July 29, 2012
Ronald Friedman, Co-Leader, Retail/Consumer Products Industry Group, Quoted in the Los Angeles Times Article "Sears' Struggle to Update and Draw Shoppers Shows in Santa Monica"
By Shan Li
After merging with Kmart and becoming Sears Holdings Corp., the Sears brand has continued to struggle as it redefines itself for a new century and fights to turn around more than four years of falling sales. Nowhere are the many challenges more apparent than at the Santa Monica Sears, where remodeling efforts, store upgrades and technology improvements are afoot behind the aging facade.
A throwback to the post-World War II era, the Santa Monica Sears opened in 1947 when this ocean-side city of 89,000 had more of a blue-collar tinge, with Douglas Aircraft Co. employing thousands of assembly line laborers at what is now the municipal airport.
The problems plaguing Sears reflect not only an evolution in how Americans want to shop but also shifting demographics. In the 1970s, when malls were thriving, more than 50% of American households had children; now that number is closer to 30%, according to U.S. census data.
"Sears today is old, decrepit and run-down," said Ron Friedman, a retail expert at consulting and accounting firm Marcum. He said Sears is not investing enough money to upgrade the look of its stores to attract shoppers long turned off by its scruffy appearance. "Customers just don't want to come in and buy."