Thursday, May 8, 2008

Our Pillars of Retail Strength

Wal-Mart, Costco Sales Gain as Shoppers Seek Bargains (Update9)

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, said sales at stores open at least a year climbed 3.2 percent, beating its forecast and sending the shares higher.

That's not even keeping up with inflation.

Sears Holdings Corp. and Macy's Inc., the two biggest U.S. department-store chains, don't report monthly same-store sales.

They once did. I wonder why they stopped.

June 19, 2006

The Fear at Sears

The bad part, equally Lampertesque: Same-store sales for the Sears brand chain fell 8.4%.

That sounds really bad. What did the management at Sears think though?

Lampert, whose ESL Investments owns 40% of Sears, isn't talking. But in a letter to shareholders recently he called same-store sales a "vastly overrated" measure of a retailer's health. In fact, he argues, it can make them sick.

That must be it. Reporting financial information tends to hurt a company's performance and make them sick. Best to keep quiet no doubt. I'm sure things improved a lot since 2006.

May 5, 2008

Lampert: Sears trying to build customer experience

The Hoffman Estates-based retailer is in the midst of a high-stakes restructuring aimed at reconnecting with customers and reinvigorate slumping same-store sales, which have fallen for the past eight consecutive quarters.

That doesn't make any sense, assuming Lampert was right. Surely the stock must be holding up well though (since same-store sales are "vastly overrated").

Macys and Sears: 1 Year Chart

March 1, 2008
Retailers putting lid on same-store sales data

When asked why Macy's and Sears abandoned their long-standing practice, economist Peter Morici said: "The reason those guys don't want to report same-store sales is because they're in a lot of trouble. They have a broken business model, and they would sorely wish analysts would pay less attention to what they're doing. They're trying to hide."

What's a CEO to do these days if he can't report financial information and he can't hide financial information? That's sure some conundrum!

Ironically, a Wall Street analyst created the same-store sales measure in the early 1970s to try to figure out what was really going on at a failing department store chain.

There's that 1970s word again. Funny how much it pops up these days.


Anonymous said...


Lampert was hailed as a whiz when he bought up Sears and Kmart. It was a real estate play AND a retail play.

The real estate part made some sense given the low, low interest rates at the time. The retail play never made any sense.

As retailers, Sears & Kmart are "dead as fried chicken" in my view. (Homage to Jules/Pulp Fiction). Seriously, it's like trying to revive Braniff or Eastern Airlines. Good luck with that.

Stagflationary Mark said...


I was thinking in terms of Woolworth's personally.


The growth and expansion of the company contributed to its downfall. The Woolworth company moved away from its five-and-dime roots and placed less emphasis on its department store chain as it focused on its specialty stores. But the company was unable to compete with other chains that had eroded its market share.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe the previous comments are supposed to be taken seriously. First off, Eddie Lampert was recognized as a whiz a decade before buying Kmart. Second of Lampert is still a whiz his return on Kmart and on Sears even with the recent decline beats the market hand over fist.

Either you guys are joking or you like to buy high and sell low. Not my style. Lampert and Sears will prove to be fantastic investments over the next 10 years. Over the next 10 minutes? who knows and who cares?

Stagflationary Mark said...


I can't remember the last time I shopped at Sears. What's going to pull me back? Eight consecutive quarters of same store sales declines implies I'm not alone.

Either you guys are joking or you like to buy high and sell low.

You don't seem to be thinking this through. There is a third option. I'm neither joking nor buying nor selling.

Lampert and Sears will prove to be fantastic investments over the next 10 years.

Oh, my bad. I didn't realize it was a sure thing. Had I known I would have put my entire nest egg in it.

Stagflationary Mark said...


Over the next 10 minutes? who knows and who cares?

Sears annual meeting theme: tough times now and ahead,SEARS050508.article

I'm fairly sure the ahead part isn't just 10 minutes into the future. Call it a hunch.

Lampert conceded that he has been very disappointed with Sears Holdings’ results and said “some of it was self-inflicted.” Sears’ shares dropped 40 percent last year, and its sales and earnings have stumbled for the past two years.

Pillar of strength.

Lampert pointed repeatedly to online retailers such as Amazon and Zappos that have realized sales gains despite the competitive retail environment, and said Sears must capture that kind of momentum in figuring out how consumers shop in a variety of formats.

Better figure it out soon. Once again I ask, what is Sears going to do to get me to shop there again?

Check Out Line: What does Eddie have to say about Sears?

But he also noted that closing stores has significant costs — about $12.4 million each on average — and that most of the Sears and Kmart stores probably have negative value.

Pillar of strength.

You do understand that we're discussing the economy here, right? For the sake of argument, let's assume Lampert is a genius. Would Lampert refer to Sears as a pillar of strength in a strong economy? Or would he be a tad more realistic?