Once upon a time, Sears (SHLD) was the go-to store for many Americans looking to buy an refrigerator or dishwasher and the retailer’s Kenmore line of appliances was a formidable industry presence. But in recent years, that dominance has faded.
Just over a decade ago, Sears sold 40% of all appliances in the U.S., compared to just 10% for the second-ranked appliance retailer, Lowes (LOW), and 4% for Home Depot (HD). But in the last twelve months, its share had fallen to just 29% of appliance sales, with Lowe’s jumping to 19% and Home Depot rising to 12%, the Wall Street Journal notes.
Appliances still account for 18.8% overall sales at Sears, but the chain is clearly stumbling. In its most recent quarter, lower appliance sales contributed to a decline in same-store sales.
So, how did Sears bungle its market lead in appliances? The Wall Street Journal identifies 5 reasons:
- Sears disrupted a key relationship with Whirlpool (WHR) that had underpinned the business for decades.
- Key management positions turned over frequently.
- Decaying stores that kept customers away hurt appliance departments as well.
- Executives focused on technological gimmicks like giving sales associates iPads that proved more frustrating than useful.
- Meanwhile, competitors were building up their appliance businesses.
Shares of Sears fell more than 1% in Friday morning trading.