The End of Retail: Sears Loses $279 Million

A blog about business and economics.
May 23 2013 5:28 PM

The End of Retail: Sears Loses $279 Million

BRAINTREE, MA - NOVEMBER 23: Shoppers wait in a check out line at a Kmart store during the Black Friday sales on November 23, 2012 in Braintree, Massachusetts.

Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images

Another day, another retailer posts a bad earnings result even as the economy improves. Today's victim is Sears Holdings Corp—i.e. both Sears and K-Mart—which has suffered declining sales for years. This year "sales at stores open at least a year fell 3.6 percent" and even more striking they lost $279 million in the quarter. A year ago Sears turned a $189 million profit.

Each company has its own particular problems, but as I noted even mighty Walmart is feeling the pain. The fact is that operating big stores full of physical objects that customers can buy just isn't the kind of sound business model that it used to be. Retailers are going to have to offer a compelling reason to shop in physical stores. That could be because your goods are perishable (Whole Foods) or because your shop is a kind of advertising platform and service hub (Apple). Or maybe you're a restaurant or a health care clinic. Or maybe there's just something really fun and awesome about your shopping experience that a large swathe of the population is really into. There are lots of options out there, but also lots of companies stuck in a basically dying model.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.



The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers


Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.


The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
Lexicon Valley
Oct. 23 2014 10:30 AM Which Came First, the Word "Chicken" or the Word "Egg"?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 8:51 AM The Male-Dominated Culture of Business in Tech Is Not Great for Women
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 9:00 AM Exclusive Premiere: Key & Peele Imagines the Dark Side of the Make-A-Wish Program
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.