retail news in context, analysis with attitude

...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

• There were reports yesterday, from Reuters and other news services, that Sears Holdings plans to close down another 100 stores and lay off more than 5,000 employees, in addition to the 130 store closings and resultant employee layoffs that already had been announced.

The company has been on a cost-cutting tear, as it lost close to a billion dollars during its fiscal first half of the year.

However, shortly thereafter, Sears said the reports were inaccurate - though it also said that focusing on productive stores is a key part of its survival strategy, and would not comment on how many additional closures might be planned. The company said this information will be provided when quarterly results are announced next month.

It's probably 78 stores being closed and 3,547 people being laid off. But that's enough for a denial. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

• In Toronto, the Globe and Mail reports that Target Canada Co. "is betting on its top stores to become a model for the struggling discounter in its recovery efforts.

"Mark Schindele, president of the Canadian chain since May, is overseeing the launch of an array of practices from speeding up and sharpening store inventory stocking from trailer trucks (in Target lingo, 'coming clean on trailers') to creating a service culture among staff to go the extra mile and convince shoppers to buy (internally dubbed 'the vibe')."

According to the story, "The chain is quietly experimenting with ordering more merchandise than its systems think it needs for five of its best performing stores while 'over-investing' in strong selling inventory at its top 20 outlets."

The company is trying to recover from what is generally considered to be a disastrous entry into Canada, marked by having having the wrong merchandise, not enough merchandise, and poorly priced merchandise.

Yeah, but other than that, things went great…
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