Supervalu Inc, the US retailer, has decided to close five stores operating under its Shaw’s Supermarkets banner.

The outlets – three in Massachusetts and two in Rhode Island – will be closed by 17 February.

A spokesman for Supervalu said: “Given the competitive markets we operate in, and today’s difficult economic environment, it is occasionally necessary to close those stores that are not profitable. Now, more than ever, it is critical that we not lose focus on improving the business, satisfying our customers and staying strong in this economy.”

In February, Supervalu sold all its 11 Shaw’s stores in Connecticut. A month later, it was announced that 4% of Shaw’s staff – around 1,200 employees – would be laid off to “streamline” the business.

Before Christmas, The Wall Street Journal reported that Supervalu had been trying to sell the Shaw’s chain for months but had yet to find a buyer.