Retailers on the Wane

The New Year Has New Urgency for Best Buy, RadioShack, J.C. Penney and Sears

These unlucky retailers are going into the New Year with extra woes: slipping sales, questionable strategies and tight finances—which is why they are the ones to watch, and not in a good way.
Comments (an average Joe's perspective on retail):
  • Best Buy: We were there 2 years ago (I think January 2010) and bought a new printer. Best Buy's problem is: Amazon and the recent recession. My kids are bugging me to buy and HD TV but I am holding off until the giant tube dies! A guy at church is on the Geek Squad. I am rooting for him! 
  • Sears: I don't believe we have shopped at Sears for more than a decade. It used to be my go-to place for auto repairs, tires, et cetera. Replacement go to places: Batteries Plus, Warners' Stellian (appliances), any tire store, any place other than Sears for clothing.
  • Radio Shack: The last time we were in a Radio Shack was several years ago on vacation when we needed a cell phone connector of some kind.
  • J C Penney: Kathee wanted to have new window treatments in the L/R, Kitchen and dinning room. We called in Ethan Allen. After I got the quote, I called J C Penney and their price was about 40% of Ethan Allen.

From an investing perspective I wouldn't touch these companies with a ten-foot pole: SHLD, JCP, BBY, RSH.


  1. Out here in the sticks, Radio Shack is actually worthwhile--you go in, ask for what you want, and the guy actually knows if they have it and where it is. Saves at least half an hour, not counting the drive, over going to a big box electronics store.

    I teased the owner once about not conforming to the 1990s RS theme "You have questions; we have blank stares." He got a kick out of it.

  2. Radio Shack used to be a fun place to go when I would do electronics projects with my Grandpa. But I don't think I've been in one of their stores since getting a cell phone there in 1998.

    If Best Buy folds, I hope someone buys the Geek Squad name/brand back. They ruined it, IMO. Geek Squad started out as the place you could trust to give good repair/diagnosis/customer service. Best Buy ruined all that, turning it into a laughing-stock of computer service centers. Will all respect to the employee you know, I'd never recommend anyone take their computer to them.

  3. 1/4/12: Best Buy Claims It Lost $65,000 in a Day Matching Walmart’s iPhone 5 Discount

    Best Buy’s price-matching guarantee backfired last month when it lost about $65,000 in one day after Walmart advertised discounts on Apple’s flagship iPhone 5.
    In the case of the iPhone 5, Best Buy said it was compelled to match Walmart’s advertised price, even though it “concluded that Walmart didn’t actually have a sufficient number of iPhones available.”

  4. 1/8/13: Lampert Takes Over as Sears CEO: He’s Waiting to Slice and Dice It, Says Macke

    "I think [Lampert] is marking time until he can chop this thing up and sell this thing for the brands," says Breakout's Jeff Macke, who joined The Daily Ticker's Henry Blodget in the accompanying interview. "You've got all these different brands within Sears that are terrific and still have the reputation. The stores themselves [are] dumps."

    Lampert has been routinely criticized for his lack of retail expertise. In 2005, he merged Sears with Kmart. Same-store sales for the combined entity have declined for five straight years.

    "This is a cautionary tale for merchants who are trying to turn stores around without actually spending any money on the stores themselves," Macke says. "These dilapidated retail fronts that you have out there don't do any business because, quite frankly, it is embarrassing to go into a Sears now."

  5. 2/1/13: Eight Retailers That Will Close the Most Stores:

    Best Buy, Sears, Radio Shack, J C Penney, Office Depot, Barnes and Noble, Gamestop, Office Max.


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