cheap custom polos Shoppers depart department stores
But will it? Analysts who study department stores say the downturn may prove too severe for some companies. Penney, Kohl and Sears; and regional chains Bon Ton and Belk.
Over the next few weeks, the category will report substantially weaker fourth quarter earnings. Its share of total retail sales has been shrinking since the 1980s. Together, the top 10 chains had sales of about $110 billion last year, about one fourth of Wal Mart total.
As a group, department stores posted nine consecutive monthly sales declines through January and are forecast to post a 10.8 percent decline in February, said analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.
There also a danger that customers hooked on discounts and learning to live with less may not return to their old ways.
know that shoppers are avoiding certain retail space to avoid temptations, and malls are at the top of that list, said Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail. it temporary? It could be two years. In a WSL survey, 55 percent said they are shopping less at the mall.
Once the recession hit in late 2007, it put the kibosh on phenomenal sales growth at luxury and upscale chains from Neiman Marcus to Nordstrom, said Kelly Tackett, a senior consultant at TNS Retail Forward.
It also deflated momentum in the other department stores, some of which had spruced up their home departments. Penney introduced Polo Ralph Lauren American Living brand, and Macy featured Martha Stewart exclusives.
The downturn was more than Mervyn and Goody could bear. They ended operations last year.
The department store never materialized, Tackett said.
High end hurting the most
Now each store has its own issues, she said. has been the hardest hit with the aspirational shopper cutting back. Macy is still trying to benefit from its national scale. Penney and Kohl Retailing expert Paco Underhill asks: that we have national department store Macy everywhere, instead of the regional department stores, who is going to know the customer? There are dresses flying off the rack in Dallas that no one will take into a dressing room in Philadelphia. Macy focus has been operational, and can only cost cut for so long, Tackett said. Traffic building initiatives, including more localization with a My Macy effort, have done well in tests.
It not all about the recession. footholds such as H Mango and Zara, Underhill said. do trendy merchandise quickly. It a new category of disposable clothing. Meeting different demands
Department stores need to focus more on stuff we wear Monday through Friday, Underhill said. also need to answer why their sweater costs $162 and that one costs $29. The reason can be the label on the inside. Luxury needs to stop organizing stores the egos of their vendors, he said. you in for a little black dress, you shouldn have to go through several couture shops. Your 12 and 14 size shouldn be hidden in the back, if it in the store at all. Longtime department store suppliers see a need to build their own relationships with shoppers.
Watch and accessories maker Fossil Inc., ironically, was founded to fill a void for fashion watches at department stores. Now it is cultivating its own consumer business as retailers close stores.
Est Lauder, once the most protected department store cosmetics brand, sells directly to consumers online.
The traditional department store cosmetics and fragrance business has lost its long standing dominance, Corlett said.
don think they stand a chance up against Sephora and MAC. They still spritzing people walking by.
Since 2006, Penney has been adding Sephora shops inside its stores, and recently Macy said it will add Lush shops.
Shopping patterns change
The ability to be outfitted from head to toe under one roof is no longer an advantage, Corlett said. a society that builds it as we go. People like to mix it up, mix up looks, price points, brands and designers. Camille Blankenship left a Macy in Dallas recently with a pair of Ralph Lauren black leather ankle boots that had been marked down several times to $38.
Her complaint is that too much there. Before Christmas, she was shopping for a skirt. She left Macy and went to Steinmart, where the petite department is smaller. She found the skirt for $30.