There’s really no reason to sugar coat it, Sears is not doing well. The company overall is floundering, especially after trying to buy and reinvigorate Kmart in past years. On top of this, Sears is struggling to keep customers in its store and has been forced to sell off iconic brands. Across the country, Sears locations are closing at malls, as American consumer habits continue to shift.
Sears Bets on Nostalgia
The company desperately needs to get more customers, so they are betting big on nostalgia this year, with the announcement that it will bring back the famous Sears Wish Book – the celebrated holiday catalog offering holiday decorations, games, appliances, apparel and … or course … toys. The catalog dates back to 1933 and was a long-awaited treat for generations of American children, who gazed longingly at the book’s fun offerings. Sears discontinued the catalog back in 2011 in deference to online sales and standard newspaper sale ads. Cost-prohibitive, they called it. Now, though, the catalog may be a Hail Mary to get customers to come back to brick and mortar stores.
While anyone can view the Wish Book online, Sears says it will make a “limited edition” print copy available to the store’s “best customers.” While the 2017 Wish Book is much smaller than previous editions, clocking in at a trim 120 paged, Sears is hoping a return to its catalog root will spur customer interest … and maybe bring back some buried feelings of nostalgia for the way things used to be.
E-Commerce Drives Out Department Store Sales
Nostalgia may not be enough. Not nearly enough. E-commerce, especially online shopping at Amazon.com and other low-price big box stores has cut deeply into department store sales. Over the past decade, Sears has shuttered 60 percent of its stores in the United States. Sears stock continues to fall, more than 50 percent over the past year. And the problems are not limited to the United States. Sears Canada is suffering too, having to file bankruptcy before announcing plans to close all stores in that division. Desperate to bring back some of the magic that drew customers to Sears from Black Friday through Christmas Eve in the not too distant past, Sears is hoping the Wish Book will pique the interest of those who may be looking for an alternative to online buying.
Customer service will play a huge role in keeping customers coming through the door. Online shopping is convenient, and customers can price shop and compare reviews right from home. To keep customers coming in, Sears will need to learn some of the tricks that have made certain competitors successful. Then, maybe, they will get what they’re wishing for this holiday season.
Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR firm which works extensively in all aspects of influencer marketing.