5 Reasons Sears Holdings is Having the Weirdest Week Ever

Weird is good, if you’re Weird Al or if you want to Keep Portland Weird. But if you’re embattled general merchant Sears Holdings, weird is not good.

Weird is also not good when weird comes in bunches, as it’s been for Sears Holdings this week.

In fact, Sears Holdings might be having the weirdest week ever. Here’s 5 reasons I’m confident enough to say that about Sears Holdings’ weird week:

Eddie Lampert’s Weird Kmart Blog Post

The rumors of Kmart’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, says Sears Holdings Chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert, who apparently has not set foot in a Kmart store for quite some time.

“I can tell you that there are no plans and there have never been any plans to close the Kmart format. In fact, we’ve been working hard to make Kmart a more fun, engaging place to shop, powered by our integrated retail innovations and Shop Your Way,” wrote Lampert in a random defensive blog post. “To report or suggest otherwise is irresponsible and is likely intended to do harm to our company to the benefit of those who seek to gain advantage from posting these inaccurate reports.”

Sears Partners With Uber… For a Weird Reason

The reaction to the Sears Holdings-Uber Technologies partnership was a jaw-dropper here at Multichannel Merchant’s World Headquarters… until we found out it had noting to do with a same-day delivery offering.

Fortune reported that Sears and Uber forged a partnership that will make its Shop Your Way rewards program “more valuable.” Riders who link their Uber account to Sears’ loyalty plan will receive up to $2 in loyalty points for every trip. It’s being piloted in Chicago and New York, and will soon roll out nationwide.

But no same-day-delivery announcement was involved, which is something that first comes to mind when you think of a merchant and a transportation technology firm getting together.

Bankruptcy Rumors Create a Weird Toy Story

Man, think of the out-of-stock opportunities here. Toymakers may be growing concerned about shipping products to Sears Holdings this holiday season, according to TheStreet.com.

According to BMO Capital Markets analyst Gerrick Johnson, the mood in the toy industry is upbeat after two strong years of growth and a good start to 2016. The only concerns in the toy industry are minor ones: whether to ship to a troubled Sears/Kmart organization and if Hanjin shipping containers will be unloaded on time, Johnson wrote in a note Monday.

Sears has “significant default risk” within the next 12 to 24 months, triggered by years of weak store traffic and high levels of debt, Fitch Ratings said in a report recently.

Hopefully Little Timmy isn’t combing through the Sears Catalog with hopes Santa will bring him new toys… Not that it’ll matter: Sears likely represents about 2% of the U.S. toy industry at retail.

The Weird Kenmore Product Launch

Sears Holdings brand Kenmore has launched an innovative personal shopper, Alfie, that researches and provides the best deals from retailers across the country. Alfie is an enormous time-saver because it can shop for anything from everyday items like paper towels, printer ink or groceries, to finding the perfect gift by simply saying “Alfie, give me some ideas for a birthday gift for dad.”

And it sells for only $49.99… And for $49.99 AND free shipping, you can also buy the all-new Amazon Echo Dot, which a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses Alexa to play music, control smart home devices, provide information, read the news, set alarms, controls lights, fans, switches, thermostats, garage doors, sprinklers, and more with compatible connected devices from WeMo, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Nest, ecobee, play music from Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn…

You get it: This isn’t like when Sears sold clones of the Atari 2600 and Intellivision back in the 80s. The Amazon Echo Dot does an awful lot more than Alfie… although users can maintain contact with Alfie from anywhere using the Alfie app on their smartphones to easily review options and confirm orders on-the-go.

Not impressed…

And a Not-As-Weird Suitor for Craftsman Sears Holdings

Sears Holdings announced plans in May to consider options for its Craftsman, Kenmore and DieHard brands as well as its Sears Home Services repair business. Sears Holdings’ sale of its Craftsman tool business has attracted bidders including Stanley Black & Decker, among others, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

The interest is good news for Sears Holdings’, as its Craftsman business has been valued at about $2 billion. But with past real estate asset sales and not brands being sold off, you have to wonder what what sort of customer value proposition Sears and Kmart stores will have left.

Tim Parry is Multichannel Merchant’s Managing Editor, and a Kmart shopper. 

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