Among Sears' struggles is the fact that most women have ceased to think of it as a place to buy their clothes. Just 1% of shoppers say Sears is their favorite place for that, according to survey in January by Prosper Analytics & Insights.
According to Prosper, Sears has dropped as a preferred destination in other categories, too, even, slightly, in appliances last month. But in women’s clothing in particular, shopper preference share for Sears dropped 53% year over year. Last month, Sears ranked 15th, behind Goodwill.
Sears does remain, however, a favored destination for appliances, managing to outflank rivals Lowe’s Cos, Best Buy, and Home Depot.
Much is being made about Sears moving behind Goodwill as a preferred destination for women to find clothes. Although that’s not exactly good news for Sears, it may not be as shocking as it sounds, considering that young women are fond of shopping for second-hand goods. Indeed, consider the startups in the space—ThredUp, Poshmark, Tradesy, the RealReal, Vestiaire Collective, Vinted, Threadflip, Rebagg, Vaunte, Snobswap, Refashioner, and Material Wrld, among others (with eBay gobbling up similar startup Twice), and the lucrative funding deals they’re amassing.
And Goodwill itself is capitalizing on its longstanding position in the space, opening some 60 boutique-style stores nationwide in the past four years, featuring more upscale second-hand and vintage finds.
Still, as Pam Goodfellow, principal analyst/consumer insights director for Prosper Insights & Analytics, points out in her column at Forbes, Sears is failing to translate its popularity with older women to their daughters and granddaughters.
And it’s unclear that Sears is putting much effort into a remedy for that, risking falling farther behind as rivals Target, Penney, and Kohl’s work to beef up their offerings.
“Winning back the favor of women shoppers is going to be tough,” Goodfellow writes. “Retailers like Penney, Kohl’s, and even Target are investing heavily in improving their in-house brands. If Sears has to fight with Goodwill, that means it will have to heavily discount its clothes, which will be devastating to its margins.”