The Hoffman estates, Ill.-based retailer says the outlet will sell products at 60 to 80% off its usual prices, carrying end-of-season, discontinued, and overstock apparel from both Sears and Kmart. Items will includes women's, men's, kids, shoes and accessories, as well as such home items as small kitchen appliances, bedding and bath items.
"Sears is experimenting with a clearance format that can be used in outlet malls around the country, if it's successful," Dick Seesel, a retail consultant based in Milwaukee, tells Marketing Daily, adding that it's "probably a good way for Sears to liquidate inventory from stores and Web sites, if 'normal' clearance strategies don't work."
The company says Sears Fashion Outlet is 30,000 square feet, with a grand opening celebration scheduled for May 15. Special promotions include $4 shirts, $7 shorts, and $6 toasters. Based in an outlet mall, new merchandise will arrive throughout the week, to encourage shoppers to check back.
Seesel says the move comes at a time when Sears, which has been struggling more than most retailers, "is engaged in selling off some of its real estate and figuring out ways to 'sublet' some of its less productive space around the country."
In February, its most recent quarterly results, Sears said fourth-quarter comparable-store sales declined 2.5%, including an increase at Kmart of 1.7% and a decline at Sears units of 6.1%.
Separately, the company lost a key marketing exec, with HP announcing last week that it had hired Richard Gerstein, Sears' president of marketing, as its new president of strategy and worldwide marketing for personal systems.