Sears steps up ethnic profile

Sears, Roebuck and Co. said Thursday that it will revamp 97 of its traditional stores this month to improve apparel shopping for Hispanics, African-Americans and Asians.

The changes, prompted by a two-year study of customer buying patterns at the nation's biggest department store chain, include new in-store signage and displays, as well as stepped-up hiring of bilingual workers in cities with large Hispanic populations.

The apparel floor in the retooled stores also will better showcase multicultural brands, including Sears' proprietary Lucy Pereda line, and feature a bigger inventory of colorful year-round apparel.

The makeover will occur in such markets as Chicago, New York, Miami and Los Angeles. If the pilot is successful, the Hoffman Estates-based retailer expects to expand the concept to additional markets next year.

African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians account for more than 25 percent of sales at Sears, which faces its fourth straight year of sales declines.

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