Sales declines at Sears U.S., Kmart worsen during holidays

NEW YORK Thu Jan 9, 2014 5:15pm EST

The sign outside the Kmart store is seen in Broomfield, Colorado November 19, 2009.REUTERS/Rick Wilking

The sign outside the Kmart store is seen in Broomfield, Colorado November 19, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sears Holdings Corp's (SHLD.O) sales are slipping faster and faster.

The troubled retailer on Thursday reported declines in comparable-store sales at its Kmart and U.S. namesake chain for the crucial holiday season that were even sharper than for the third quarter.

At its U.S. Sears stores, sales at stores open at least one year, an industry benchmark known as comparable sales, were down 9.2 percent in the nine weeks that ended January 6 and down 5.7 percent at Kmart.

Data firm ShopperTrak said this week that U.S. retail sales had risen 2.7 percent industrywide during the holidays.

Sears shares were down 13.3 percent at $36.90 in after-hours trading.

Sales at the company have been falling since 2005, when hedge fund manager Edward Lampert merged the two U.S. chains in an $11 billion deal.

"The results that we posted are not nearly what we want them to be," Lampert, Sears Holdings' chief executive and top shareholder, wrote in a blog post.

Retailers faced the most promotional holiday season since the recession, trying to outdo one another with deep discounts to lure shoppers. As a result, a number of retailers slashed their profit forecasts on Thursday.

Sears said it expects to post a loss of between $11.85 and $12.88 per share for the fiscal year ending February 1. That includes a loss of $2.35 to $3.39 per share for the holiday quarter.

(Reporting by Phil Wahba in New York; Editing by Andre Grenon and Leslie Adler)

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Comments (3)
Tbone42 wrote:
Lemme see now; you close a hundred or more stores nationwide and it comes as a complete surprise that sales are down? Harrumph!

Jan 09, 2014 5:29pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This guy Lampert clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing.

I worked for them briefly, I left after completing their sales training, which basically trains their employees to push hard to get customers to sign up for store credit cards with much higher profit margins and to push products and services with high profit margins (such as extended warranties).

In other words, their salespeople are taught to forget what the customer wants or needs, it’s all about Sears bottom line. Employees who are successful with this are handsomely rewarded. Those who aren’t make minimum wage.

Jan 09, 2014 5:55pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Daleville wrote:
Lampert needs to go now.

He is the main problem at Sears. Why do these hedge fund guys think they can run a retail business? They seem to be so arrogant and so sure that they are always right. I have news for them – they aren’t.

Our local Sears is not what it used to be but I still bought my new electric dryer there.

Jan 09, 2014 6:18pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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