Sears Holdings Tries to out-JCP JCP, but Fails

Jan 10, 2014 9:36 AM  By

Remember that epic November tweet-off between J.C. Penney and Kmart? Well now their parent companies are fighting to see who can produce the more obscure holiday sales results press release.

JCP wins this round of the Retalympics, but Sears Holdings gave JCP a run for its moneytwice

Sears Holdings yesterday provided an update on its quarter-to-date performance and financial position. And then for two long paragraphs, we learned how awesome its “Shop Your Way” rewards program performed.

Once you see that “As previously stated, we are transitioning from a business that has historically focused on running a store network into a business that provides and delivers value by serving its members in the manner most convenient for them: whether in store, in home or through digital devices. We are driving this transformation by investing in capabilities to enable members access to the broadest possible assortment of products and services, enhancing our membership benefits associated with SYW, developing digital and social relationships with our members, using data and analytics to make targeted offers and decisions delivered in real time and expanding our reach through Marketplace and delivery options,” and learn that “We believe that we are making progress in this transformation, as we are seeing continued increases in our SYW member engagement metrics with 69% of our sales in the nine-week period ended January 4, 2014 derived from members as compared to 58% last year. We are intentionally transitioning business models in a thoughtful manner and are making the investments which we believe will demonstrate the value of SYW to our members. Throughout this transition, we have continued with traditional promotional programs and marketing expenditures while investing in our member-centric model, which has impacted our margin and expenses. For the nine-week period ended January 4, 2014 we spent $69 million more on SYW points expense compared to the same period last year…”

You discover that Sears Holdings’ sales plummeted (or, technically, since it’s an earnings release, WILL plummet) in the fourth quarter and in 2013.

Which is something JCP did not include in its guidance. Nothing at all about dollar figures was mentioned in its release, which is what made it the Retailympics winner (so far).

By the way, for the quarter, Sears Holdings expects to be down 7.4%. That includes a 9.2% drop for Sears Domestic and a 5/7% sales decrease for Kmart. For the year? Sears Holdings is down 3.9%, Kmart is down 3.7% and Sears Domestic is down 4.2%.

Sears Canada came in a distant third in the Retailympics. Its release? Just a disclaimer to defend its results from the rest of Sears Holdings.