33 depressing photos that show Sears is a disaster

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

  • Sears is closing 166 stores this year, after closing nearly 400 stores last year.
  • The upcoming round of closures will leave Sears with fewer than 940 total stores, down from 3,510 six years ago.
  • We visited a Sears store in Glen Allen, Virginia and found empty shelves, broken merchandise displays, torn and stained carpet, evidence of water damage, and active ceiling leaks.

Sears is closing hundreds of stores amid a years-long downward spiral in sales and customer traffic.

The company said Thursday that it’s closing another 103 Sears and Kmart stores by April, on top of the 63 stores that it’s closing at the end of this month. The company shuttered nearly 400 stores last year.

The upcoming round of closures will leave Sears with fewer than 940 total stores, down from 3,510 six years ago.

Sears says it’s in the process of a transformation that will lead the company back to profitability.

But conditions inside some of Sears’ stores tell a different story.

We visited a Sears store in Glen Allen, Virginia in July and found empty shelves, broken merchandise displays, torn and stained carpet, evidence of water damage, active ceiling leaks, and curtains hanging from the ceiling that hid empty parts of the store.

Here’s what we saw.


The window displays outside the store — which are meant to entice shoppers passing by — are mostly empty.

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This is what greets shoppers upon entering: an empty table and an empty box.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

At another store entrance, we found an active ceiling leak with a bucket to catch dripping water.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Overhead, there were a number of water-damaged ceiling tiles. We spotted more than a dozen water stains on the ceiling tiles throughout the store.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

The tools department appeared to be suffering from a severe inventory shortage.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

More than half the displays in this department appeared to be either completely empty or short on inventory.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Sears has admitted in recent months that some suppliers are trying to cut back on orders or cancel shipments to the retailer altogether.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

“We reached the point in the past 12 months where some of our vendors have reduced their support thereby placing additional pressure on our business,” Sears CEO Eddie Lampert said in a blog post Friday.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Throughout the store it appeared that employees had spread out merchandise, like these red buckets, to try and fill empty shelves and floor space.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

The store was also using curtains to hide empty areas of the store.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Behind one curtain, which was hung from the ceiling, we found dozens of empty display shelves.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

In the clearance bedding section, we found missing wall tiles…

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

as well as ripped carpet and empty shelves.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

There was apparent water damage on the ceiling nearby, and the carpet underneath the tiles was stained.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

The ladies’ apparel department appeared dreary with little wall signage.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

We found an abandoned stepping stool…

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

and a broken display shelf.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

The men’s department also felt drab and empty.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

It looks like employees spread out the socks as much as possible to fill this wall, but it’s still mostly bare.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

One display nearby was full of merchandise, but it was a mess.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

We found another broken display shelf in the appliances department.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

This section was better stocked than other departments, but also lacked wall signage.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

The walls in the bedding department were equally bare.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

There were droves of empty shelves in the shoe department.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

It seems like Sears has either cut back its shoe orders, or is having problems with shoe suppliers.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

A department devoted to curtains also appeared to be missing some inventory.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

And the store seemed to be short on bicycles. There was only one for sale — a pink girls’ bike — in the entire store.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

The baby section appeared to be pretty well stocked, however.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Most of the registers in the store were left unattended by employees.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

A corner of the store featuring travel items featured the same items hanging on multiple hooks in a likely attempt to fill space.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

That strategy was less effective in a section devoted to sports team apparel.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Sears has been closing unprofitable stores and reducing square footage in many other stores to address the issue of excess space.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Overall, the store appears to need some upgrades and it would probably look a lot better if it were about half the square footage it is now.

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Business Insider