Sears, the original Amazon of US retailing, files for bankruptcy protection

Sears Holdings, the 125-year-old Chicago-based retailer, filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday morning.  The company, which had been hemorrhaging cash, buckled under the weight of its debt. Sears has lost more than $10 billion since 2010, according to Bloomberg.

Sears was once ranked as America’s top retailer, and through its catalogue sales was the Amazon of the 1900s. The firm opened its first store in 1925 in Chicago. In the decades after World War II, the Sears brand benefitted along with the growth of America’s burgeoning middle class. Sears’ prominence peaked in 1973, the year it opened its eponymous office building that at the time was the tallest in the world. Changing tastes and ill-fated diversification set the retailer on a slow, downward spiral that has continued ever since.

Sears is the fifteenth retailer to have filed for bankruptcy protection this year, joining the ranks of Toys R Us, Nine West and Brookstone. Brick-and-mortar retailers are fighting over an ephemeral slice of a shrinking pie.