Big box stores closing down locally and nationally


Anya Belomoina

Numerous department stores around the area have been closing down this year. Sears, one of the main anchors of Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills, closed because it was unable to compete with the lower prices in stores such as Walmart and they struggled as customers began to prefer online shopping over going to a physical store.

Big-box stores, such as Carson’s and Sears, have been closing down recently in our community and across the country.

Five Sears stores closed in 2018 in the state of Illinois, one of which was located in Hawthorn Mall. Sears, one of the anchors of Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills, closed in September because it was unable to compete with other big-box stores, according to CNN. Similarly, Carson’s, also located in Hawthorn Mall, has been going bankrupt due to increased competition from other retailers and online shopping.

With competition from stores like Walmart and Target, which offer more competitive prices, online shopping and a larger variety of shopping goods, stores such as Sears and Carson’s weren’t able to compete, according to the Chicago Tribune. For example, the Walmart and Target in Vernon Hills both offer food, toys, clothes, appliances, furniture, home decor and technology, making them one-stop stories for shoppers to get everything they need. This, along with other factors, made it difficult for Sears and Carson’s, which sold a smaller variety of products, to compete and remain in business.  

According to CNN, beginning in 1888, Sears was the “Amazon and Walmart of their day.”  This Chicago-based company came out with their catalog, which revolutionized the way people shopped. Sears changed the way shoppers experienced shopping by offering appliances, clothing, furniture, makeup and more, something shoppers were not accustomed to, as many people at the time made their own clothes and even their own furniture. However, Sears was not able to stay relevant, as they failed to invest in their brand, CNN reported. Coupled with all of this, Sears did not have a strong online presence and failed to change with the times.  

  Carson Pirie Scott, another iconic Chicago store, with 160 years in the market, was not able to make enough improvements in their online and brick-and-mortar stores, according to the Chicago Tribune.  Carson’s was slower to change with the times, in contrast to other big-box stores such as Macy’s or Nordstrom.  According to a long-time shopper interviewed by the Chicago Tribune, the shopper stated that she noticed a decline in the quality and fit of the apparel and shoes sold by Carson’s as time went on.

This past Thanksgiving, many families, after eating their Thanksgiving meal, raced to Macy’s, JCPenney, Walmart, Target and, Best Buy in Vernon Hills to participate in Black Friday shopping. Black Friday set records this year racking up $6.22 billion in online sales, with more than $2 billion coming from smartphone sales, according to Adobe Analytics. Although online shopping has become preferred by many shoppers, Black Friday shopping continues to be a popular shopping experience amongst many consumers.

Following Black Friday, many of the same shoppers geared up their laptops to participate in Cyber Monday. Online shopping has taken a leading role in the experience of shoppers. According to initial statistics from Adobe Analytics, e-commerce sales closed in on a historic $8 billion mark for Cyber Monday, with a significant spike of buy online/pick up in-store purchases.

“We are becoming so much more comfortable interacting with screens as opposed to humans. That’s another really attractive part [about online shopping],” said Mr. Dennis Duffy, a social studies teacher. “[Many shoppers] are much more comfortable with an interface between them.”

Convenience is also a major factor in the growth in popularity of online shopping. Everything is right at the fingertips of the consumers and there is not a big hassle trying to shop, according to Mr. Duffy.

Mr. Jorge Tamayo, and AP Economics teacher, believes that although online shopping is not the only reason for the big-box stores to have closed, it was a contributor. He believes that “with lower demand and really thin profit margins. they just weren’t really able to get ahead of that debt.”