Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Four Retailers That Could Use Some Holiday Cheer

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Four Retailers That Could Use Some Holiday Cheer

Article excerpt

NEW YORK * The holiday shopping season is always a make-or-break period for struggling retailers.

But this year, the fight to grab shoppers has intensified, making it difficult for stores to use the season that accounts for about 20 percent of the retail industry's annual sales to bounce back.

"If you're a retailer on the edge, it's harder to maintain your viability and return to profitability because of the intense promotional environment," said Ken Perkins, president of RetailMetrics LLC, a retail research firm.

Perkins expects fourth-quarter earnings for the 123 retailers he tracks will rise 7.7 percent, down from a projected 16 percent increase in June.

Here are four retailers with years of sales declines that could use a good holiday season:

SEARS HOLDINGS CORP.

The problems * Billionaire hedge fund manager Edward Lampert, now chairman and CEO, combined Kmart and Sears in 2005, but that merger hasn't been successful, and the company's financial results keep worsening.

The fix * Sears is shifting its focus from running a store network to operating an online and offline business tied together by its Shop Your Way loyalty program.

The prospects * Brian Sozzi, CEO and chief equities strategies at Belus Capital Advisors, says crowds at both chains were thin over the Thanksgiving weekend. And the latest third-quarter results will likely make it critical for Sears to keep selling assets and stores to prop up its operations. By 2017, the company will operate about 900 stores, half its current size, Sozzi says.

RADIOSHACK CORP.

The problems * RadioShack's problem has been that the functions of so many products it sold have been taken up by smartphones. It sought to remake itself as a specialist in wireless devices and accessories.

The fix * RadioShack's turnaround efforts have included cutting costs, renovating and closing stores, and shuffling management. …

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