In the age of the internet, it’s adapt or die for many brick-and-mortar retailers. Sears looks like it’s closer to the latter and here’s why.
Sears Holdings continued its steady drip of store closures Friday with the announcement that it would shutter 35 Kmart locations and eight Sears stores.
The department-store chain’s existential crisis has included several rounds of store closures this year, now totaling more than 300.
Although the iconic American department store chain still has more than 1,000 locations, Sears has buckled under pressure from online competitors, having failed to reinvent its brick-and-mortar experience.
“We have fought hard for many years to return unprofitable stores to a competitive position and to preserve jobs and, as a result, we had to absorb corresponding losses in the process,” Sears CEO Eddie Lampert said in a blog post.
More on store closures:
See the full list of 43 stores closing
Sears closed 150 stores this spring; see the list
Sears quietly closes 30 more stores
Another 49 Kmart and 17 Sears are slated to close
20 more Sears stores closing
“So, it is obvious that we don’t make decisions to close stores lightly. Our efforts have been, and will continue to be, fact-based, thoughtful and disciplined, with the goal of making Sears Holdings more relevant and more competitive for our members and other constituents.”
The new closures include four Kmarts in Florida and three in Ohio, and three Sears locations in Indiana. (See the full list.)
Sears is one of many retail giants struggling to find its footing, or simply survive, amid a landscape dramatically transformed by a shift to online shopping and rise of Amazon.
J.C. Penney has said it will shutter 138 locations, roughly 14% of its stores, and give buyouts to 6,000 employees. Macy’s plans to shut 68 stores. Radio Shack, which has sought bankruptcy protection twice in two years, has closed more than 1,000 locations since Memorial Day weekend. And one-time mall favorites Bebe, The Limited, and Wet Seal have closed or are in the process of shuttering all of their storefronts.
Why we loved Sears: The Sears catalog
Sears’ latest round of cuts comes less than a month after the most recent round, in which the company quietly announced plans to close 20 locations.
Sears acknowledged in March that there was “substantial doubt” it would survive on its own, though the company said its cost-cutting maneuvers and other retail strategies would greatly improve its chances of carrying on. Lampert has blasted critics for treating Sears like it’s dead.
Lampert said Friday in a blog post that the company would add small-format locations, though he did not provide specifics on the plan.
The company is close to meeting its previous target of $1.25 billion in cost cuts for the year, which includes the store closures and corporate layoffs.
Sears also raised about $900 million by selling its Craftsman brand and is considering selling other assets.
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