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Sears still can't stop sales skid


Sears Holdings Corp. is doing a much better job at cutting costs than at stopping its sales decline.

The retailer’s total revenue in the third quarter, ended Oct. 31, fell 20% to $5.75 billion, from $7.21 billion in the year-ago period, amid store closings and divestitures and a drop in apparel and consumer electronics sales. (Sears had 1,687 stores at the end of the quarter, down from 2,249 a year earlier.)

Total same-store sales were down 8.6%. Kmart same-store sales declined 7.5%. Sears domestic same-store sales fell 9.6%.

Sears narrowed its loss to $454 million, or $4.26 a share, compared with a loss of $548 million, or $5.15, a year earlier, helped by a reduction in advertising and payroll costs. Excluding items such as store closures and amortization, the adjusted loss widened to $2.86 a share from $2.71.

Sears said it continues to remain focused on its Shop Your Way loyalty program. Sales to people enrolled in program made up 75% of eligible sales for the quarter.

In a statement, chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert said he remains optimistic about returning to profitability by “concentrating on our best stores, rewarding our best members and pursuing our best categories through innovative solutions to product and service offerings.”

“Through deliberate strategic actions, notably with respect to our promotional design and marketing spend, we have made meaningful progress in our transformation and reported a fifth consecutive quarter of improved year-over-year results,” he said. “As expected, the results of these actions have led to comparable store sales declines despite an increase in profitability. At the same time, we recognize a lot of work remains and we have brought in a number of experienced leaders to drive our business forward with a plan to win as a member-centric integrated retailer.”

Heading into the fourth quarter, Lampert said Sears is focused on product offerings and promotions to enhance member engagement through the holiday season.

Sears CFO Rob Schriesheim said the company plans to continue taking “significant actions” to alter its capital structure to position it for profitability.

In July, Sears spun off 235 properties into a real-estate investment trust it created calledSeritage Growth Properties, and it also created joint ventures that hold additional properties with three mall owners.

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