An unlikely company has the most to gain if Sears closes all its stores

Sears' business is declining so rapidly that Wall Street analysts are now betting on who stands to win if the company closes all of its stores.

In that scenario, the retailer with the most to gain is Best Buy, according to a new analysis by UBS.

Best Buy might seem like an unlikely winner if Sears disappears. It's best known for selling electronics, whereas Sears' main businesses are apparel and appliances. 

But Best Buy has been aggressively expanding its share of the appliance market in recent years. Thanks to that increasing emphasis on appliances, as well as its proximity to existing Sears and Kmart stores, Best Buy would get the biggest lift in same-store sales if all Sears stores closed, analysts found. 

Home Depot and Lowe's would also get a huge boost in appliance sales from the demise of Sears. Together, Best Buy, Home Depot, and Lowe's would capture about 80% of Sears' appliance business if all its stores closed, analysts said.

RELATED: Check out all the major retailers that closed stores in 2017:

Retailers closing stores in 2017
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Retailers closing stores in 2017


Amazon is missing from that list — even though Sears is now selling its Kenmore appliances through Amazon — because shoppers still prefer to buy appliances in physical stores, according to the analysts. 

"While some of the appliance sales could leak to Amazon since it now carries Kenmore products, we think physical stores will remain the dominant channel for this category," they wrote. 

Other retailers that would get the biggest same-store sales boost from Sears' stores shutting down include Pier One Imports, Dick's Sporting Goods, and Williams Sonoma, analysts said.

The gains from Sears' business would be huge.

Sears sales have dropped roughly 70% in the last decade, but it's still on track to generate about $16 billion in sales in fiscal 2017, according to UBS. 

Sears' biggest categories are apparel ($4.8 billion), appliances ($3.5 billion), home improvement ($970 million), consumer electronics ($850 million), and sporting goods ($410 million), according to UBS estimates. 

SEE ALSO: Inside Sears' death spiral: How an iconic American brand has been driven to the edge of bankruptcy 

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