Sears' news that it was considering spinning off Lands' End and possibly selling its auto centers indicates CEO Eddie Lampert has more interest in taking the company apart than resurrecting it. If that is the case, would consumers care?
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- News from Sears Holdings ( SHLD) on Tuesday that it was considering spinning off Lands' End and possibly selling its Sears Auto Centers suggests that CEO and hedge fund manager Eddie Lampert has more interest in taking the company apart than resurrecting it. If that is indeed the case, would consumers even care? From the decline in mall shopping to the ramp-up in e-commerce and social media influence, there are profound shifts in the way that consumers, particularly the younger generation, use retail concepts and where they buy certain items. Sears, J.C. Penney ( JCP) and other big box retailers have been under attack. "If Sears failed to exist, where would they go? They're already going there," said Mark Hall, president and founder of Firehouse, a Dallas-based independent advertising agency. "I think people have already found solutions," in the form of specialty stores like Best Buy ( BBY), Home Depot ( HD) and Kohl's ( KSS), for instance, he said. "Brands are living things. They have to stay active and vibrant. You don't have to reinvent, but boy, you sure have to stay relevant and that requires care and feeding," Hall added. Sears was either "too slow or too willing to believe that the equity they had in their heritage and ubiquity would see them through a very dynamic shift in the way that people shop and source stuff," he said. "They've been caught a little flat-footed." At one point, Sears' brands like Craftsman and Kenmore carried great strength but competitors have created just as good, if not better, alternatives. The lack of investment in Sears' stores over the years has further hurt the brand. Brian Sozzi, CEO and chief equity strategist at Belus Capital Advisors, shared recent pictures after visiting a Sears location, showing just how much the company has deteriorated. "They're selling their future to survive today, and why are they selling these assets off? It's because they need money to fund inventory next year, they need money to keep their vendors at bay from sticking it to them in terms of prices and cratering the stock which what we have seen in respects to J.C. Penney," Sozzi told TheStreet on Wednesday. "So they're not living for the future, they're living for today."