Sears tries a new strategy * Giant retailer to offer guarantee on kids' clothes.


Responding to the mother's lament that kids seem to wear out their clothes about as soon as they put them on, Sears Roebuck & Co. is offering to replace without charge any Sears children's clothing that wears out while the child is in the same size.

The new warranty system, which started yesterday, has been dubbed KidVantage and is part of a two-pronged program that Sears officials say will help take pressure off family budgets.

Besides the free-replacement warranty, Sears is instituting a KidVantage Frequent Purchase Card that will entitle shoppers to discounts of up to 15 percent on children's apparel, depending on the amount purchased.

Officials said the program is effective in all Kids & More departments at the more than 800 Sears retail stores nationwide.

Sears has tried a number of marketing strategies in the last several years to little or no avail. Its much ballyhooed promise of "everyday low prices" and its switch to brand-name merchandise failed to substantially boost sales.

Its latest effort with children's apparel appears to be a response to the recessionary concerns and tighter budgets afflicting many households. The new program covers only apparel and not footwear, a Sears spokesman said.

Sears said its own research showed that parents were concerned about value and the fact that children both grow out of and wear out their clothes too quickly.

'Kids are tough on clothes and buying kids' clothes can be tough on the family budget," said Warren E. Flick, vice president, men's and children's apparel for Sears Merchandise Group.

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