These 2 Beloved Department Stores Are 'Slowly, Quietly Dying'
Two department stores narrowly escaped closure in 2020, but their outlook for 2021 is looking grim. Once considered thriving big box staples, Sears and Kmart—both owned by the same parent company, Transformco—barely scraped by without filing for bankruptcy this year. Their "slow, quiet death," as CNN put it, comes after decades of declining sales as competitors Walmart, Home Depot, and Target thrived among their customer base. Read on to find out what the future holds for Sears and Kmart, and for more on beloved stores that are struggling, check out This Legendary Chain Is Closing Over 1,000 Stores by MarchExperts say that while Sears (founded in 1892) and Kmart (founded in 1899) marginally avoided bankruptcy, their survival "is not a sign of health." With a floundering commercial real estate market that has especially curtailed the value of big box stores, the two companies had no viable exit strategies for offloading their assets. "Everything is up for grabs. But of course, there is no market for department stores," Mark Cohen, the director of retail studies at Columbia University and a former Sears executive, told CNN. "They are, for all intent and purposes, done."CNBC explains that the stores' decline was a long time in the making. Sears and Kmart were purchased by hedge fund manager and CEO Eddie Lampert in 2004 and 2005 respectively, then merged to form a larger home goods conglomerate. Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, recently explained to CNBC that this was Lampert's chief mistake. "The solution to Sears' problems was to buy another retailer not doing well, and that was Kmart. Then they got a bigger bad business," he explained. "Sears wasn't investing or changing, and they started to suffer because of that."Instead of filing for bankruptcy, which the companies had already done in 2018, they are instead moving ahead with what experts are calling "slow motion liquidation." The stores have made little effort to grow sales, and experts say they expect both Kmart and Sears will progress to swifter closures once the commercial real estate market regains value.Already, they've whittled down their store counts dramatically, with just 122 brick and mortar locations left between them: 74 Sears locations and 48 Kmarts. As CNN reports, that's 60 fewer compared to May of 2020, when malls reopened after pandemic shutdowns, 400 fewer than when they came out of bankruptcy in 2019, and roughly 1,000 fewer than Q1 of 2018, three years ago. Read on for more stores that are barely staying afloat, and for more on store closures, check out This Popular Clothing Chain Just Announced It's Closing 100 More Stores.Read the original article on Best Life.