Shoppers search for deals in the electronics department at a North Little Rock, Ark., Sears store. Sears Holding Corp. said Tuesday after poor holiday sales it plans to close up to 120 Sears and Kmart stores. - AP

Sears to close up to 120 stores

NEW YORK — At a time when holiday season sales overall have turned out better than expected, Sears Holdings Corp. was an exception: It said Tuesday that it will close 100 to 120 Sears and Kmart stores after disappointing holiday sales.

Its stock, already having lost 37 percent of its value this year, tumbled 20 percent in early trading, making it the biggest percentage decliner in the S&P 500. One of its key suppliers, Whirlpool Corp., was down 5.6 percent.

The final list of stores to be closed hasn't yet been determined, Sears said. A representative of the Medford store said staff had received inquiries from customers but no further information was available.

In a change of strategy, the company said it no longer plans to keep "marginally performing" stores open while it works to improve their performance.

Sears, which has more than 4,000 full-line and specialty retail stores in the United States and Canada, said it plans to take as much as $2.4 billion of charges in the fourth quarter on asset write downs and other items.

The moves come as the Hoffman Estates, Ill., company said that comparable sales in the eight weeks through Dec. 25 fell 5.2 percent, including a 4.4 percent drop at the Kmart discount chain and a 6 percent decline at the Sears department-store chain. In contrast, the National Retail Federation earlier this month raised its industry holiday forecast to a 3.8 percent increase from a 2.8 percent gain.

Fourth-quarter adjusted profit before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization is now expected to be less than half the year-earlier period's $933 million, Sears said. That came after a widening third-quarter loss.

"The moves announced by Sears point to desperation," said Credit Suisse analyst Gary Balter, who rates the company's stock underperform.

Share This Story