A Sears store in Schaumburg, Illinois. Sears Holdings, the parent of Kmart and Sears, Roebuck, & Co, joins a growing list of retailers that have filed for bankruptcy or liquidated in the last two years amid a fiercely competitive climate. Image Credit: AFP

NEW YORK: Sears has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, buckling under its massive debt load and staggering losses.

The company once dominated the American landscape, but whether a smaller Sears can be viable remains in question.

It joins a growing list of retailers that have filed for bankruptcy or liquidated in the last two years amid a fiercely competitive climate.

But with its sheer colossal size, Sears' reorganization in court will have even wider ripple effects.

The operator of Kmart and Sears stores has already closed hundreds of locations and has put other famous brands on the block as it burns through money and sees more customers abandon its often-neglected stores.