Sears Hopes Stores Become Essential Shopping Destinations
By George Anderson
Sears, Roebuck and Co. has decided what it wants to be when it grows up (even before it formally joins with Kmart). It wants to be Kmart…or Target…or Wal-Mart or at least its approximation of a mass merchandiser and supercenter operator.
Yesterday, the retailer announced the launch of its newest off-mall store format – Sears Essential. The new banner will fly over 56 stores Sears purchased from Kmart and Wal-Mart.
The first 25 are scheduled to open for business beginning in the spring. (To download a list of locations in a Microsoft Word document,
Sears’ chairman and chief executive, Alan Lacy, said in a released statement, “Sears Essentials will lead the way as we embark on the most aggressive growth initiative in company history.”
The stores, ranging in size from 80,500 to 100,000-square-feet, are about half the size of Sears’ Grand format. They combine the retailer’s appliance and power tool brands (Kenmore and Craftsman) with other “essential” items, such as apparel, electronics, home fashions, health and beauty care, food pantry items and other goods typically found in a mass merchandiser.
In a company press release, Sears said once its deal with Kmart is finalized it expects Essentials will offer the “best of both” companies by being able to meet “the everyday needs of our customers as Kmart does now, while offering more destination-focused purchase categories that Sears traditionally offers. Sears Essentials will be a one-stop shopping destination for home and family needs from everything from back-to-school, backyard living and birthdays to appliances, apparel and soft drinks.”
Not everyone is convinced that consumers are going to see Sears’ new format as an essential shopping destination.
Kim Picciola, a retail analyst at Morningstar in Chicago, told the Sun-Times. “We’ve yet to see Sears provide consumers with a compelling reason to shop at the off-mall locations. Buying a washer and dryer at the same time you’re picking up shampoo doesn’t quite make sense,” she said.
Fred Marx, a retail expert out of Farmington Hills, Mich., quoted by the Detroit Free Press asked, “Does the world need another place to buy potato chips? You have a number of people doing that and doing it well … are they going to do it better or cheaper?”
“You want to hope this is a good salvation for Kmart and Sears,” he said. “The question is can they sustain it at a time when so many other respected retailers like Wal-Mart, Target and Meijer already have their oars in the water? Sometimes these things look better on paper.”
Moderator’s Comment: Will Sears Essential be successful?
While we disagree with Fred Marx’s sentiments on potato chips – there can never be too many places to buy them – we do agree that sometimes things do look
better on paper than in real life. For all those working at Sears and Kmart, we hope we’re wrong. –
George Anderson – Moderator
- Sears Announces New Store Format – Sears
Essentials – Sears, Roebuck and Co./ PRNewswire via COMTEX
- Kmart, Sears pool products to create ‘Essentials’ store – Chicago Sun-Times
- Sears to switch some stores to new format – Detroit Free Press