NEW YORK >> Sears continued to struggle in its second quarter with declining sales amid heightened competition from the likes of Walmart to Amazon. It now says it will close even more stores.
The Hoffman Estates, Ill., retailer, which operates Sears and Kmart stores, has been trying to cut costs by closing stores, including 180 this year, and already had plans to cut another 150 stores. It now plans to shutter an additional 28 Kmart stores.
“The retail environment remained challenging,” Sears Holdings Corp. said in a statement.
(Sears’ latest closure list doesn’t include any additional Kmarts in Hawaii. In July, Sears announced it would close the Kmart in Kapolei in October, leaving stores in Kailua-Kona and Lihue as the lone remaining Kmarts in Hawaii).
The company reported Thursday that its second-quarter loss narrowed to $251 million, or $2.34 a share. Losses, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to $1.16 per share.
Revenue fell 23 percent to $4.37 billion in the period. Sales at stores open at least a year, a key measure of a retailer’s health, dropped 11.5 percent. At Kmart the measure dropped 9.4 percent, while at Sears stores that figure was down 13.2 percent.
Chairman and CEO Edward Lampert, whose hedge fund has forwarded millions in funding to keep Sears afloat, has long pledged to turn the company’s fortunes around and that the retailer would find ways to capitalize on its best-known brands like Kenmore appliances and DieHard car batteries, as well as its vast holdings of land.
Last month it began selling its appliances on Amazon.com, including Kenmore smart appliances that can be synced with Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa. The announcement that day sent shares of Sears soaring.
But Sears is battling challenges on all fronts. Like many department stores, Sears is feeling pain as shoppers change their preferences and behavior. They’re spending more online and on experiences like spas, and less on clothing. But analysts say Sears has much to blame for its woes. While Sears has ramped up online services, it’s having a hard time disguising its age. Stores are in need of a major redo. And old rivals have made it tougher as they aim to compete with online leader Amazon.com, which is pushing ahead with innovative services as part of its juggernaut Amazon Prime membership.