Sears will close its last Illinois-based department store on Nov. 14, when the location in Simon Property Group’s Woodfield Mall shuts its doors for the final time. Transfomco, the parent company for Sears and real estate manager for the Woodfield Mall location, told CNBC in a statement that it will try to keep the space vibrant with a new tenant.
Sears Holdings, which also owned Kmart, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2018 before Transformco acquired Sears out of bankruptcy and closed most Sears and Kmart locations across the country. The Transformco spokesperson wouldn’t say how many Sears or Kmart stores are still open, but the company’s website lists 35 Sears stores, including the Woodfield Mall location, and 22 Kmart outposts. Sears, which was founded in Chicago in the 1890s, was once the largest retailer in the U.S. with thousands of stores across the country. It had about 700 stores when it filed for bankruptcy three years ago.
Total Retail's Take: While the fact that Sears is closing its last store in Illinois isn't surprising to retail watchers out there, it is a sad end to an era. Sears' business blossomed through much of the 20th century, as it sold everything from homes to apparel. Throughout its history, Sears has mirrored the ups and downs of the American economy. However, just because Sears' retail locations are closing for good doesn't mean brick-and-mortar retail is dead. Amazon.com, for example, is opening brick-and-mortar locations too. The company hasn’t officially announced its plans to open department store-style retail locations, but The Wall Street Journal said last month it plans to open several large physical retail locations in the U.S. that will operate akin to department stores, a step to help the tech company extend its reach in sales of clothing, household items, electronics and other product categories. While it hasn't been formally announced, expect Amazon department stores in Ohio and California in the next several years, with the possibility of many more to follow, according to the WSJ.