New year, New Sears?
It doesn’t look like it.
The Sears Holdings of 2018 is already starting to look like the Sears Holdings of 2017. The hobbled retailer just announced 103 more store closures across its namesake banner as well as Kmart.
The chains, which closed more than 300 doors last year, will now shutter 39 Sears locations and 64 Kmart stores. That’s in addition to the 63 that were announced in November. Liquidation sales will begin almost immediately.
Sears has been on a cost cutting binge, which totaled $1.25 billion last year largely attributable to real estate sales, store closures and layoffs. That coupled with $600 million in loans from ESL Investments, which is operated by Sears Holdings CEO has allowed it to stave off the bankruptcy that many keep predicting.
[Read more about Sears’ ups and downs last year: Infographic: Defying Doubts, A Diminished Sears Dodges Bankruptcy Throughout 2017]
The retail group has been featured prominently on many lists enumerating the retailers not likely to make it through the year. But then again, it was on those same lists at the start of 2017 as well.
This time, the predictions might be more spot on. The company has sold off its marque Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker, used more locations as collateral for loans and reportedly let its stores fall into disrepair.
And suppliers have taken note. Several vendors have been vocal about the ways in which they’ve pulled back from Sears entirely or have found ways to insulate themselves should a Chapter 11 filing occur.
“I’m amazed that Sears is still around,” said Lauren Beitelspacher, giving voice to the opinion of a growing majority. The marketing professor at Babson College and expert on retail management and buyer-supplier relationships told USA Today, “Right now it feels more like a property firm than an actual retailer.”
At one point, Sears was the most prominent retailer in the country, with holdings that included real estate firms, financial services and insurance. The chain never recovered once Walmart made its surge in the 80s and ultimately it lost its reason to exist.