New “softer side” strategies at Sears

Sorry, but I’m not buying the spin…Sears continues to drift into irrelevance, especially on the softlines side of its business, making it that much more difficult to attract younger or more fashion-forward customers. Does anyone seriously believe (for example) that the French Connection customer is going to walk into a Sears store in the first place? Does Sears intend to spend the capital investment needed to make its long-neglected stores more appealing to the fashion shopper in general? There is little evidence that Sears plans to correct some of the “fundamentals” before moving into a fast-fashion experiment.

As to the Forever 21 test, this aligns with some of the other stories that BrainTrust panelists have discussed during the past year: It feels more like a way to exploit (and “sublet”) unproductive real estate rather than an organic merchandising strategy. This does not exactly parallel the Mango initiative inside JCPenney, but rather appears to be a free-standing “store within the store.” Forever 21 has something to gain by picking up new sites, but not by aligning their merchandise content with Sears.

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