Retail

Sears Makes A Comeback

Sears store
jeepersmedia / Flickr

Most people think Sears is gone. Force into bankruptcy. Inventory liquidated. All stores closed. However, this is not true. Sears lives on with both an e-commerce presence and a few stories. It has made an extremely modest comeback.

Sears was founded in 1892. Slightly less than a century later, it was the largest retailer in America. At the same time, its name was on the tallest skyscraper in Chicago.

The beginning of the end occurred in 2004. Sears merged with another large retailer, which was Kmart. The theory behind the combination was that similar companies could share costs and cut overhead. The reality never matched that. Burdened by debt, the merged company began to lose money in 2010. Revenue started to drop in double digits year over the previous year.

What killed Sears as a large retailer? Most blame Chairman Eddie Lampert who engineered the combination with Kmart and failed to upgrade stores, mainly to save money. He bought in several CEOs who contributed to the problem.

Another easy excuse is one used by many failed retailers. They were overwhelmed by the online prowess of Amazon, which was on its way to becoming the second-largest company in America. On the ground, bricks-and-mortar champion Walmart, America’s largest company, helped to finish off weaker rivals.

Sears continues to operate, but barely. It has a website and 11 open stores. It is reasonable to ask, why bother? The answer is that there is no apparent reason.

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