Sears closing 100-120 stores after disappointing holiday sales

Sears, which recently made a push to sell more fitness equipment, said it will close 100 to 120 stores.

Sears Holding Corp. (Nasdaq:SHLD) announced Dec. 27, 2011, that it will close 100 to 120 of its Sears and Kmart locations due to poor holiday sales.

Officials reported unfinished fourth-quarter sales through Dec. 25, 2011, down 5.2 percent (down 4.4 percent at Kmart and down 6 percent at Sears) for the national retailer with about 4,000 storefronts in the United States and Canada.

A specific store-closing list is still to be released, so it remains to be seen whether reduction will include stores where Sears recently made a push to sell more specialty fitness products. (Click here to read our Oct. 26, 2011, SNEWS story “Sears looking for national specialty fitness role, commercial fitness sales.”)

Sears CEO Lou D’Ambrosio did give some hint to which stores were facing the chopping block.

“While our past practice has been to keep marginally performing stores open while we worked to improve their performance, we no longer believe that to be the appropriate action in this environment,” he said in a statement. “We intend to accentuate our focus and resources to our better performing stores with the goal of converting their customer experience into a world-class integrated retail experience.”

That “integrated retail experience” as previously outlined by Sears (Click here to read a Nov. 11, 2011, SNEWS recap of the company’s third quarter earnings), involves better integrating the in-store and online shopping experience for consumers to research, purchase and return items seamlessly between the two.

D’Ambrosio added the company also plans to “optimize the space allocation based on category performance in certain stores.” So if fitness sales happen to be performing well in some stores, the category could see an expansion at those locations. Of course, the opposite could result if the fitness category were underperforming in certain stores.

Sears officials said the company struggled the most this holiday season with sales of consumer electronics, appliances, apparel and big-ticket items. The company did not break out its fitness product sales.

Sears plans to release its full fourth-quarter 2011 results Feb. 23, 2012.

--Compiled by David Clucas


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