Robert Niblock, Lowe's president and CEO, told the Sacramento Business Journal that the closures are necessary to improve profitability.
The California stores marked for closing are in Westminster and in Los Banos, not far from where Lowe's last week won approval from the Salinas City Council to locate a new store there. A city spokesman said plans to break ground for the new store within the next two months are still on track.
Lowe's opened its Dublin store three years ago at Grafton Station, but so far that outdoor shopping center has failed to attract many other retailers. Competitor Home Depot has major stores just a short distance away in both Pleasanton and Livermore.
Home Depot petitioned the city of Pleasanton to allow it to build a second, more upscale store in the corner of Bernal Avenue and Stanley Boulevard. That request failed to gain much interest on the part of the City Council, but Home Depot and the property owner seeking the zoning approval ultimately dropped the bid.
Lowe's, headquartered in North Carolina, previously predicted it would open about 30 stores in the coming year, but has since scaled that back to 10 or 15 stores a year starting in 2012.