The "liquidation sale" at the Macy's store at Suburban Square in Ardmore begins Monday, with steep discounts on most items.

The store is one of 40 the company is closing nationwide. The closures were officially announced Wednesday as part of the company's strategy to cut costs and shed expensive real estate in underperforming locations.

Although no date has been set for the Ardmore store's final day, the company said it wants this batch of stores closed by March 31.

"The process of closing a store usually takes anywhere from eight to 12 weeks," Macy's spokeswoman Elina Kazan said.

She said the 74 Macy's employees who are being displaced by the Suburban Square closing will be offered positions in nearby stores when possible.

The move is part of a plan by Macy's to deal with increasing competition. It is feeling the heat from "fast-fashion, high-volume, low-priced" retailers such as Forever 21 and H&M, as well as the growth of online shopping, which is reducing the business of brick-and-mortar stores.

"In light of our disappointing 2015 sales and earnings performance, we are making adjustments to become more efficient," Terry J. Lundgren, chairman and chief executive officer of Macy's Inc., said in a statement Wednesday.

Same-store sales fell 4.7 percent in November and December 2015 combined. The company also lowered its 2015 earnings guidance for the second time since early November.

Lundgren said the changes represent more than two-thirds of the company's goal to trim expenses by $500 million from previously planned levels for 2018. Among the changes:

Adjusting staffing levels at each Macy's and Bloomingdale's store. An average of three to four positions will be eliminated in each of 770 stores, for a total of about 3,000.

Implementing a voluntary separation program for about 165 senior executives in Macy's and Bloomingdale's stores, office, and support functions.

Reducing 600 positions in back-office organizations.

A Bloomingdale's Outlet Store debuted last month at 17th and Chestnut Streets - reflecting the chain's deep dive into off-price stores.

The company "has to go through a three-year restructuring program to work on its problems," said New York-based retail consultant Howard Davidowitz. "They are a high-cost operator. One reason is that their stores are too big.

"They are closing stores, but also have to cut up stores for mixed-use development and monetize some other real estate," he said. "It's an intelligent move, because they have billions of dollars worth of real estate. They are a positive cash-flow business."

Macy's occupies 99,000 square feet at Suburban Square, dwarfing other retailers.

Nina Rogers, director of real estate for Kimco Realty Corp. - landlord for Suburban Square - said Kimco hoped to announce a new tenant this summer.

Macy's customers say they can sense the stores' struggles. "I've left the store without a purchase because the lines at some registers were way too long," said Ellen Walters, 70, an educational consultant from Maple Glen. "No manager is properly managing to be sure the shopping experience is positive."

SUBURBAN SQUARE'S HISTORY

Age: 87. It was one of the first shopping centers in the United States when it opened in 1928.

Nickname: "The downtown of the lower Main Line."

Location: About four miles from Villanova University.

Milestone: It had one of the first department- store anchors when Strawbridge & Clothier opened there in 1930. Macy's replaced Strawbridge's in 2006.

Number of storefronts: 108, with Macy's the largest at 99,000 square feet.

Number of retailers and restaurants: 40 and 12, respectively.

Anchor tenants: Macy's, which will close by March 31. Banana Republic, the other anchor.

Number of Macy's employees being displaced: 74.

sparmley@phillynews.com

215-854-4184 @SuzParmley