MILFORD >> Department store giant J.C. Penney will not renew its lease at the Connecticut Post Mall, leaving the shopping center without one of its five anchor stores.

The Plano, Texas, retailer is closing the Milford store along with 137 others nationwide. About 5,000 people across the U.S. could lose their jobs as a result, although company officials say they are looking to transfer some workers from stores that are closing to nearby locations.

The closing will leave J.C. Penney seven stores in Connecticut: Farmington, Trumbull, Manchester, Danbury, Torrington. Waterbury and Waterford. It was not clear Friday how many people work at the mall store.

SALES IN APRIL

Liquidation sales will begin April 17, and most of the closings will be complete by June, Penney officials said in a statement.

The last J.C. Penney store to close in Connecticut was in the Meriden Square Mall in May 2014.

David Cadden, a professor emeritus at Quinnipiac University’s School of Business, said chains like J.C. Penney are cutting store locations as they try to reinvent themselves amid changing shopping patterns driven largely by e-commerce.

“Brick-and-mortar retailers are on the ropes right now because they have failed to move adeptly and quickly enough against e-commerce competitors,” Cadden said Friday.

LOSING AN ANCHOR

While the news is troubling for loyal J.C. Penney shoppers in the area, Cadden said it is worrisome for the mall, where it is an anchor store.

“That is a vacancy that the mall is going to want to rush to fill,” he said. “Once you lose an anchor store, it has a tremendous negative effect that only compounds over time.”

The anchor store concept involves a select group of large retailers that take the biggest spaces in a shopping center to serve as draw for other smaller retailers in a mall, Cadden said.

In addition to J.C. Penney, the other mall anchors are Dick’s Sporting Goods, Macy’s, Sears and Target.

“Stores like Macys and J.C. Penney attract large numbers of people, and for those shoppers to get to an anchor store, you usually have to walk past the smaller retailers,” he said.

When asked what might fill the J.C. Penney space in the Connecticut Post Mall, Cadden was hard pressed to name likely successors.

“You might have to carve it up, floor by floor,” he said. “You might find a retailer to take one floor, but not both.”

NEW OPPORTUNITIES

The mall is operated by Centennial Real Estate of Dallas and is owned by a consortium of three companies.

Danielle Reiss, a spokeswoman for the mall, said J.C. Penney’s decision not to renew its lease at the shopping center “opens up some new opportunities for us.”

Centennial does not view the J.C. Penney closing as a hardship, she said.

“We’re constantly looking for new ways to improve the shopping experience here,” Reiss said.

Call Luther Turmelle at 203-680-9388.