Too Little Too Late: The Downfall of Sears

In September 2016, we looked at the new Sears Canada logo and gave it a B- grade. And while that isn’t a fail, the brand is staring failure in the face right now.

With in-store, online, and overall brand revamps at every turn, Sears is trying desperately to survive after holding onto their previous model for at least a decade too long. The prevailing feeling from consumers and the industry though, is that this is too little, too late.

Related: Blade Grades: The New Sears Canada Logo

Like other Canadian retail brands before it (Danier Leather in 2016), Sears was once a popular retail outlet in the country. However, the current generation of shoppers have not continued the path that their parents and grandparents took as members of the brand community.

Many people feel that Sears’ failure was in their retail strategy, holding onto outdated practices, including mail order products, bulky catalogues, and trying to be an all-in-one department store in an age of niche retailers. Take a look around today and you won’t find many retail outlets selling washers and dryers, as well as jeans and shoes.

Recently, Sears opened a chic pop-up shop on Toronto’s trendy Queen Street West, and while some of the reviews have been favourable, industry experts predict that it won’t be enough to help change the direction of the failing brand. With 59 stores closing, nearly 3,000 employees losing their jobs, and the courts supervising the downscaling as part of a creditor protection plan, Sears is in the midst of a drastic downhill slide that may well end with the death of the brand.

So what happened? As mentioned earlier, the brand held onto an outdated strategy, seeming to stick with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy. However, times changed, shopping changed, new technology and options became available, and the brand, once a Canadian giant, became nothing more than a dusty reminder of where the current generation’s grandparents shopped for lawn mowers, tube socks, and winter coats.

The failure of Sears to look ahead, or even keep up with the industry from a retail perspective put them at a large disadvantage. Whether it was arrogance, ignorance, or something in between, the fact is that time passed Sears by, and their service offering didn’t evolve with the wants and needs of shoppers.

All brands can take a lesson from this case. No matter how long you’ve been in business, and no matter how much success you’ve had, you can not afford to sit back and let the world pass you by. All brands must recognize changes in their industry, and be prepared to make timely changes to stay ahead of the curve, or at least, keep up.

Sears didn’t, and right now it doesn’t look like a new logo, redesigned stores, or new merchandise will bring it back to where it was stood on the Canadian retail landscape.

Now, tell us what you think!

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Joshua Murray

Joshua Murray

Fuelled by ideas, opportunity and coffee, Joshua attacks the social media landscape every day with a purpose. His experience in retail, customer service and public relations have combined to give him a 360 degree view of social media for brands and he is committed to helping all of his clients leverage their voice in the social sphere.

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  • William Mason

    The prices stayed Pretty high when the cost of DVD players where focused around the low hundreds Sears was still keeping most of theirs in the thousands.