After years fighting decreases in sales at its once ubiquitous department stores, the company announced a chapter 11 bankruptcy to provide restructuring and financial relief for the organization. As part of the restructuring plan, Eddie Lampert will vacate his CEO post and become chairman.
What started as a catalog company in 1893changed the American landscape through its once innovative big-box store approach to retail. Sears grew hand in hand with the expansion of the post-war US middle class. As families moved out of the cities and into the suburbs, Sears was there, with its big-box stores offering furniture, kitchen appliances, and home and auto repairs. Innovative in its day, Sears offered a one-stop shop allowing patrons to browse goods ranging from the latest fashion trends to cleaning contraptions, giving suburban customers a retail experience without driving into the cities.
In recent years, Sears failed to respond effectively as buyers moved from the malls to their monitors. Declining foot traffic in malls, and the rise in popularity of online marketplaces like Amazon scuttled Sears’ sales and stock value. An acquisition by Kmart in 2004, which formed the Sears Holding Corporation, briefly re-energized the brand, but didn’t do enough for its long-term chances. In addition to 46 shop liquidations earlier this year, the company has announced that 142 Sears and Kmart stores will close their doors before the end of 2018.
The map below shows the locations of all these stores, according to court filings:
The closing of so many physical stores likely signals the end of the iconic department store, though in court proceedings, the company’s chief financial officer, Robert Riecker, issued cautionary hope: “Will Sears be relegated to the dustbin of history, and will 68,000 Americans lose their jobs, or will Sears enter the next chapter of its life as an iconic American company?”
Correction: A previous version of the map in this item labeled Sears stores as Kmart stores and vice versa.
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