She droned on about how having a physical mall location is the main reason Sears won't last much longer. Except that Sears has stores in non-mall locations that aren't doing much better. And other mall stores, for example, Eddie Bauer, are doing fine. And K-Mart stores, which are doing as poorly as Sears stores, are not generally located in malls.
As I wrote in So long, Sears; it's been swell, JCPenney; just die, Walmart, the main problem is Eddie Lampert, the owner of both Sears and K-Mart. Anyone walking around in a Sears store sees fixtures, shelves, floors, and other infrastructure in need of serious repair or replacement, with this due to not-so-fast Eddie's bizarre refusal to invest in his stores. Merchandise is poorly arranged, with some shelves empty. Sears stores are no longer pleasant places to shop, as they were before Lampert took over.
And the worst sin of all is that Lampert outsourced the decades-in-the-making "Made in the USA" Craftsman Tools. Talk about killing the golden goose! Chinese-made tools can be found anywhere, but American-made ones are as scarce as hen's teeth. Not to mention the millions of loyal customers Lampert drove away.
McArdle's bias was manifested in the fact that Lampert's name was not mentioned once in her article, unlike with just about every other article writing the obituary for Sears.
But she is correct about Sears lying on its death bed, with third quarter results being positively dreadful.
If she had done her homework, she would have referenced a July 2013 Bloomberg article, At Sears, Eddie Lampert's Warring Divisions Model Adds to the Troubles. The article's words still ring true today: "Lampert runs Sears like a hedge fund portfolio, with dozens of autonomous businesses competing for his attention and money. An outspoken advocate of free-market economics and fan of the novelist Ayn Rand, he created the model because he expected the invisible hand of the market to drive better results. If the company’s leaders were told to act selfishly, he argued, they would run their divisions in a rational manner, boosting overall performance."
Another relevant article from 2013 is Ayn Rand-loving CEO destroys his empire. Lampert "took the myth that humans perform best when acting selfishly as gospel, pitting Sears company managers against each other in a kind of Lord of the Flies death match. This, he believed, would cause them to act rationally and boost performance ... instead of enhancing Sears’ bottom line, the heads of various divisions began to undermine each other and fight tooth and claw for the profits of their individual fiefdoms at the expense of the overall brand. By this time Crazy Eddie was completely in thrall to his own bloated ego, and fancied he could bend underlings to his will by putting them through humiliating rituals, like annual conference calls in which unit managers were forced to bow and scrape for money and resources."
Lampert is both one of the worst five CEOs in America and the most hated.
It's Eddie Lampert, stupid. And that witch, Ayn Rand.