Sears lists 80 stores to close
Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Sears Holdings has identified 80 of the 100 to 120 stores it plans to close as part of a strategy it announced earlier this week.
The list of 80 stores-to-be-closed includes 39 Kmart stores, 25 Sears full-line stores, and 14 Grand/Essentials and two Sears Hardlines Only stores. The list can be seen here.
Seven Florida locations are on the list. Five Michigan locations are on the list. Sears’ home state of Illinois has no stores on the list of 80.
The two Sears Hardlines Only stores on the list are located in Lewiston, Idaho, and Middlesboro, Ky.
The company said more updates on store closings will be posted as they become available.
Lowe’s buys online retailer ATG Stores
Mooresville, N.C.-based Lowe’s acquired ATG Stores, an online retailer of home improvement and lifestyle products based in Kirkland, Wash.
The acquisition, announced Thursday morning, "underscores Lowe’s commitment to providing an endless aisle of products," the company said. The move is part of an effort to boost the retailer’s online and multichannel presence.
As Lowe’s explains it, the acquisition allows Lowe’s and ATG Stores to capitalize on complementary strengths and employees’ extensive expertise by sharing best practices for online marketing and merchandising.
ATG Stores is named for the initials of Allied Trade Group. It will remain an independent, wholly owned subsidiary of Lowe’s Companies, Inc. The two organizations will maintain separate branding and independent assortment planning and merchandising. All ATG jobs will remain in Kirkland, and no jobs will be lost as a result of the acquisition, the company said.
“The addition of ATG Stores is a strategic fit, providing more opportunities for Lowe’s to be a relevant partner at every stage of the home improvement process and deliver better customer experiences from inspiration to planning to enjoyment,” said Robert Niblock, Lowe’s chairman, president and CEO. “ATG Stores is an extension of Lowe’s commitment to providing consumers with flexibility, simplicity and value, whenever and wherever they choose to shop.”
"Lowe’s commitment to consumers, innovation and long-term strategy, combined with our unique online product offering, presents a long-term opportunity for ATG Stores and Lowe’s to grow in the multichannel space,” said Gary Rubens, CEO of ATG Stores.
Pending sales hit highest level in 19 months
Pending home sales continued to gain in November and reached the highest level in 19 months, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, increased 7.3% to 100.1 in November from an upwardly revised 93.3 in October and is 5.9% above November 2010 when it stood at 94.5. The October upward revision resulted in a 10.4% monthly gain.
The last time the index was higher was in April 2010 when it reached 111.5 as buyers rushed to beat the deadline for the home buyer tax credit. The data reflects contracts but not closings.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the gains may result partially from delayed transactions. “Housing affordability conditions are at a record high and there is a pent-up demand from buyers who’ve been on the sidelines, but contract failures have been running unusually high. Some of the increase in pending home sales appears to be from buyers recommitting after an initial contract ran into problems, often with the mortgage,” he said.
“November is doing reasonably well in comparison with the past year. The sustained rise in contract activity suggests that closed existing-home sales, which are the important final economic impact figures, should continue to improve in the months ahead,” Yun added.
Pending home sales are not affected by the recently published rebenchmarking of existing-home sales because the index uses a different methodology based directly on contract signings, and is adjusted for seasonality.
The PHSI in the Northeast rose 8.1% to 77.1 in November but is 0.3% below November 2010. In the Midwest the index increased 3.3% to 91.6 in November and is 9.5% above a year ago. Pending home sales in the South rose 4.3 percent in November to an index of 103.8 and remain 8.7% above November 2010. In the West the index surged 14.9% to 121.2 in November and is 2.9% higher than a year ago.