Shoppers are abandoning Sears -- here's where they are going instead

Sears was once the largest department store in the US.
But after years of sales declines, it’s closing hundreds of stores and selling off assets, and analysts are now predicting it could soon go bankrupt.

The company’s decline has left a multi-billion-dollar market up for grabs, as shoppers abandon its stores and spend their money elsewhere.

Most of these customers are migrating to off-price retailers like Home Goods, Marshalls, TJ Max, and Ross Stores, and to a lesser extent, JCPenney, according to a new analysis by Cowen & Company analyst Oliver Chen.

Home Goods has seen the biggest gains as a result of Sears’ decline over the past two years, followed by Marshalls and TJ Maxx, according to a Cowen survey.

These brands are all well positioned to continue gaining share of Sears’ customers, Chen wrote.

JCPenney also stands to gain market share since it has been aggressively expanding its home department by adding appliance showrooms and conducting home service tests, he said.

Walmart and Costco may also benefit from some share gains, given existing traffic momentum and attractive low prices, he said.

Chen also analysed the demographics of Sears and Kmart shoppers to find out which chains had the most similarities between them.

He found that the average household incomes of Sears and Kmart shoppers, at $US62,200 and $US56,500, respectively, most closely resemble those at Burlington ($US61,700) Ross Stores ($US63,300) and JCPenney ($US64,000).

The average Sears’ shopper, at about 43 years old, is most similar to JCPenney (also 43 years old) and Kohl’s (44 years old).

Overall, it appears that the booming off-price industry has the most to gain from Sears’ decline.

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