final approval, would provide its stores with helium beginning this summer and continuing for several years.

"We believe this new source should substantially eliminate the shortfall we are experiencing at current allocation rates and improve our ability to return to a normal level of latex and metallic balloon sales," Harrison said. 

Contributing: Melanie Anzidei, North Jersey Record

Follow Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Party City says it is closing 45 stores, amid a global helium shortage