Sears stock rises as stores nix layaway fees
The struggling retailer pleases shoppers and shareholders alike.
By Alyssa Oursler
Sears Holdings (SHLD) has been the subject of some not-so-pretty headlines lately, but the company's moves this week have customers and investors alike smiling.
Most recently, it announced that its Kmart stores will no longer charge layaway fees year-round.
The move comes as several other retailers have also adjusted their fee rates. Toys "R" Us, which is owned by Vornado Realty Trust (VNO), for example, dropped the fees for its holiday program earlier this week, while Wal-Mart (WMT) reduced fees and expanded layaway options for the holiday season as well. And Best Buy (BBY) and TJ Maxx (TJX) are also pushing layaway as an appealing shopping option.
The layaway wars, as they have been called, are just the beginning of the battle for Christmas customers and a continuation of what has been a battle for penny-pinching shoppers.
On top of the good consumer news, investors also cheered as the company's chairman Eddie Lampert bought back 2.39 million shares Thursday. SHLD saw double-digit gains, as investors saw the purchase as further proof Lampert might be planning to take the company private.
There have been other moves supporting that possibility recently, such as the company's announcement that it will spin-off its Hometown and Outlet stores and discussion that it may sell its Lands End brand, which has accounted for half of the struggling store's profits.
Last quarter, Sear posted a loss of $132 million dollars, while sales fell more than 6% year-over-year and missed expectations. Still, the loss was less-than-expected and at least sent shares in the right direction.
Just a few weeks after the jump, though, the company was removed from the S&P 500 and shares moved downward pretty steadily since then.
Until now, that is. The company's latest announcements gave SHLD a boost, bringing its three-month gains to just under 14%.
Those who don't really care about the company's stock going up can still at least be happy its stores' shopping fees are going down -- and just in time for the holidays.
As of this writing, Alyssa Oursler did not own a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
More from InvestorPlace
zoomanto -- What a wonderful idea. If they'd lay it away for 15 years, I could pick it up and have a Show-Room new 15 year old car!
I going down to a dealer to discuss this and start putting away, let's see, about $3,000 a year. Wait. I don't have $3,000 to put away. Better make that lay-away 30 years. Yeah.
What is up with layaways? People, if you can't afford to pay for it, don't buy it. Simple.
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