Party City plans to close 45 stores, eliminate plastic straws and boost its balloon business

Party City plans to close 45 of its 870 stores this year, and has found a new source of helium to alleviate the shortages affecting its balloon business.

The chain, which operates more than 40 stores in Illinois, did not disclose the locations of the stores that will close throughout the year. However, the DeKalb Daily Chronicle reported last month that the DeKalb store will close Nov. 30.

Typically, Elmsford, N.Y.-based Party City has closed 10 to 15 stores annually.

The planned store closings were announced Thursday, as the company reported a first-quarter net loss of $30.3 million. In a call with financial analysts, CEO James Harrison said Party City also will test four new smaller-format stores this year and is developing a new store concept “designed to improve the overall shopping experience and product merchandising of our stores to provide a crisper, cleaner and easier shopping environment and a more open footprint.”

The retailer also has made investments in equipment so it can manufacture its own paper straws for sale, and will eliminate all plastic straws from its stores by the end of 2020.

A shortage of helium has affected the chain’s balloon sales, but Harrison said the company has found a new source of helium that will help stores, beginning this summer.

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