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Sears is bringing back its iconic holiday catalog

  • Sears' 120-page gift guide will include holiday decor, home furnishings, games and toys, appliances, apparel, and more.
  • There will also be a digital version available on Sears.com, and one on the retailer's app.
  • Sears' first Christmas Book catalog was published in 1933.
Shoppers line up next to hot tubs as they wait for a Sears Holdings Corp. store to open ahead of Black Friday in Peoria, Illinois.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Shoppers line up next to hot tubs as they wait for a Sears Holdings Corp. store to open ahead of Black Friday in Peoria, Illinois.

The nostalgia is real.

Sears just announced it's bringing back its iconic holiday catalog, something the department store chain hasn't done since 2011.

This year, Sears said it's "reinvented" the 120-page gift guide, which includes holiday decor, home furnishings, games and toys, appliances, apparel, and more. There will also be a digital version available on Sears.com, and one on the retailer's app.

The first Sears Wish Book was known as the Sears Christmas Book catalog when it was rolled out in 1933, right in the midst of the Great Depression. In it, shoppers would flip through to find battery-powered cars, Mickey Mouse toys, fruitcakes and even live canaries.

"In an era when print media reigned supreme, Sears dominated the rural retail market through its huge catalog, an amazing work of product advertising, consumer education, and corporate branding," Vicki Howard, author of "From Main Street to Mall: The Rise and Fall of the American Department Store," wrote.

"Sears taught Americans how to shop," she added.

The original holiday books were thick — easily more than 400 pages. Decades ago, parents and children alike could single-handedly craft their holiday wish lists from Sears' offerings alone.

In 2017, a slimmed-down digital version of Sears' catalog will allow shoppers to click into pages and add items to a wish list by selecting a "heart" icon.

To get your hands on a physical copy, you need to be considered one of Sears' "best members," or a participant of the company's Shop Your Way loyalty program. Tangible copies of the look book will be limited, according to Sears.

"Our members told us they missed the Wish Book, so we had to bring it back, but in a special way that lets you share more joy wherever you are," Kelly Cook, chief marketing officer for Sears and Kmart, said in a statement.

A holiday catalog comeback could be one way for Sears to stir up excitement in shopping its brands during the all-important November and December months.

A new survey by Deloitte found that online spending during the 2017 holidays is slated to exceed in-store shopping for the first time. In tune to this, e-commerce giant Amazon is launching its own handmade gift shop, in an attempt to steal a bigger share of shoppers' spending around special occasions.

That leaves companies such as Sears, Macy's, J.C. Penney and Kohl's looking for ways to lure shoppers out of their homes and into brick-and-mortar retail, especially on key days such as Black Friday.

Sears Holdings has faced struggles of its own of late. As overall same-store sales decline, the department store chain has been shuttering unprofitable Sears and Kmart stores in an attempt to cut costs and round up additional liquidity.

Sears Chief Executive Eddie Lampert has also lent the company some money from his hedge fund, ESL Investments, to make it through the holidays.