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Searsiously? Sears

January 14, 2014

Readers: This article was originally published October 2014.

As the polar vortex started to bear down on Manhattan, I was sick. For four days, I lay in my bed, curled up, whimpering in the fetal position and wishing that my mom lived closer to care for me. So I spent a lot of time watching the local news because I LOVE all the drama that the media creates when a good storm is on the way. I also spent a lot of time on Twitter.

As a New Yorker, I can’t exist without certain Twitter feeds. @NYCityAlertsand @NYPDnews keep me updated on where people are getting shot and randomly face punched so that I can try to avoid those areas. These feeds were extremely active over the course of the storm. Planes skidded off runways. Others landed on the Major Deegan. There were fires in high rises. Apparently, it was a crazy few days outside of my apartment. But what was so interesting to me was the lapse in time between when Twitter would surface breaking news and the networks would pick it up.

At the same time that all of this is going on, @BrianSozzi, the CEO and Chief Equities Strategist at Belus Capital Advisors, posted pictures taken inside of Sears stores. These images showed empty shelves, clothing carelessly laying on the floor. 


Many stores had empty shelves, and clothing carelessly laying on the floor. Source: Brian Sozzi, Belus Capital Advisors

According to Sozzi, all of these images pointed to management issues. Sears’ VP of Corporate Communications got engaged in the dialogue on Twitter, rigorously defending his company. Here’s just one example:


Sears’ VP of Corporate Communications got engaged in the dialogue on Twitter, rigorously defending his company. Source: Brian Sozzi, Belus Capital Advisors

I also follow @Rocco_TheStreet. Rocco is a columnist at the and has been covering his perspective on the sorry state of physical retail for several years now. Well, his posts about Sears really started dialing up on January 4. I mean, from the 4thto the 8th, this story was lighting up my Twitter feed like a Christmas tree. Sozzi basically crowd sourced his followers to head into Sears stores and share photos to further chronicle issues with Sears merchandising and the photos started pouring in. But you know where the story wasn’t really playing out to as major of an extent? Traditional business news sources.

So where am I going with this? After market close on January 9, Sears announced that its quarter-to-date same store sales at Kmart and Sears fell 7.4%. The company adjusted its loss forecast down from $2.01 a share to $2.98 and the stock took a 12% hit in after-hours trading.

There is a tremendous dialogue happening in social media with thought leaders in investing. The sad thing is I’m writing this on a blog from a social media post so I know that I’m preaching to the choir. But consider this:

Our friends at LikeFolio have a tremendous database where they can see mentions of publicly traded companies and the brands that roll up to them. I asked them to share some perspective on what they could see in their database with Sears. Here’s what they said:

–In December of 2012, there were 148K mentions of SHLD brands or products. Average sentiment “slightly positive” with far more “enthusiastically positive” than “enthusiastically negative.” The majority of the mentions were about: Shopping, buying gifts, craftsman and their funny commercials.

–In December of 2013, there were 155K mentions of SHLD brands or products. Average sentiment “negative” with FAR more “enthusiastically negative” than “enthusiastically positive.” Majority of mentions were about: Manager, logistics, “struggling,” and free.

–On January 1–8 (just 8 days, mind you), there was an astounding … wait for it…

38K mentions of SHLD brands and products. The average sentiment was even lower than December of 2013. The majority of the negative mentions about “Management,” “Customer Service,” and the stock itself.

And then on January 9, Sears warned for a Q4 loss.

Wouldn’t it be great if you had technology that could expose these types of pivotal undercurrents in the social dialogue? If you could tap into “social” as a powerful medium in addition to your normal go-to sources? Well stay tuned, my friends, because we at TD Ameritrade intend to make this the best year ever in technology innovation for the individual investor.

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