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Sears gets smaller with Florida store closure



Dive Brief:

The ever-smaller Sears has closed another department store, this one in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Transformco, owner of the Sears and Kmart banners, also sold the store's underlying property to RK Centers, according to a press release.


Liquidation firm SB360, which has worked with Transformco on Sears and Kmart closures, included a Sears store in a Philadelphia suburb on a list of ongoing closures. The store is the last full-line Sears department store in Pennsylvania.


The list also includes two Kmarts, one in Montana and one in Florida.


Dive Insight:


After years of mass closures, the remaining footprints of both the Kmart and Sears banners are threadbare. Today there are just a handful of Kmarts and Sears department stores left after relentless liquidation before and after Sears Holdings filed for bankruptcy in 2018. 


Earlier this month, Coresight Research tallied just five Kmart stores following the announcement of the closing of its Hamilton, Montana, store. That is down from 2,100 locations at the time of its 2002 bankruptcy filing, as Coresight noted. Kmart stores numbered more than 1,000 until 2015. 


Coresight counted 29 announced closures for Kmart in 2021 and 46 Sears closures. Last year, Kmart and Sears, whose brands are both more than a century old, closed their last full-line stores in their respective birth states. Transformco also signaled plans to put its corporate headquarters up for sale. 


The closures track with the long-running collapse of Sears and Kmarts' sales base as the company's stores and technological prowess fell behind the industry. Problems for each brand began late in the 20th century and accelerated under the control of Eddie Lampert, who served as the last CEO of Sears Holdings and was majority owner of the company in the years leading up to bankruptcy.


Few retail observers voice any hope for either Sears or Kmart as retail brands today. Along with its few remaining full-line stores, Transformco also owns Sears Hometown, which Sears Holdings had spun off under Lampert. Sears sold off its Outlet banner to the parent of American Freight in 2019. Until recently, Transformco also operated the Sears Auto Center banner but has shut down its remaining locations. 


Transformco said its go-forward strategy for Sears and Kmart is to "operate a diversified portfolio consisting of a small number of larger, premier stores with a larger number of small format stores — combined with its Shop Your Way rewards program, online marketplace and buy online, pick up in store capabilities."


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