The holiday shopping season didn't bode well for Sears Holdings Corp. which now plans to close between 100 and 120 Sears and Kmart stores. The closings mark the latest move for the retailer which has long struggled with falling sales and less-than-exciting stores.

"The parent company, Sears Holdings Corp., has grossly under invested in its stores," said New York-based retail analyst Brian Sozzi. "When you go into a Sears, it's a depressing shopping experience and that lack of investment shows up in Sears. It shows up in Kmart especially when you have Wal-Mart out there being so aggressive in price and Target doing what it does so well in terms of cheap chic apparel and food."

"At this point, if you're a consumer, what does Sears stand for?" said Sozzi. "In my opinion, Sears stands for nothing in the marketplace. When I think Wal-Mart, I think low-price leader. When I think Target, I think of great brands at a good price. When I want an electronic device or an appliance, I go to a Best Buy."

"Kmart's claim to fame has always been its blue light specials and layaway. So, this year Wal-Mart invested in their business and marketed themselves as the 'go-to' destination for layaway," said Sozzi. "So, they were able to get that message out there effectively and Kmart lost that stronghold."

"As for the future, three to five years from now, I don't know if Sears and Kmart will be in business," said Sozzi. "If you look at how this company has under invested in its business, it makes sense. When I see a retailer announce it's closing stores, I can't help but have flashbacks of Circuit City, Borders, Blockbuster and stores like that who started out by closing stores and now they are no longer in existence. So, closing stores isn't always the answer."

Courtesy Associated Press

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