What is the Sears exit strategy?

Plenty of commentary this week on RetailWire, following the announcement by Sears Holdings that it plans to close 100-120 stores in 2012 and suffered significant comp-sales decreases in the last quarter. (It’s also worth noting that Sears’s cash position is starting to decline.) My point of view:

I hope that the Sears in my neighborhood is on the list of store closings, so that the site (part of an otherwise thriving “lifestyle center”) can be re-purposed for a stronger mall anchor. The lack of any investment in this store, while everything around it was remodeled or rethought about five years ago, is emblematic of how Sears Holdings has mismanaged its best asset: its physical stores. How about replacing burned-out light bulbs, or a fresh coat of paint?

Everyone knows that Lou D’Ambrosio is not the real CEO of Sears Holdings, and that Ed Lampert calls the shots. So the “clarity of where we are taking the company,” as Mr. D’Ambrosio puts it, is as clear as mud. As long as the company’s cash position declines along with its comp sales, this becomes a more difficult problem to solve.

As Mr. Potter said to George Bailey, “You’re worth more dead than alive!” At some point Sears Holdings will throw in the towel and recognize that its most valuable assets are its brands and its real estate. Until then, we will all continue to witness the death throes of a $40 billion company.


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