Sears could soon close several more of its remaining locations across the country according to a new report by Fox News, possibly spelling bad news for the retail chain.
The report described Sears as "on death watch," as competition with larger chains and online outlets threaten the company's economic survival. Stock value has reportedly plummeted by 90% in the last year, and is currently trading below $1.
Now, in order to course correct, Sears is reportedly considering closing as many as 11 more stores, adding to the many other empty locations it has left behind in recent years. The company is planning to decide on the closures before the holidays begin, which could mean massive winter lay-offs for its employees.
Six of the stores in danger are Sears locations, while the other five are Kmart, which is owned by the larger chain. All of them are split between New York and Virginia. Retail expert Burt Flickinger spoke to Fox about the closures, noting that the list includes one of the chain's most profitable locations in the country. This, he believes, points to the real bad news for the company.
“Bye, bye—finished,” he said candidly. “Bridgehampton Mall in the Hamptons -- the only discount department store out there --Target is taking over. That’s the beginning of the end of the curtain coming down for Sears -- that epitomizes everything.”
Still, Sears' CEO, Eddie Lampert, has a few more ideas for keeping the brand alive. Lampert just recently proposed a massive financial overhaul, cutting off the dead weight and scrambling to get above water. He reportedly wants to sell about $1.5 billion worth of real estate that the company holds, as well as $1.75 billion in assets. He also hopes to try and restructure about $1.1 billion of the company's debt, setting them back on the path to profitability.
Sears is just one of many national department store chains to struggle for survival in the new world of retail. As Amazon and online shopping in general has assumed a larger and larger place in the market, companies like Walmart have grown in size and scope to meet the challenge, while mid-size stores have struggled to keep up. Meanwhile, as Flickinger pointed out, shops like Target that project a bit more status are filling in the gaps.
While things may not look good for Sears, it is worth noting that Toys "R" Us was just saved from similar ruin at the last second, when wealthy lenders decided they would take a chance on reviving the brand some time in the future rather than parceling it out.