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Yesterday my son (who’s been investing in stocks since he was 14 years old) and I discussed the future of Macys. A stock he owned.
He asked me if I knew 3 years ago that Macys would be having trouble. I answered yes. Retail stores in general are sweating a very uphill climb. Of course there are exceptions, but for the most part anyone and everyone from boutiques to giant department stores are feeling the pressure.
American Apparel and The Limited are closing stores. Neiman Marcus is up for sale. Macys and JC Penny are reducing locations. The iconic store Saks Jandel of Washington DC is closing after 128 years in business.
Gap CEO Art Peck stated. “I’m sure you see the public data and you could tell that traffic continues to be tough. We have seen a pretty consistent [traffic downturn] of about 3% a year and now it has gone deeper than that. Sometimes we see deeper than that. The public data would say that February started out significantly deeper than that due to a number of things, not the least of which was the holiday shift.”
How’s that for optimism?
But OK. We all know the doom and gloom of what is happening, but here is the bottom line. I haven’t seen anyone naked or shoeless yet (at least not on the street). In fact, many people have built huge closets to house all the fashion apparel they own.
The truth is people are buying and they are buying a lot.
They are just buying differently. If stores want to drive consumers into their stores and get them spending money, they have to come up with new ways to entice them.
It’s time to think outside the box. Time to be creative.
The future of retail isn’t bleak it is just different.
What we as an industry have to do is channel the public’s love for good fashion in ways that bring them back into the stores. We need to make the experience fun and exciting again. We need to bring back the sparkle in their eyes.
I have no doubt that smart retailers will get this right. And will be the new winners.
It just may be that the age old names we all have on the tips of our tongues will be forgotten.
If so, so be it.
Just make sure your brand isn’t depending on them for survival!

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Maria Pesin

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