Sears, Roebuck and Co. hasn't outgrown the mall scene, but it's spending more time in other places. Beyond about 670 US mall-based stores in all 50 states, Sears operates 8 Sears Essentials/Grand stores in 8 states, as well as two dozen free-standing Sears Auto Centers offering tires, parts, accessories, and auto repair and maintenance. Sears' stores sell apparel, tools, and appliances (Kenmore), and provide home services (remodeling, appliance repairs) under the Sears Parts & Repair Services and A&E Factory brands. It also operates a growing online business. Sears was acquired by Kmart Holding Corp in 2005. The deal formed Sears Holdings, which owns both chains.
The company's freestanding off-the-mall format -- about 10 Sears Essentials/Grand stores -- was designed to compete directly with supercenters, such as Wal-Mart, by selling consumables, health and beauty aids, housewares, and toys, among other offerings, all under one very large roof. However, the number of Sears Essentials/Grand locations has declined from 75 in 2008 to 54 in early 2013 to 8 in 2014.
Online retail operations consist of sears.com and specialty catalogs. In 2014 Sears Holdings spun off its Lands' End clothing subsidiary to shareholders to form a separate, publicly-traded company.
Sears operates nearly 800 stores in 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands. Its sister company, Sears Canada, operates more than 115 full-line stores that are similar to the US stores but with a greater emphasis on apparel and other soft goods (as opposed to hardware).
Sales and Marketing
To capitalize on the power of social media to drive sales, Sears launched the SHOP YOUR WAY membership platform, a social shopping experience where members can earn points, receive additional benefits and interact/shop with each other through shopyourway.com. SHOP YOUR WAY also allows members to engage in cross-channel transactions, such as buy online/pick-up in store; buy in store/ship to home; and buy online, return to store.
In fiscal 2015 the retailer's sales declined 11% versus the prior year to $17 billion. Same-store sales continued their steady decline, falling 2%; the loss of Lands' End also contributed to the decline. The chain was once again unprofitable, posting an operating loss of $920 million. But that loss was a 2% improvement over the previous year as the company benefited from selling assets. Sears's US retail stores contribute about slightly more than half of parent Sears Holdings Corp's. total sales.
Sears' aging US stores have lost more than $6 billion in merchandise and services sales since 2007. Much of that has benefited rivals, including Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Macy's, Kohl's, and Best Buy, which have all gained market share at Sears's expense by investing in their retail operations, while Sears' stores have been starved of investment. The retailer has also been shuttering stores, reducing the number of full-line stores in operating by more than 100 locations over the past two years. The number of specialty stores has plunged from about 1,265 in fiscal 2011 to just 27 in fiscal 2015, due to the separation of Sears Hometown and Outlet businesses.