Edward S. Lampert, billionaire and hedge fund manager, arrived at the Recession about six months late. The chairman of zombie retailer Sears (SHLD) "said the retailer is taking a conservative stance amid weak consumer spending, cutting its work force and paring budgets in response to an uncertain outlook."
Wall St. retail experts have watched large chains cut fat, and perhaps bone, as their say same-store sales turned against them last year. If anything, the market has gotten worse, and expense reductions have picked up speed. Lampert is making his moves to cut Sears costs much later than many competitors.
Lampert’s lack of acumen and foresight have cost him before. Sears shares are off over 20% in the last six months. Even Macy’s (M), retail also-ran extraordinaire, has done better. Wal-Mart’s (WMT) shares are up 30% for the same period.
Lampert faces two problems. The first is that the number of people shopping at Sears and K-Mart was low when the economy was good. Now, with a poor economy, the few people who do go to retailers are likely to pass on the opportunity to stop by one of his outfits.
Lampert is in a hole, and no one seems to see a way out.
Douglas A. McIntyre