To loosely paraphrase Trump, “Amazon is winning so much, it must be sick and tired of winning.”
Just hours after Macy’s announced it would lay off another 5,000 workers and shutter an additional 7 stores as part of its operational overhaul, bringing the total number of stores shut since 2015 to 124 as Amazon slowly but surely wins the game, Sears Holdings, the parent company of Sears and Kmart stores, announced on Thursday that it will be closing an additional 100 stores this year.
The breakdown consists of 64 Kmart stores and 39 Sears stores, all of which are expected to shut between early March and April, with the company explaining the move as follows: “we will continue to close some unprofitable stores as we transform our business model so that our physical store footprint and our digital capabilities match the needs and preferences of our members.”
The good news – if only for shoppers – is that like in Macy’s case, liquidation sales will begin as early as Jan. 12 at the closing stores.
Unlike Macy’s, however, Sears did not say how many employees would be terminated as a result of the closings but did say the majority of the jobs lost, certainly in the thousands, will be part-time positions, while eligible associates will receive severance according to CNBC.
Exactly one year ago, Sears disclosed the full extent of its financial dire straits when it unveiled plans to pay down over $400 million toward its pension obligation, which would be funded through the sale of 140 properties. Since then, the company has been chronically shutting down most of its less profitable outlets. Since then, the department store chain has been testing smaller store formats across the U.S., and in some cases moving to occupy a small portion of a bigger box, as mall operators redevelop their properties.
As CNBC reported, on a recent call with analysts and investors, Sears CFO Rob Riecker said the retailer would be building on those new concepts in the coming months, “delivering specialized integrated retail experiences” to customers. Sears also recently started selling two of its brands, Kenmore and DieHard, on Amazon.com.
At the end of November, Sears reported a narrower – if still gaping – net loss for its fiscal third quarter than it did a year ago, as the company pushes to return to profitability against a backdrop of vendor disputes and loans coming due.
However, in an indication that Sears financial woes are not relenting, on the last day of 2017 we learned that the embattled retailer bought few national TV ads during the 2017 year-end holiday season.
The corporate parent of Sears and KMart chain ran just a few national TV spots in November, mainly remnant inventory from older ad campaigns, and none at all since, according to data provided Sunday by iSpot.tv, an advertising measurement company.
In contrast, retail competitors Walmart, Target, JC Penney, Macy’s, Kohl’s and others collectively purchased dozens of TV ads between Sept. 1 and Dec. 30, the data showed. Macy’s alone bought 146 spots, according to the data.
Sears, Kmart joined their retail competitors with heavy TV advertising campaigns during December 2016, the also data showed.
While some speculated that the advertising shift may signal that the Illinois-based company is focusing more attention on selling via online and social media marketing as U.S. consumers increasingly do their shopping via the Internet, others suggested that this is just another confirmation of the company’s ongoing cash squeeze.
While it is unclear just how much longer the Sears ice cube can continue melting, it is all too obvious that with growing competition from online players, mostly Amazon, and with more brands choosing to sell through their own platforms, department stores including Sears, Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Kohl’s have been forced to rethink their strategies: what inventory they will carry and how they will get it to shoppers.
And, in the case of Sears, which stores to close.
Speaking of which, here is the full list of stores that Sears/Kmart just announced it will be liquidating and leaving to gather cobwebs, while local malls scramble unsuccessfully to fill the vacant boxes while lease cash flows trickle to a halt.