Sears dumps clothing department in 10 stores

NEW YORK (AP) ? In response to shoppers’ demands, Sears Holdings Corp. is getting rid of clothing in 10 of its department stores in favor of offering more mattresses and recliners.

“We will be offering more products in categories for which shoppers have asked for a larger assortment,” said Chris Brathwaite, a Sears spokesman, in an email statement Thursday. He added that there are no plans at this time to expand that allocation strategy to other Sears, Roebuck & Co. stores.

“The reallocation was undertaken to address the specific needs of local customers in a very limited number of doors,” he added.

Brathwaite noted that Sears clothing and related categories will be still offered to local customers on

The move comes as Sears, which also operates Kmart stores, is working to fix its business after a disastrous holiday season. The chain announced in late December it was closing anywhere from 100 to 120 stores. It announced last month that it will spin off its smaller Hometown and Outlet stores as well as some hardware stores in a deal expected to raise $400 million to $500 million. In a separate deal, Sears will sell 11 stores to the real estate company General Growth Properties for $270 million. The Hoffman Estates, Ill., company, led by billionaire investor Edward Lampert, also said it plans to cut inventory by $580 million.

“We are taking immediate actions to address our fourth-quarter performance,” said Lou D’Ambrosio, Sears’ CEO and president, in a statement last month.

Clothing has been among the weakest area in Sears stores as the retailer faces heavy competition from a diverse set of players ranging from fast-fashion rivals like H&M and Forever 21 to mid-priced department stores likes Kohl’s, Macy’s and J.C. Penney. All three department store chains have bolstered their selections with exclusive brands.

Sears doesn’t break down how much clothing accounts for its total sales, but according to a recent regulatory filing, clothing and home furnishings combined accounted for 25 percent of Sears’ annual domestic sales in its latest fiscal year.

Sears’ shares rose nearly 3 percent, or $2.26, to $82.22 in midday trading. Shares have more than doubled in the year to date.