Sears plans to close its last store in Illinois, the state that has been home to the retailer’s headquarters since it was a mail-order catalog in the 19th century.
A spokesperson for Sears owner Transformco confirmed the Nov. 14 store closing and planned redevelopment of the property, inside Simon Property Group’s Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Illinois, a northern suburb of Chicago.
Liquidation and disposition firm SB360 includes the Schaumburg store in a list of nine Sears and Kmart closures the firm is working on with Transformco.
Sears has been in a perpetual state of diminishment for the past decade. The surprise to many retail observers is not that the storied name continues to close stores, but that it has any left open to close.
Waves of hundreds of store closures in the preceding decade have slowed to a steady drip of unannounced closures, reported on by local media and online observers who have made something of a sport out of tracking the closure of Transformco’s remaining stores.
The company no longer publicizes its store count. The last time it announced a round of store closures and provided a count to media was in late 2019. This summer, according to a Retail Dive count, the company listed on its website 40 Kmart stores and 39 Sears full-line stores. The store count reported on the company’s website — which only lists stores by state, making store counts a tedious exercise — trailed other online estimates at that time.
This week, CNBC, which reported earlier on the Schaumburg closure, counted 35 Sears locations, including the one at Woodfield Mall, and 22 Kmart stores.
Schaumburg’s store closure is probably more symbolic than material. Sears closed its final store in the city of Chicago, former home to the company when it occupied the massive office tower that once bore its name, in 2018, the year that Sears Holdings filed for bankruptcy. (Transformco, which bought the remaining Sears and Kmart stores out of bankruptcy, is currently located in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, as was Sears Holdings.)
The bloodletting hasn’t stopped since Sears’ bankruptcy. Under Transformco, owned by former Sears CEO Eddie Lampert — who oversaw the company’s long-running liquidation and helped steer (and profited from) sales of treasured assets, including property, subsidiaries, and owned brands — Sears has only gotten smaller. Some analysts suggest that the retailer’s footprint might not be large enough to support corporate overhead for the remaining stores.
As for the Schaumburg store, the Sears spokesperson said it was slated for redevelopment. “This is part of the company’s strategy to unlock the value of the real estate and pursue the highest and best use for the benefit of the local community,” the company said in a statement.
The company also touched on its future. “Transformco’s go-forward store strategy for Sears and Kmart is to operate a diversified portfolio consisting of a small number of larger, premier stores with a larger number of small-format stores — combined with its Shop Your Way rewards program, online marketplace and buy online, pick up in-store capabilities,” it said. “The company will continue to expand both Hometown Stores and Home & Life stores in cities and towns that previously had larger format stores.”