The beleaguered Sears department store chain needs a Christmas miracle to stay in business next year but from the looks of their Black Friday ad and that of sister chain Kmart, they won’t be getting one. Their uninspiring ads totally fail at their one task of making Black Friday shoppers flock to their stores.
The cover of Sears’ Black Friday ad circular promises “Blowout! 10-50% off everything!” but the fine print adds the phrase “promotional items.” That means sale prices on stuff we just brought in so you can’t compare our new prices to the old ones. The Black Friday Doorbusters start at 6 pm on Thursday and are good until 2 pm Friday, November 24 or while quantities last.
The one place where Sears shines is appliances and there are Doorbuster Deals on a Kenmore refrigerator and washer/dryer combo. Unfortunately, these deals aren’t any more exciting than the ones Sears offers on appliances for every holiday sale, all year long. Sears offers “up to 40%” off” appliances through November 25, but again, this is pretty common for them.
Other Doorbusters offer all Die Hard industrial boots regularly priced at $105 to $110 for $49.99 a pair. Roebuck and Co. Jeans for him and her list priced at $39 are just $9 a pair, $8 for the kids’ jeans. Another Doorbuster Deal is a 320-piece Craftsman tool kit discounted $150 to $149.99. A Craftsman electric snow thrower is discounted $300 to $399.99.
This would be an OK cover for a Labor Day ad but for Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the whole year, this is pathetic. Your cover is where you hit shoppers with your best shot, your hottest deals, your most tempting merchandise. Other chains have sexy tech items. Sears has work boots and a tool kit. Things don’t get any better on the inside.
After seven pages of appliances with a few items of apparel tossed in, we come to tools, pages and pages of tools because everybody knows that claw hammers are going to be hot Black Friday items this year. 12 pages in we finally come to ladies’ apparel but it’s the usual Sears branded stuff that’s on sale all year long. The kids outerwear and sleepwear at 60% off looks pretty promising but not worth a special trip to Sears.
Sears matches the prices of other department store chains on name brand denim for men with Lee jeans going for $24.99 and Levi’s for $35.99. Team sports merchandise for the family originally selling for $6 to $100 is 40% off. Outerwear for him regularly priced at $50 to $180 is 60% off.
Sears has pre-lit Balsam Fir Christmas trees regularly selling for $139.99 for $39.99, a decent price for a 7’ artificial tree. Other trees, lights and ornaments are 50% off.
On page 21 of the 43-page flyer, things finally get a little bit interesting, with Doorbuster Deals on small appliances. Sears has the KitchenAid 5-qt stand mixer for $199.99, but so does everybody else. Sears does have your choice of a Hamilton Beach Pro Fryer, Presto 16” electric skillet, Hamilton Beach 8-cup food processor or Magic Bullet Personal Blender for $29.99 each. After one promising page of kitchen gadgets, you have to wade through more pages of home appliances and mattresses before you finally get to electronics on page 32, but aside from the Skullcandy Bluetooth headphones for $24.99, there’s nothing very interesting. After more pages of fitness equipment and bedding, you find shoes for the family up to 40% off, more work boots, tires and yet more tools.
This boring Black Friday ad is a good example of why Sears is a failing company with stores closing all over the country. They pack a 43-page flyer with run-of-the-mill merchandise that customers can see all year long rather than wowing potential shoppers with exciting new items and bargains that compete with those of their rivals.
The current state of Sears is especially sad since in days of yore before we ever heard of Walmart, Sears owned Christmas! Every November, kids would eagerly wait for the arrival of the Sears holiday catalog, dubbed “The Wish Book” and breathlessly peruse the pages and pages of toys, decorations and other items to make the holidays memorable. Back in the 1980s, Sears officially named their holiday catalog “The Wish Book” but with the rise of online shopping,their print catalogs fell by the wayside.
This year, Sears actually does have a “Wish Book” online but it’s heavy on the usual merchandise and light on the toys. Maybe if Sears could take a hint from Toys R Us and bring back the catalog packed with toys for kids of all ages, they wouldn’t be so likely to go out of business in 2018.
Kmart Black Friday
This year’s Kmart Black Friday ad flyer is a skinny five pages, indicating that this may be a blue Christmas for Sears’ sister store, too. At least Kmart’s Black Friday starts off with a bang – a Samsung 55” Smart 4K UHD TV regularly priced at $699.99 for $499.99 plus $50 in Cashback Points. Other chains are selling the same TV for the same price but at least Kmart is tossing in a bonus. Those points are good for 14 days and can be used to lower the price of other purchases over the next 14 days. Other Doorbusters include a Barbie beach or ballerina doll for $1.99, Joe Boxer jeans for $25 each and 1000-TC sheet sets in any size for $19.99 each.
Another good Doorbuster Deal is your choice of a Proctor Silex 5-speed hand mixer, can opener or 2-slice toaster for $4.99 each. These small appliances regularly sell for $9.99 each and this deal does not require a mail-in rebate. Small appliances usually selling for $14,99 to $15.99 are just $9.99 each. Take your choice of an Essential Home 5-cup coffeemaker, personal blender, 2-slice toaster or Black & Decker 1.5-cup food chopper.
Essential Home fleece throws and standard pillows are discounted to $1.99 each. Your choice of Sutton bath towels or 8-pack of washcloths are $2.49 each.
Kmart also offers a six-foot pre-lit and pre-decorated American Pine tree for $49.99. For those who want to decorate an office quickly or are just lazy, this is a good deal. For the more creative or thrifty there’s an un-decorated 6” Peninsula Pine tree for just $15. Other Christmas trees priced at $9.99 to $399.99 are 40% off and Christmas ornamentation and home decor items are 30% off.
Save 50% and get $5 in Cashback Points when you buy Skullcandy Bluetooth headphones for $24.99. Save $80 and get $20 in Cashback Points when you buy the Samsung 200-watt 2.1 channel soundbar with wireless subwoofer. On their website, Kmart has a large selection of TVs and other electronics but you’d never know it from reading their Black Friday ad.
Puffer jackets for men and women will be $19 each and $9 for the kids. Rustler men’s jeans are discounted from $14.99 to $9 each. Women’s sweaters are $9 each. Team sports apparel and merchandise for the family is 25% off and all fall and winter apparel and accessories are 50% off. Selection varies by store and some exclusions apply.
All in all, the Kmart Black Friday ad flyer is less depressing than the one from Sears but still gives little reason to make the discount chain part of your shopping this year. Sears Inc. has had years to come up with ways to keep its chains relevant in the current marketplace but has failed miserably. If Amazon was a shiny new Lexus SUV with all the bells and whistles and Target was a zippy little red sports car, Sears would be a rusted out 1980 Buick ready for the scrap heap. The one time you may want to go on a shopping spree at Sears or Kmart is when they have their going-out-of-business sales sometime in the near future.