Sears, once America's golden retailer, is a company in crisis.
The company has shuttered hundreds of stores in recent years. The embattled company has been selling some its most profitable stores to raise money.
And now, shares are tumbling after Sears lowered guidance for the quarter and announced that comparable sales in the fourth quarter have slid more than 7%.
Brian Sozzi, chief equities strategist at Belus Capital Advisors, took poignant photos inside of New Jersey and New York Sears locations in October.
"To understand why Sears is in a 'sell stores mode' one must look no further than the stores themselves, where the truth is to be found," Sozzi writes.
His photos show the sad reality of what Sears is today.
Sears' mannequins are outdated in comparison with competitors like Macy's, Lord & Taylor, and JCPenney, Sozzi says. "If you are living darn near paycheck to paycheck, does this presentation excite you about making a purchase with a couple saved up electronic dollars?"
Sozzi points out that this display is confusing. "Huh? A random football themed carpet with no promotion around it?" he says.
"What’s the deal in the back of this electronics department?" Sozzi asks. "Does Best Buy look like this? Or, how about the electronics sections at Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, and BJ’s Wholesale? Nope."
The shoe department isn't adequately stocked, with empty shelves.
"The team can’t find any way to repurpose abandoned portrait studios into something that drives traffic and sales?" Sozzi asks. "The consistently dark zones give a 'going out of business' feel to nearby departments that actually log some sales, which include appliances and baby."
Lights are out in the store. "This is not great for flattering a potential customer trying on merchandise," Sozzi writes.
"This is where the store underinvestment appears loud and ugly," Sozzi says.
"Attack of the female basics? Look at the lack of organization," Sozzi says.
Associates weren't on hand to help make purchases in this disorganized department, Sozzi says.
These displays are almost totally empty.
"Toys stacked on a shelf next to an escalator by the shoe department," Sozzi writes.
Again, Sears is disorganized. "Accessories are some of the only discretionary items selling in the mall with consistency these days," Sozzi writes. "Best of luck navigating this flea market experience."
The men's department is overwhelming. "Inventory excess…an entire department of it!" Sozzi says. "Who is in charge of planning and allocation?"
The beauty department also lacks innovation in comparison with competitors. "JCPenney has Sephora. Macy’s newly remodeled stores have an array of associates at the ready to assist in cosmetics, ditto Lord & Taylor," Sozzi says. "Ulta stores are popping up everywhere. Sears, well, yeah."
"Retail is detail? Not here," Sozzi writes.
The random clothing racks are confusing to customers and show a lack of organization.
This mat appears to be shabby and stained.
Sozzi left the store with an empty cart.
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