On the subjects of Sears, Craftsman, and Lowe's, the first pic below strikes a nerve for me
Surely home centers such as Lowe's and Home Depot have taken lots of business from Sears. When I bought my first house, besides tools, Sears was my go-to place for paint and all the accessories that go with - brushes, thinner, rolling pans, etc - as well as appliances.
Now I can get all that at home centers, as well as lumber, too. And, like Sears, they have credit cards. Plus, I drive by 3 Home Depots and 3 Lowe's on my way to the nearest Sears (all the way over in Mesquite, TX).
Anyway, in one pic, you can see both the past and the present. Not sure the future, but it might be an Amazon quad-copter carrying a gallon of paint, and a 10mm socket
The other pic (and the real reason for this post) shows two equivalent sockets - both Craftsman branded, 3/16", shallow, 6pt sockets with ¼" drive. One is on the shelf at Sears with a $3.48 price tag while the other is at Lowe's priced at $2.48, a savings of about 28%. It's not clear that all Craftsman tools will have the same savings - the similar 5/16" socket in the next bin was $3.48 at Lowe's, the same price as Sears. But if 28% becomes the norm, Lowe's will skunk Sears on pricing. I limited my comparison exercise to 3/16", since that's the one I needed. But I'll keep an eye on these trying to keep a handle on the various differences.
Continuing the comparison, there are differences in the part numbers and the features. The Sears Craftsman part has a tag marked 945802 while the Lowe's tag has several markings, none of which match the Sears part.
The Sears part is laser marked while the Lowe's part is stamped with "3/16" in easy-to-read characters. A quick, eyeballed comparison shows these characters to be nearly twice the size of earlier stampings (on otherwise comparable Craftsman pieces). I would rate the Lowe's marking as being as good or better than the laser for visibility. Sizewise, the parts are about the same, with the Lowe's piece being about 0.01" longer, almost imperceptible.
It's not clear if these differences will continue, or if maybe what I'm seeing is old stock at Sears and new stock at Lowe's. I previously stated in this thread that (I thought) Stanley had been making Craftsman for Sears, but I'm now re-thinking that. <conjecture> It may be that the differences seen here are old-supplier versus new-Stanley-supplied parts. Another thought is that stamping the sizes on the sockets presents a manufacturing cost savings, which will enable Lowe's to be more competitive. Home Depot sells their Husky version of this piece for $1.77 locally. Lowe's may get customers to step up to $2.48 for the more recognized Craftsman brand, but $3.48 - nearly twice 1.77 - can be hard to swallow. So reducing cost for Lowe's may also explain why their Craftsman pieces look different and have different part numbers. </conjecture>
It will be interesting to see if Sears eventually ends up with the same Craftsman parts, or if they continue with their slightly difference pieces. Of course, first they have to stay in business to do either