Sears’ total collapse ‘is a matter of when not if’

The end is near for Sears, according to one analyst.

Sears is no longer “viable as a retailer in its current form,” Evercore ISI analysts wrote in a recent note, Bloomberg reports.

“Sears margins were worse than we thought as a tough retail climate accelerated margin decline,” the analysts wrote. “A liquidity event is a matter of when not if.”

The department store chain has been bleeding cash for years. It has been closing hundreds of stores and selling off real estate to stay afloat.

Sears’ same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, have fallen for the past five years.

In the most recent quarter, Sears said its same-store sales dropped 6.9%. They fell 7.2% at Kmart, which Sears owns.
In the same time period, Sears said it lost $50 million to $100 million on an adjusted basis before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

The company’s shares have lost 60% of their value in the last year.

Analysts say Sears’ sales are declining because it’s losing some of its most loyal customers.

The department store has traditionally attracted female shoppers aged 55 and older, but that demographic is now choosing to shop elsewhere, according to a recent study by Prosper Insights & Analytics.

In fact, most women would now rather shop at Goodwill than at Sears, according to the survey.

Sears store closed
Sears is closing hundreds of stores around the country Wikimedia Commons

“Quite literally, Sears shoppers are a dying breed,” Pam Goodfellow, an analyst for Prosper Insights & Analytics, writes in Forbes.

In women’s clothing alone, the share of shoppers who prefer Sears has dropped 53% from January 2006 to January 2016, the survey found.

Sears is also losing considerable ground in categories like sporting goods, linens and bedding, home improvement, and electronics.

It’s a “dire” situation for Sears, according to Goodfellow. As older shoppers leave Sears, the company is failing to attract new, younger customers, she writes.

In response to the report by Evercore ISI, Sears told Bloomberg: “Sears Holdings has the financial flexibility to continue to fund our transformation.”

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