Sears files for Chapter 11 amid plunging sales, massive debt

Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today, buckling under its massive debt load and staggering losses.

The question now is whether a smaller version of the company that once dominated the American retail landscape can remain viable or whether the iconic brand will be forced out of business.

Sears, which started as a mail order catalog in the 1880s, has been on a slow march toward extinction as it lagged far behind its peers and incurred massive losses over the years.

The company has struggled with outdated stores and complaints about customer service. That's in contrast with chains like Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Macy's, which have been enjoying stronger sales as they benefit from a robust economy and efforts to make the shopping experience more inviting by investing heavily in remodeling and de-cluttering their stores.

Sears Holdings, which operates both Sears and Kmart stores, will close 142 unprofitable stores near the end of the year, with liquidation sales expected to begin shortly. That's in addition to the closure of 46 unprofitable stores that had already been announced.

 

Dawn Kamber