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Sears Set to Ramp up Pace of Store Closings Amid Further Losses

The once-venerable department store chain on Thursday reported a wider third-quarter loss than the prior-year period as sales continued to slide.

The results were the latest indication that revenue and operating performance at the iconic retailer continue to deteriorate, despite its efforts to get rid of underperforming stores, lessen its dependence on categories that are struggling in its shops and make money from its real estate footprint.

"In the movie 'Titanic,' there is a line where, realizing chaos is about to ensue, one character helpfully notes, 'It's starting to fall apart. We don't have much time,'" Conlumino analyst Neil Saunders said. "Such a sentiment could well be applied to Sears. The analogy with 'Titanic' is also apt; not least because while Sears was once a titan of U.S. retail, it now looks set to sink."

Sales at its established stores declined 7.4 percent, including a 4.4 percent dip at Kmart and a 10 percent drop at Sears.

In a news release outlining its results, Sears CEO Eddie Lampert reiterated that the company remains "fully committed to restoring profitability to our company."

Sears, which has been selling off stores and other assets in search of becoming profitable, has raised roughly $9.4 billion 2012 through third quarter 2016. In May, it said it was exploring strategic alternatives for its Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard brands, as well as its home services business, and said it is still evaluating opportunities.

At a national real estate conference in New York City this week, chatter swirled that late 2017 would be the earliest date Sears would file for bankruptcy, so that it could protect the $2.7 billion in assets it sold to Seritage Growth Properties and through joint venture deals last year.