• The company will close 142 stores before the end of the year and its CEO, Eddie Lampert, will step down.
  • Lampert has blamed the company's decline on the
  • But analysts and critics say the company's demise is the result of years of under-investments in stores.
  • Some stores have shown

Sears filed for bankruptcy early on Monday morning following a multi-year battle to stay afloat amid steep declines in sales and customer traffic.

The company also said it will close 142 stores before the end of the year and that Eddie Lampert will be stepping down as CEO, though he will remain its chairman.

The 125-year-old retailer, once the most iconic retailer in America, has seen its sales cut in half since 2014. It has been burning through cash, closing hundreds of stores, and slashing jobs in an attempt to stanch the bleeding.

Lampert has blamed the company's decline on the media,shifts in consumer spending, and the rise of e-commerce, among other reasons.

In a statement on Monday, Lampert said: "

For years, Lampert has kept the ailing retailer afloat through billions of dollars in loans from his hedge fund, ESL Investments, the selling off of valuable real estate

He has said these measures would buy Sears more time to execute a transformationthat will lead the company back to profitability.

But analysts are skeptical that the company can make a comeback following years of under-investments in stores.

Lampert's critics — including some former Sears executives — have also blasted him for managing a company in crisis from afar, only visiting Sears' headquarters about once a year for the annual shareholder meeting.

Instead, Lampert prefers to

Some stores have started hanging bed sheets and shower curtains from the ceiling to cover empty areas. The company has also introduced handwritten pricing signs in an apparent effort to slash costs.

He has also defended his investment strategy in stores.

"I was criticized for not investing enough in the stores," Lampert said in 2013. "My point of view is we couldn't invest in everything."

Some loyal shoppers are lamenting the loss of what was once America's most iconic retailer.

  • Sears' top spokesman jumps ship as reports emerge of a potential bankruptcy filing
  • Sears is closing more stores, with some layoffs starting 2 days before Christmas
  • Sears' CEO is making a last-ditch effort to avoid bankruptcy
  • Sears debuts handwritten signs in stores in an apparent effort to slash costs
  • 'This is all a sham': Ex-Sears executive says the CEO's new bid to revive Sears will kill off the 125-year-old retailer once and for all