A troubling sign that Sears is close to death

A customers enters the Sears store in North Vancouver, British Columbia February 23, 2011. REUTERS/Andy Clark Thomson ReutersA customers enters the Sears store in North Vancouver, British Columbia

Sears used to rule American retail.

But the troubled retailer’s sales are continuing to decline, falling nearly 14% in the most recent quarter. Shares are at a multi-year low, and the brand is continuing to close stores.

The most troubling sign of all?

Sears isn’t trying to get better, Steven Azarbad, chief investment officer at Maglan Capital and an expert in distressed retail companies, told Business Insider.

“How many more quarters of negative sales can you handle as a business without being forced to close?” Azarbad asked. “They’re not pumping cash into turning this into a real retailer or business, and merchandise looks sparse for the most part.”

The company, which also includes K-Mart stores has lost more than $US6 billion since 2012.

“It’s hard to come up with a reason why Sears and K-Mart need to exist in today’s environment,” Azarbad said. “It’s hard to imagine them ever being a destination retailer.”

Sears’ and K-Mart’s collapse is “inevitable” and could happen by the year 2016, retail analyst and author Robin Lewis writes on his blog.

“These two retail brands are dead men walking,” Lewis writes.

Sears store closedWikimedia CommonsSears is closing hundreds of stores around the country

Lewis believes Sears Holdings’ inevitable decline started decades ago.

He says that executives spent too much time investing in side businesses and ignored the competition.

“This did not have to be fatal; however, it actually starved those resources (capital and management) from the retail business, leaving it unable to respond and adapt to the needs of the evolving consumer and marketplace,” Lewis writes.

To offset losses in the retail department, the company is planning to ramp up e-commerce and make the most of its extensive real-estate properties.

The company raised $US3 billion this year by spinning off some of its real estate properties.

But Azarbad said the company will likely burn through the cash quickly.

“The lack of investments into the business is troubling for the future,” he said.

We’ve reached out to Sears for comment and will update if we hear back.

NOW WATCH: The one reason Zara is dominating the fashion industry right now

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.