BUSINESS

#BoycottSearsCanada Takes Hold Amid Liquidation Sales

The struggling retailer is facing a PR headache over layoffs and a lack of severance pay.

07/23/2017 10:25 EDT | Updated 07/24/2017 13:57 EDT
The Canadian Press/Ryan Remiorz
Bargain hunters are seen at the Sears store in St. Eustache, Que. on July 21, 2017, the first day of liquidation sales at 54 Sears locations nationwide.

To judge by its Facebook page, Sears Canada might be the most disliked company in the country these days.

Pretty much every posting is covered with comments criticizing the company for its decision to lay off 2,900 people without severance, as part of a creditor protection filing last month that will see the chain close 59 stores nationwide.

Sears launched clearance sales at 54 stores on Friday, bringing with it a fresh wave of criticism.

Facebook

Some criticized the company for trying to stop paying into its pension plan. Others wondered why Sears Canada, currently under creditor protection, still has money for an advertising budget.

But for many, the straw that broke the camel's back was the company's decision approved by the courts to hand out $9.2 million in retention bonuses to 43 senior employees.

Critics used the hashtag #BoycottSearsCanada to encourage others to protest the retailer over its chosen tact.

In an interview with CBC News, retail analyst Bruce Winder described the situation as a "PR nightmare" and one "that is not going to serve them well as they try to build back sales momentum."

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But are the protests harming the company beyond its Facebook page?

It may be too early to tell, but local news reports suggest Sears saw heavy foot traffic on the first day of its liquidation sales.

But even among those shopping at Sears' liquidation sales, the perception of the company seems to be negative.

"I just talked to a lady [who said that] that this her last day," a shopper told Global News in Saint John, N.B. "She worked for 31 years here and she's not going to get a pension or anything, and I think that's wrong."

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