Sears debuts handwritten signs in stores in an apparent effort to slash costs

Business InsiderSears stores are now featuring handwritten signs.
  • Sears stores have introduced handwritten pricing signs.
  • At one Sears location in Virginia, the signs are giving customers the impression that the store is closing and holding a liquidation sale, an employee at the store told Business Insider.
  • The signs are most likely part of an effort to slash printing costs, according to Neil Saunders, the managing director of GlobalData Retail, as the company works to cut expenses and improve profitability following years of steep sales declines.

Sears stores have introduced a new marketing strategy: handwritten pricing signs.

Business Insider found dozens of handwritten signs scattered throughout two stores in Virginia and one in New York. The signs in these stores were previously printed by machines.

At one Sears location in Virginia, the signs have been giving customers the impression that the store is closing and holding a liquidation sale, even though the store has no plans to close, according to an employee of the store. She said the signs frustrated employees because of the extra labelling time they required.

Sears did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the signs.

They are most likely part of an effort to slash printing costs, according to Neil Saunders, the managing director of the retail consulting firm GlobalData Retail, as the company works to cut expenses and improve profitability following years of steep sales declines.

“It is a bid to reduce costs – it’s far cheaper to hand-write signs than get them printed,” Saunders said in an email to Business Insider.

The signs could also allow Sears to clear out inventory at a faster pace.

“Management can make reductions on the fly rather than having to go through the process of getting tickets printed,” Saunders said. He added, however, that they made the stores look “shabby.”

Here’s what we found during recent store visits:


Handwritten signs had replaced most of the printed signs in the Virginia stores we visited.

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Some signs were messy and hard to read.

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Others were confusing, like this one that seemed to indicate that Sears shoppers would earn $US3 for buying this stroller.

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Some signs, like these, were pretty straightforward.

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For comparison, here’s what Sears’ machine-printed signs looked like last year at one of the same stores we visited.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

There didn’t seem to be a uniform approach to advertising the deals on the handwritten signs.

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While most of the signs advertised discounts, this one highlighted what it called an “every day great price.”

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The discounts also seemed somewhat random.

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A large majority of retail promotions advertise discounts in multiples of five, such as 10% off or 25% off.

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Sears’ signs advertised more specific discounts, like 63% off …

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… or 9% off …

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… or 19% off.

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One sign was missing its merchandise …

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… and while most of the signs were handwritten, there were still some printed signs throughout the stores.

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For example, these “manager specials” were printed.

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If you’re a Sears employee with a story to share, contact this reporter at [email protected]

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