There is a common trap that big businesses — especially retailers — fall into when it comes time to cut costs. Sales decline and fewer people come into the store, so the company starts chipping away at expenses that were high when the store was in favor. In the case of once-great retailer Sears, its decision to neglect the upkeep of its retail locations may be what’s keeping it from catching up to the younger big box stores.
The L.A. Times reports that Sears only spends an estimated $2-3 per square foot each year on maintenance and upkeep. Compare that to the $6-8/square foot estimates for competitors Target and Walmart.
“Sears today is old, decrepit and run-down,” one retail expert tells the Times. “Customers just don’t want to come in and buy.”
The paper looked at Sears’ Santa Monica location, one of the few of the retailer’s stores to be declared a national landmark, and one in which the company has claimed to invest oodles of money during the past two years to improve.
“There were no signs that I could see pointing out the appliance section in the basement,” complained one person who had tried to do a bit of shopping at the store. “You’re left wandering around lost and confused. And no one comes to help.”
“It basically looks like the same store from way back when with newer clothes and appliances,” said another shopper. “They haven’t done a lot to update it. I’d rather shop at other stores now.”
But a rep for the company tells the Times, “We are investing in the aesthetics, which is paint and signage… Whenever you have thousands of stores, you will have some stores that are really great, some great and some stores that need attention.”