Shares in Sears Holdings Corp. fell 10% in trading Monday after the struggling retailer announced a sharp decline in comparable store sales for the second quarter to date.
Sears’ financials for the second quarter ended Aug. 2 are not due to be reported until Aug. 20 but, in a news release, it said sales at U.S. stores open at least a year declined 10.6% in the quarter-to-date period ended July 25, reflecting a 13.9% drop at Sears stores and a 6.9% fall at Kmart stores.
Comparable store sales, a key metric for retailers, have now fallen for more than 20 quarters as Sears tries to execute a turnaround strategy that includes shrinking operations, closing stores and exiting under-performing categories.
“Either the brilliant turnaround plan for Sears isn’t working as well as anticipated, or it’s just taking a lot longer than shareholders would expect,” Consumerist commented.
Excluding the impact of the consumer electronics business, a business Sears said it was “altering to meet the changing needs of our members,” total comparable store sales would have declined 9.1%, consisting of decreases of 5.4% and 12.5% at Kmart and Sears, respectively.
Reuters reported that comparable store sales at Sears are expected to continue to slide at nearly the same levels for the remainder of the year.
“[Sears] is flush with cash, but we expect that balance to be used to fund $1 billion plus of operating losses annually,” Evercore ISI analyst Greg Melich wrote in a note. “[Sears’] ‘shrink to win’ strategy is unlikely to result in positive cash flow and, in our view, a liquidity event is a matter of when not if.”
In its news release Monday, Sears said it expected total cash and revolver availability of approximately $3.0 billion at the end of the second quarter, consisting of approximately $1.8 billion in cash plus $1.2 billion under its domestic credit facility. The company has realized about $3 billion from the sale and lease back of 235 Sears and Kmart stores to a real estate investment trust it set up recently.