Washington Post retail reporter Sarah Halzack reviews the history of Sears and how it's done the last few years:
Decades of missed opportunities have brought Sears to this. It lost its focus with ventures into Discover credit cards and Coldwell Banker real estate in an attempt to diversify. Then big boxes such as Home Depot and Best Buy chipped away at lucrative product niches. But maybe the biggest whiff: Executives knew as far back as the early 1990s that they had to wean Sears off its dependency on shopping malls — but its many forays into other store formats never quite worked.
As e-commerce moves toward its golden age, Sears is an also-ran.
In this war of attrition, chief executive Edward S. Lampert has said, “We’re fighting like hell.” Lampert, a controversial hedge fund billionaire, has invested heavily in bolstering Sears’s Internet business but has let the retail stores languish. He’s now propping up the company with loans and other feats of financial engineering — moves that may soften his landing if the chain fails.
Halzack summarizes Sears' history well enough but has a lot more sympathy towards Lampert than I do. She acknowledges that Lampert has structured the company so that his own exit will be lucrative, but she says nothing about his management practices and personal outlook that suggest this was his plan all along.