Sears was founded in 1892. At that time, it was known as Sears, Roebuck, and Co., after both its two founders. One of its earliest successes was in the mail order catalog business. Over time, it also built so many stores that it was the largest retailer in America in the late 1980s.
Sears became part of a larger retailer in 2005, when it was essentially merged with KMart. It began a downhill slide shortly thereafter and filed for bankruptcy in 2018. At that point, only 223 Sears locations were left. (When it comes to customer satisfaction, this is America’s worst retailer.)
What happened to Sears? One theory is that it did not move into the big box, discount retailer business. That means it was overwhelmed by Walmart, Target, and Costco. It let its stores get old because management refused to invest in upgrades. Perhaps the most important reason was that Sears was battered by the tremendous move to e-commerce led by Amazon, which is now the second-largest company in America based on revenue — just behind Walmart.
Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic closed many retail outlets temporarily. Retail companies needed strong balance sheets to make it through this storm. Sears did not have one. Sears had also lost the operating efficiencies that come with operating thousands of locations.
As the holidays start, the question has come up about whether Sears will completely disappear by early next year. In order to make it, holiday sales will have to be unusually brisk. (This retailer is hiring the most people for the holidays.)
Business media site Brostocks recently ran an analysis of Sears’ prospects. Its authors wrote that there were only 25 Sears stores still open as of November 30, and one was slated to be closed soon. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the list.