By Jeff Brown

BOSTON (CBS) – It was once the number one retailer in the world. Now, WBZ business reporter Jeff Brown says many analysts think Sears is closer to the end.

In terms of revenue, Sears was bigger than anyone else. But then in the late 80’s and early 90’s the cracks began to show.

No coincidence according to Bentley’s Mike Tesler.

“And that corresponded exactly with the loss of market share and revenue per store of enclosed malls,” Tesler said.

Tesler is also a partner at Norwell’s retail concepts, after all he says Sears was a big source of revenue in the heyday of shopping malls.

“The direct relationship between Sears and all the suburban malls, particularly the secondary malls, they were so dependent on Sears and Sears so dependent on them and they both started declining at the same time,” Tesler said.

And then, Sears “tried” things:

“Bought Lands’ End and then subsequently sold Lands’ End and they tried to make Lands’ End a huge part of their operation and their brand and that failed,” Tesler said.

CEO Ed Lampert combined Sears and Kmart to create Sears Holdings.

But Lampert is not a retail guy; he’s a real estate guy.

“He came in to make money on the real estate, and at the end of the day, there’s still a good chance he will.”

The holiday season was terrible for them. Executives blame the warm weather, but it’s really about the fact that Sears is having trouble keeping up with the competitors even in their wheelhouse.

“Their hard goods, their hardware and their appliances but even there, they’ve lost market share.”

And someone else is picking up the pieces:

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Jeff Brown reports

“It’s not like these things are going and there aren’t interesting things coming,” Tesler said. “While they’ve been declining, Target’s been growing and Target wasn’t there 35 years ago.”

So, will it turn around?

“It seems like it’s just too late,” Tesler said. “Retailing has changed so dramatically and they haven’t changed at all fast enough. I think it’s terminal.”

A potentially sad ending for a shopping icon.


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