'Sad Day for American Retail': Sears Declares Bankruptcy

Company hopes to keep some stores open
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2018 3:10 AM CDT
After 132 Years, Sears Declares Bankruptcy
This March 1, 1959 photo shows a Sears building in downtown Houston.   (Houston Chronicle via AP, File)

A $134 million debt payment due Monday was the final straw for the business Richard Warren Sears started in 1886. Sears, an American institution for many years, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection early Monday, CNN reports. The company, which also owns Kmart, says it plans to remain in business through the holiday season, keeping profitable stores open, along with online businesses, but it's not clear whether a viable company will be able to emerge from the bankruptcy process, reports the AP. The filing follow years of bad news for the company, which had been struggling with huge debts, falling sales, and major losses. Its share price has gone from a high of around $141 in early 2007 to less than 50 cents today.

Sears, described by CNN as "both the Walmart and Amazon of its time," was once America's largest retailer, but struggled along with many others as shopping habits changed. "It’s a sad day for American retail," Craig Johnson of the Customer Growth Partners retail consulting firm tells the New York Times. "There are generations of people who grew up on Sears and now it’s not relevant. When you are in the retail business, it’s all about newness. But Sears stopped innovating." As part of the bankruptcy filing, Sears said it will be closing another 142 stores by the end of the year, on top of the 42 closures announced in August. Hedge fund manager Eddie Lampert, who promised years ago to bring back the glory days of Sears, has resigned as CEO but will remain as chairman. (More Sears stories.)

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