A consumer perspective, after the break...
We were at the new Target on Northshore during the holidays, and I picked up a small spice shaker thing (like pizza places use on their tables for crushed red pepper). When we were checking out, the cashier noticed it didn't have a price tag or a bar code. She offered to have someone go back and check, but I didn't want to wait plus I thought it was the last one. She asked if I remembered the price, and I didn't. She called over a manager. He looked at it and said "would you give $1.50 for it?" and I said sure. Problem solved.
A while back the Mrs. ordered some water filters for our refrigerator from Sears online. They were about $70 each. A month or so ago we installed one and flushed it according to directions. The water and ice tasted awful and had a strong chemical odor, and it didn't improve after a couple of days. So we replaced it with another one and it worked fine. The Mrs. took the defective filter to the local Sears store to return it and get a replacement. They wouldn't replace it or offer a refund or anything, even though they had one in stock. (It was $44.) In addition to the wasted trip, now we have to get a return authorization and pay to send it back to Sears for a refund/replacement, if they will even do it.
This is just one example of why Target is kicking Sears' butt. I'm not sure Sears is going to make it. Management, particularly their board chairman, is Sears' biggest problem.
Today, Target has a market cap of $39.4 billion, earnings of $3 billion on $71 billion in sales, nearly 15% in quarterly earnings growth and operating cash flow of $5.8 billion.
Sears Holdings (which includes Sears and K-Mart) has a market cap of $4.5 billion, a loss of $2.8 billion on $40 billion in sales, stalled earnings and operating cash flow of minus $248 million.
It's very sad. One of the first things we did after we got married and had relatively steady jobs was to get a Sears credit card. You could charge just about anything, and get your brakes fixed or get a new water heater in an emergency and take forever to pay it off. I'm guessing that brought them a lot of loyal customers, like us.
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