Over the last two months, Sears, Roebuck & Co. has been contacting its suppliers and vendors to tell them that it will start revising its payment terms in September, a company spokesman said yesterday.
Instead of paying for shipments within 30 days, Sears will take 60 days to pay, said Gerald E. Buldak, a spokesman for Sears.
"From a competitive-analysis standpoint, many of our competitors have not only gone to this but to payment terms beyond 60 days," he said.
Mr. Buldak said that Sears conducted a study of payment terms and conditions throughout the retail industry and found that the 30-day payment period Sears was adhering to was not the industry standard.
But several apparel manufacturers interviewed yesterday said that, with a very few exceptions, retailers pay for merchandise in 30 days.
One supplier who ships goods to Sears and several other retailers throughout the country said J. C. Penney's contract, for example, calls for 30-day payment, as do the supplier's contracts with most of the
major department stores. The supplier spoke on condition of anonymity.
Sears' move comes at time when apparel manufacturers are already feeling a credit squeeze because of the poor economy and the general weakness among retailers.
Mr. Buldak said that Sears would continue to adhere to payment schedules prescribed in contracts signed before September.