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Crain’s Chicago Business reports that “Sears Holdings Corp. Chairman Edward Lampert's cost-cutting campaign is slicing into the retailer's philanthropic commitments,” and that the company, traditionally a major contributor to the city’s cultural and charitable scene, has been making major cutbacks since its acquisition by and merger with Kmart.

As recently as 2003, Sears donated $44 million to various charities. Now, the company says it no longer discloses its corporate largesse, and Crain’s documents various cases where the company has withdrawn support for specific charities.

Crain’s writes: “Shrinking the company's civic and charitable spending would be consistent with Mr. Lampert's effort to improve financial performance by trimming overhead. But many retailers give large sums to charities, trumpeting the donations as part of their marketing strategies. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. each gave away more than $100 million in 2004. Sears' retreat reinforces the widespread perception that Mr. Lampert is more interested in harvesting the value of Sears' real estate holdings than in its potential as a retailer.”
KC's View:
We suppose that it is hard to justify charitable giving when a company is as financially troubled as Ksears is.

But the Crain’s point is well taken. It certainly seems plausible that Ksears isn’t worried about its role in the community because it has no intention of having any sort of long term role in the community.