In the latest sign that the U.S. consumer is retreating, Sears (SHLD) reported a -$0.43 loss today on $11.1 billion in sales due to weak spending on household items and clothing. Gross margin fell from 28.2% to 27.3% on higher markdowns as the retail giant struggled to retain share against low-cost competitors. Consensus for EPS and sales were $0.18 and $11.2 billion respectively. Bloomberg:
Sales at stores open at least a year fell 8.6 per cent as shoppers besieged by soaring food and fuel prices and the worst housing market in more than 25 years went to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. So-called same-store sales have dropped every quarter since Chairman Edward Lampert combined Sears and Kmart in March 2005.
“Sears is in a very tough spot right now,” Scott Rothbort, president of Lakeview Asset Management LLC, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “A lot of their product lines right now are squarely in the middle of the economic slowdown.'”