For more than a century, Sears has been selling Whirlpool appliances in their stores. A recent dispute over prices resulted in Sears pulling the plug on their Whirlpool partnership. In a media leaked memo to employees, Sears issued the following statement:
“Whirlpool has sought to use its dominant position in the marketplace to make demands that would have prohibited us from offering Whirlpool products to our members at a reasonable price,”
This isn’t the first time Sears has complained about vendor prices recently. In May of this year, Sears CEO Eddie Lampert publicly blasted another vendor in the Sears Holdings blog, claiming that they were charging too much for their products.
“We will not simply roll over and be taken advantage of,” said Lampert. “We will do what’s right to protect the interests of our company and the millions of stakeholders we serve,” Lampert claimed these vendors were attempting to leverage rumors that Sears may be sinking under the pressure of a shifting market to demand a more lucrative relationship.
Rumors of financial trouble for Sears do not appear unfounded. For the past three years, Sears stock has dropped steadily.
In January, Sears attempted to stave off the decline by selling its iconic Craftsman tool brand for $900 million. As a result of the sale, Sears rival Lowe’s will now carry Craftsman tools. Unfortunately, the revenue generating move did not prevent significant store closings. On October 10th the retailer announced they are closing all of their stores in Canada. More store closings may follow as the company tries to improve its financial standings.
Whirlpool is facing its own troubles. The company’s stock took a major dive after news of the Sears split. Sales have been weak as consumers flock to less expensive brands, and their raised prices may not entice new buyers.
So what does this mean for consumers?
In the short term, it may mean sales as stores clear their Whirlpool supply. Sears stated they would only sell Whirlpool appliances that are currently in stock. It could mean getting quality appliances at steep discounts.
Will the discounts be worthwhile? It depends on your needs. The savvy shopper should take into consideration what these shifts may mean during the life of their appliance. Most appliances have a lifespan of 8-15 years. What happens if the store where you buy your refrigerator stops servicing the brand after you’ve bought it? Will it be possible to get replacement parts if repairs are needed? Fortunately, consumers can rely on local independent appliance repair shops like It Is Fixed Appliance Repair to service their machines, regardless of brand or original purchase location, so if the Sears/Whirlpool breakup results in sweet sales, it could be a good time to cash in.
Appliance buyers who only want the newest models with the latest features will need to shop elsewhere for Whirlpool appliances. This includes its popular subsidiaries like Maytag, Jenn-Air, and Kitchenaid. Loyal Sears shoppers will still be able to find Frigidaire, GE, LG, Samsung, Electrolux and Bosch appliances in stores.