It's that time of year again -- Halloween. All things scary are gathered together in festivals of fear, the ghouls and goblins prancing about in dark parades. And if you happen to be a shareholder in Sears (NYSE:S), you might be thinking that All Hallow's Eve has arrived much too early.

The famous retailer dispatched its third-quarter results yesterday, which were quite disappointing. The quarter was highlighted by a net loss of $61 million ($0.29 per share) versus net income of $147 million ($0.52 per share) in the prior year's quarter. Analysts had expected Sears to post a penny per share in earnings. (Last year's results included the now-divested credit card business and National Tire & Battery.)

Sears achieved these results on sales and services revenues of $8.2 billion on a consolidated basis (domestic and Canadian stores); in the previous year it was $8.4 billion (which included $115 million from the divestiture of National Tire & Battery for the domestic segment). Domestic same-store sales were down 4%. Gross margins for the domestic segment were 25.9%, compared with last year's 26.7%.

To make matters worse, Sears isn't counting on a wonderful holiday season. The company thinks it will now earn $1.46 to $1.66 for the year as opposed to the range cited in the second-quarter report back in July, which was $2.66 to $2.86.

Here's what I take away from this report: Sears continues to struggle in terms of recapturing its erstwhile glory, when it was a bona fide shopping destination. The brand needs a rejuvenating injection. Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), Target (NYSE:TGT), Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), Home Depot (NYSE:HD) -- these are the usual suspects referred to in regard to the problems experienced at the place that made Bob Vila a messianic image to the weekend tool-belt set. Retail's a tough sector, with only the strongest able to eke out some solid value for the stakeholders. Sears hasn't been up to the task as of late; take a look at a recent same-store sales report and you'll see what I mean.

The stock took a hit yesterday, closing down over 8% to $33.74. The executives at Sears know that something must be done to grow sales and earnings again, and I hope they come up with something successful. For now, Sears is like Camp Crystal Lake to me -- something to be as far away from as possible (I wonder whether Jason shops in the Craftsman department).

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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned.