- Sears Holdings plans to close another 46 unprofitable stores this year, according to a press release this week. The plans include 13 Kmart stores and 33 Sears stores.
- The department store retailer said the move to close the stores was part of its ongoing efforts to "streamline Sears Holdings' operations, strengthen our capital position and focus on our best stores."
- The company plans to close the stores in November, and liquidations could begin by the end of August, Sears said. The retailer said it will pay severance to eligible employees, who can apply at nearby stores.
The decline of Sears' physical footprint over the past decade or so has been astonishing, far outpacing its department store peers, and it shows no sign of stopping.
In May, the company said it closed 108 stores (67 Kmarts and 41 Sears stores) in the first quarter of this year. It also said that month that it planned to close another 70 stores. (The next month saw the retailer slash 200 corporate jobs in another effort to cut costs.)
The constant rolling announcements from the retailer, as it closes stores by the dozens, can cloud the scale of Sears' rapid retreat from physical retail. Excluding Sears Canada, the retailer operated 3,530 stores at the beginning of 2009, according to regulatory filings. By the end of Q1 this year, Sears operated a quarter of that — 894. In less than 10 years, the retailer's store base has shrunk 75% as Sears closed most of its stores.
Driving this is a dire need to reduce the company's expenses as its sales base hollows out. The problem for Sears is that shrinking sales don't stop at the closed stores. In recent past quarters, Sears comparable sales have dropped by double digits, accounting for as much as a third of drops in top-line sales. In other words, the store closures can't keep up with its dwindling shopper base, and many customers who lose a nearby Sears or Kmart store are likely going elsewhere to shop.