Sobeys in St. Stephen

The Sobeys store in St. Stephen will close at 6 p.m. on July 5, along with almost 50 other stores across the country. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

An online petition to save the Sobeys store in St. Stephen already has more than 1,000 signatures.

Last week, Sobeys announced it is closing about 50 underperforming stores across Canada, including six in the Atlantic region.

Jeff Schell started an online petition, called Save Our Sobeys, S.O.S., for the St. Stephen location, on the website

"People are upset. People don't want to see this store leave," said Schell.

"They're either upset at the loss of competition, or they're upset the fact that these people are out of work and are going to have to either move to Saint John or Fredericton to find work because the unemployment rate is very high."

Schell says people will now have to shop at the Superstore, or across the border in Calais, Maine.

Sobeys says the St. Stephen store wasn't meeting its sales targets.

It is scheduled to close on Sunday at 6 p.m.

The Foodland stores in Tracadie, Perth-AndoverEdmundston, Nashwaaksis, and Amherst, N.S., are also slated to close that day.

Nova Scotia-based Empire Co. Ltd., the parent company of Sobeys, says it's closing about 50 underperforming Sobeys to improve its net earnings. It says about 60 per cent of the affected stores are in Western Canada.

The closures are part of the company’s long-term business strategy, officials have said. In October 2013, the Competition Bureau of Canada ordered Sobeys to sell 23 stores in Western Canada before it would approve its $5.8-billion purchase of Safeway Canada.