Closing down sale: is this the end of Sears? | RetailTechPodcast

Closing down sale: is this the end of Sears?

There can be few bleaker testaments to the beleaguered condition of US retail than the Sears department store in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Last week, Sears narrowly avoided a deadline for liquidation after a New York bankruptcy judge permitted Eddie Lampert, whose hedge fund ranks as Sears' biggest shareholder and creditor, more time to improve his offer for the company's assets, another step in his decade-long, seemingly quixotic, effort to keep the ailing retailer afloat. On Monday the company's fate will be decided at an auction when Lampert's now $5bn bid will go up against liquidators who are planning to shut the retailer down. The grave condition of US retailers was underscored again last week when, despite a booming economy and record consumer confidence, major US retailers recorded disappointing results from the holiday period. The pessimism on Wall Street spread quickly from department stores to virtually all retail sectors as investors discounted retail's ability to grasp the changes coming as consumers shift to online shopping. Through the 60s,70s and 80s, customers went to Sears for appliances and workwear but they lost touch with that customer, says Hitha Herzog, retail analyst at H Squared Research, who describes Sears's problems as "a near-perfect storm as to what can go wrong with a retailer". Even before the e-commerce boom, US retail was considered massively overbuilt - a result of the big-box era that saw huge stores built across the country in almost every category of retailing. Read more