Is it time to close Kmart?

The chain is losing money, and sales are sliding. Is there any reason for it to stay in business?

By Kim Peterson Jan 24, 2013 6:28PM
Pedestrians pass a Kmart location in New York ( Frank Franklin II/AP Photo)Sears Holdings (SHLD) is trying to fix its operations and has made some progress along the way. But the company is being dragged down by Kmart, raising questions about whether that discount chain's time has come and gone.

Would Sears be better off closing Kmart? At the rate things are going, the answer is yes.

Kmart is stuck in a rut. Sales at its stores open at least a year fell 3.8% over the crucial holiday shopping season, The Wall Street Journal reports. Now it has just 0.6% of the nongrocery retail market. In the first nine months of its current fiscal year, the chain posted a $98 million operating loss and saw sales slide 5.5%.

We won't know for a while whether Kmart made a profit in 2012, but it lost money on an operating basis in 2011.

The Kmart stores that I've been to are remarkably similar. They're dirty. The shelves are cluttered, yet the customers are gone. Employees are nowhere to be found.

The Journal found a similar scene at a Kmart in Manhattan, where it reported abandoned carts full of merchandise, unevenly stacked towels and unfolded pajama sets lying about. "The tile floors looked as though they hadn't been mopped in some time, and clothes were piled in the corners of the dressing rooms," Dana Mattioli wrote.

Kmart stores in New Jersey took that a step further, selling expired infant formula and over-the-counter drugs. The chain will pay more than $300,000 in fines and be subject to inspections as a result.

Kmart used to fill an important role for budget-conscious shoppers. But those customers have many more places now that can meet their needs. Dollar stores sell groceries and household necessities. Wal-Mart (WMT) has a bigger selection than Kmart, often at lower prices.

In fact, the Journal cited data showing Kmart's prices were higher than Wal-Mart's and Target's (TGT) in five out of six items it checked at all stores.

Granted, that's a pretty small sample. But if that holds true and Kmart isn't necessarily cheaper than competitors, then what is Kmart's reason for existing?

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793Comments
Jan 25, 2013 2:35PM
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The employees are so rude anymore. I was in a K-Mart in Gonzales, LA and asked a clerk for information on an item. I was told 'I don't work in this department". The clerk just walked away instead of helping me or giving me an alternative person. I went back and on a subsequent visit, could not find any clerks. It was like something beamed them up Scotty!
Jan 25, 2013 2:34PM
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Sears the mother company started on its down hill slide in the early 1990s when they hired the CEO that insisted in changing everything that had been working for years. They closed the catalog stores. They lost the small town business. Big mistake! They where known for quality Craftsman, Kenmore. He decided that they should become what they referred to as a ( RAG STORE) , concentrate on clothing, shoes, and bedding, instead of the things that everyone went to Sears for. Tools, Appliances, Lawn care products, and such. They purchased things they had no business trying to get involved in, and a little at a time we have watched a long time respected, profitable company end up in the state  it is in today. Sears stores closed, with more to follow. K Mart stores closing with more to follow. They are like any other American company today interested in PROFIT for management and stock holders. They will end up a piece of history, just like Montgomery Wards  How sad!
Jan 25, 2013 2:33PM
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Seen a lot of comments about Target Stores gaining ground on Wally World and K-Marts aren't those 2 stores owned by Americans and didn't some people look into who owns the Target Empire. When I got into looking at stock buying, the Target Empire was showing that this was owned by a european empire out of France. Now its hard to tell who you want to shop at. They all want the all mighty american dollar which we all know is not worth a plug nickle. It is a major surprise, who owns what,ask the chinese they now own over 75% of america..Look out depression you are on your way to america..
Jan 25, 2013 2:32PM
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Here in Wichita...the store is dirty,the parking lot has poor care. It looks very uninviting from the street. The employees need to be taught to CLEAN UP. I do not feel comfortable shopping there without my husband with me.
Jan 25, 2013 2:32PM
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Ask a Kmart employee (or former employee) who has been with the company since the 90s how they were cheated out of the stock after it was valued as worthless (prior to that the company strongly encouraged employee investment in stock as a retirement option). I hate to see anyone lose their job, but it is time for Kmart to be a memory. 
Jan 25, 2013 2:32PM
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you know i always have to laugh at you people who think that wal-mart is EVIL or any other name you wanna give it..

 

WHOSE FAULT IS IT THAT WAL-MART is so BIIIIIGGG????

 

you the consumer....you are always looking for the best buy...and wal-mart gave it to you...so you shopped and shopped there foregoing your "normal" store....and what happened???? these "normal" stores closed because of it and now you bitch and complain that wal-mart is BAD, EVIL, etc...

 

LOOK IN THE MIRROR....YOU MADE IT THAT WAY...

 

just like everything else that you hate today, no prayer in school, stores open on Sunday, stores open on CHRISTMAS or THANKSGIVING (cutting into your "FAMILY" time!!)...if you would've stood up against these things, they wouldn't be the way they are today...

 

so stop blaming everything on something and LOOK IN THE MIRROR...YOU ARE TO BLAME FOR IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jan 25, 2013 2:30PM
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   I agree with Janet, but it is a sad thing.
Jan 25, 2013 2:27PM
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Omg gsfn hostess went bankrupt because of the union. Damn money grubbers always want more money, how much should you get paid for putting cream into a twinkie, its a minimum wage job, they couldn't charge $10.00 a box to sell them.
Stay on point this discussion is about kmart not hostess. Just because you have access to a computer doesn't mean you should state an opinion, wise up before you speak ****.


Jan 25, 2013 2:25PM
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I hate to see Kmart go. I try and shop there it is right around the corner from my work but more often than not they are out of the item I am looking for and the store is in terrible shape sorry to say. It just seems to get worse every year?
Jan 25, 2013 2:23PM
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Alot of the stores issues cleanliness and things not being replenished are employee issues from managment on down. We have to own our responsibilities as employees and care about our jobs to maintain one. I dont have one and cant seem to get one. I know that we all have to be more accountable.
Jan 25, 2013 2:23PM
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Maybe the people running the company should shop in their own stores, you can bet they don't!!!  They need a do over!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  If they close Wally World will take what little share K-Mart has.  Wal-Mart is having enough of a negative affect on other  business's with their so called lower prices and "less" selection.
Jan 25, 2013 2:23PM
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Our K Mart in Wooster, OH is great ,
Jan 25, 2013 2:23PM
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Kmart has had bad stores, lazy employees and crummy inventory for years.  In the kmart here in marysville washington, one of their employees told me that they didn't carry a pair of pants that I wanted (I was returning the ones I had bought with the sales receipt no less) and I went back to the back (ticked off that I had to do her job) and found the pants, then yelled at the top of my lungs when I got back there that I should have her pay for that day.   Sometimes they used to have pretty good items, but for the most part they are slowing circling the commode.  Flush them!
Jan 25, 2013 2:23PM
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I think the worst thing in my Kmart is the restroom.  I like Kmart.  I go there more then Wal-Mart.  Kmart has a better selection.  If anyone has noticed Wal-Mart does not have the selection they use to have, their shelves are always emptied and it just seems the clientele is getting worst and worst at least in my area.  I shopped at Kmart for the holidays and did not even go to Wal-Mart.  Maybe some of the stores that are not performing need to be shut but not all of them.  What are we going to have left.  Montgomery wards, Mervyns are already gone.  Let's Save Kmart.  You also have to remember all the stores including Wal-Mart are cutting their employees hours.  So that is the problem with the bad customer service.

Jan 25, 2013 2:22PM
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This coming from a former employee of 20yrs it is not Kmart who gave up on it's customer it is the higher ups and the owner of the company that gave up on it's customers. They outsourced the headquarter jobs to India and expect customer service to be good (NOT). They won't hire full time in the stores so no customer service there either and they wonder why their stores look the way they do and nobody is around to help the customers. Or keep the stores neat and organized and clean you have to be willing to hire staff for the stores first they are more worried about lining their big wigs pockets than what happens to the stores or the customers. Sorry is the truth.

 

 

Jan 25, 2013 2:21PM
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I was price comparison shopping for specific house hold items a few months back, went to Dollar General, Family Dollar, Target, Walmart, BigLots and finally Kmart.  It was a fun day for me, so I took the time to find the best price for the best product.  My products I was looking for were:  Iron & Ironing Board, dish racks, trash cans, storage bins, towels and kitchen towel and hot pad sets.  There were two stores that had the best prices and best choices, Target and Dollar General.   I surprised myself with this unofficial study.  I even found that Target is best over ToysRUs for quantity and price of toys.  I was a bit shocked by this information, but it has made my life a lot easier knowing that by shopping at Target and occasionally Dollar General, I truely am getting the best for my money on certain products.
Jan 25, 2013 2:19PM
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Kmart in McAllen texas is a well kept store. There is always someone to help you not mlike the tten walmart in the same area. We drive past several walmarts to buy. Walmart do not care about the little people. Check there prices they are different in stores just  few miles away. hey call it zone pricing.  Give the company a chance.

 

Jan 25, 2013 2:19PM
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My friend used to work for KMart (24 years) and they layed her off because of "budget" she GAVE 24 years OF HER LIFE!! I will NEVER SHOP THERE OR SEARS..THEY SUCK!
Jan 25, 2013 2:18PM
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Sad to read all these negative comments because Kmart was a store we went to first before looking at other stores; then we would return and buy what we were looking for. They also matched prices at the other stores. Sad, just sad to see where Kmart has desented to.
Jan 25, 2013 2:16PM
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Kmart's prices went up when Sear took them over. I don't know why Kmart stores are dirty and unorganized when Sears looks clean and organized. Maybe the company planned to fail Kmart so they can file a legitimate bankruptcy case.
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