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JC Penney Sticking For Equality

June 5, 2012

The conservative anti-gay group One Million Moms (OMM) is back at it again -- and it’s no surprise the organization is targeting JC Penney. This time OMM has a problem with the department store’s Father’s Days ad, which features two dads and their children, ABC news reported.

 

The ad’s text says: "What makes Dad so cool? He’s the swim coach, tent maker, best friend, bike fixer and hug giver - all rolled into one. Or two." The photo shows real-life dads Todd Koch and Cooper Smith with their kids.

 

OMM, which most likely does not consist of one million moms, was extremely upset about the company’s ad and fired off a statement condemning JC Penney.

 

"It’s obvious that JCP would rather take sides than remain neutral in the culture war," OMM writes. "JCP will hear from the other side, so they need to hear from us as well. Our persistence will pay off! One day we will answer for our actions or lack of them. We must remain diligent and stand up for Biblical values and truth. Scripture says multiple times that homosexuality is wrong, and God will not tolerate this sinful nature."

 

The group has now started another boycott against the department store.

 

Back in May, OMM attacked the company’s ad for including lesbian moms in its Mother’s Day catalog. The organization resorted to their old tactics and asked their supporters to call and visit their local JC Penney store and complain to the store manager.

 

"Local managers are more likely to listen to your concerns and pass them along to the corporate office," the group says in a statement.

 

Additionally, OMM made national headlines in February when it called for a boycott of the department store after it hired comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres as its spokeswoman.

 

"Funny that JC Penney thinks hiring an open homosexual spokesperson will help their business when most of their customers are traditional families," the million (or so) moms write on their website. "DeGeneres is not a true representation of the type of families that shop at their store. The majority of JC Penney shoppers will be offended and choose to no longer shop there."

 

The group admitted defeat, however, in early March and called off the boycott and announced that it would no longer focus on getting DeGeneres fired and is moving on to other issues.

"But we have heard back from so many of our members," Monica Cole of One Million Moms said. "We have heard back from men and women -- not just moms -- saying they will no longer shop there at JC Penney, as long as Ellen DeGeneres is their spokesperson."

JC Penney spokesman Joseph Thomas talked to ABC News about the controversial issue.

 

"In celebration of Father’s Day, we’re proud that our June book honors men from diverse backgrounds who all share the joy of fatherhood," he said in an email.

 

A Joe My God reader emailed JC Penney and applauded the company for its stance on equality and received a heartwarming response.

 

"Dear JCP, I love you guys. I have never been into a JC Penney store, but after seeing your ad with Cooper Smith and Todd Koch and their kids ... well, you guys rock. I will find something to buy, just to say thank you!! sincerely, mike."

 

The clothing company responded back and said: "Dear Mike, Thank you for sharing with me your very valuable feedback. As a company founded on ’The Golden Rule,’ we consider it our top priority to treat each customer as we would like to be treated. Fair and Square. We are in the process of dreaming up new ways to make you love shopping with us and your comments help us move one step closer to becoming your favorite store! Hope you have a great weekend! Sincerely, Chris, Customer Care Representative."

 

For more information: http://www.edgenewengland.com/index.php?ch=news&sc=&sc2=news&sc3=&id=133769


Austin Grocery Retailers: The Ban of Disposable Bags

March 21, 2012

Although the Austin City Council passed one of the broadest bag bans in the nation early Friday , a few details remain to be ironed out.

 

Among them is what the penalties will be for refusing to comply with the law, which will prohibit retailers from offering single-use paper and plastic bags at all retail checkout counters starting in March 2013 . Penalties and details about who will enforce the ban will be worked out over the next few months, said Jennifer Herber , a spokeswoman for Austin Resource Recovery , the city's trash and recycling department.

 

Only retailers, not customers, will face penalties, she said.

 

The council also asked staffers to explore creating an "emergency option" that would allow shoppers who forget their reusable bags to pay a fee for disposable bags so that they aren't forced to buy more reusable bags. It's not clear exactly how that would work or whether it would simply become a loophole for customers to continue getting disposable bags.

 

Before and after the ban takes effect, the city plans to do a $2 million education campaign to alert shoppers to the change and remind them to bring reusable bags.

 

The council decided not to enact a fee on disposable bags before the ban takes effect. An interim fee had been discussed as a way to help shoppers and retailers begin to change their habits and prepare for a ban.

 

Austin is the first big Texas city to pass a bag ban. More than two dozen U.S. cities have bag laws, most of them prohibiting plastic bags and imposing a fee on paper.

 

"This is about Austin reclaiming its position as the national leader in environmental protection," said Rick Cofer , vice chairman of the city's Zero Waste Advisory Commission, who has pushed for a ban for five years. "This ordinance is forward-looking. It may have taken a few years, but we got it right."

 

The City Council came close to enacting a ban a few years ago but held off when a few big retailers agreed to try to voluntarily reduce the plastic bags they offer. Council members have said that program wasn't effective enough, and they asked city staffers last summer to begin writing up a ban.

 

Friday's vote came at about 2 a.m. , after a daylong council meeting. It was unanimous, even though a few council members recently had expressed reservations about the details of the ban, including the idea of prohibiting paper bags as well as plastic.

 

Austin retailers will still be able to offer reusable bags, defined as those made of cloth or durable materials, or thicker paper or plastic bags that have handles. Retailers will decide whether to charge for those bags, though most probably will because such bags tend to be costlier to make.

 

Exempt from the ban will be single-use bags for bulk foods, meat, fish, produce, newspaper delivery, dry cleaning and restaurant carryout foods, and bags that charities and nonprofits use to distribute food and other items.

 

During months of debate, members of the plastics industry argued that thin plastic bags can be easily recycled and reused, such as for lining trash cans and picking up pet waste. But city leaders said the bags often end up as litter or landfill trash and cause environmental harm. Activists urged the City Council to ban single-use paper bags as well, saying they take more energy to make and transport.

 

The Texas Retailers Association was the most vocal opponent of a ban, saying it would discourage retailers from continuing robust programs they've built to accept plastic bags and plastic packaging for recycling, meaning more of those goods could end up in landfills.

 

In recent weeks, ban opponents have urged the city to pursue a program that will allow Austin residents to put plastic bags in their curbside recycling carts. Currently, the city accepts paper but not plastic bags through its curbside collection and recycling program because plastic bags can damage recycling machinery.

 

Austin Resource Recovery Director Bob Gedert said adding plastic bags to the curbside program would be costly and difficult to carry out. He also said Austin should focus on reducing the number of plastic bags in circulation, not simply on continuing to make and recycle them.

 

About a dozen people stuck around late Thursday and early Friday to offer the council their thoughts on the ban; most were in favor of it.

 

"It's time for you folks to make history and take a huge step in cleaning up your community," said Robin Schneider , executive director of the nonprofit Texas Campaign for the Environment .

 

Chris Bailey told the council a ban could have unintended consequences.

 

"People act like the solution is to just create a crime out of an everyday activity, and all of a sudden, it will go away," he said. "You're trying to modify behavior by creating a punishment for it, and this has not been shown to work. ... I think common sense is being neglected here."

 

scoppola@statesman.com; 912-2939

Basics of the ban
Austin retailers will no longer be able to offer thin, so-called single-use paper and plastic bags starting in March 2013 .Retailers will offer only reusable bags made of cloth or durable materials, or thicker paper or plastic bags that have handles.Exemptions will include disposable bags used for bulk foods, meat, fish, produce, dry cleaning, newspaper delivery and restaurant carryout foods.

 

 

For more information, visit: http://www.statesman.com/news/local/austin-bag-ban-means-penalties-for-retailers-that-2213031.html?cxtype=rss_news&viewAsSinglePage=true


JCPenney--predicted to be one of the most interesting retailers in 2012

February 13, 2012

J.C. Penney just blew up its brand — in a good way — thanks to a new management team with some radical new ideas. J.C. Penney is about to be the most interesting retail story of the year.

 

Late last year, J.C. Penney began building a dream team with Ron Johnson — the man who launched Apple‘s retail stores — as its new CEO. Johnson cut his retail teeth at Target and from there he poached Michael Francis to serve as J.C. Penney’s new president. Francis is largely responsible for Target’s branding and marketing efforts.

 

And this week, Johnson took a sledgehammer to the J.C. Penney way of doing business. It’s the most exciting thing I’ve seen in retail since Apple opened stores, again with Johson at the the helm.

 

There’s a new logo, new spokesperson, new pricing stategy, an investment in Martha Stewart Omnimedia and another designer partnership with Nanette Lepore. All in two short months.

 

 

J.C. Penney — now being referred to as jcpenney — is implementing a new pricing strategy, slashing prices up to 40% with to keep them that way year round. Not EDLP, this fair pricing strategy is designed to keep prices low on the basics shoppers look for frequently and introduce new merchandise on a routine schedule.

 

“We want customers to shop on their terms, not ours,” said Johnson. “By setting our store monthly and maintaining our best prices for an entire month, we feel confident that customers will love shopping when it is convenient for them, rather than when it is expedient for us.”

 

It’s a shocking move for any retailer, let alone a department store where hi-low pricing and promotions have long been the norm.

 

There will also be an entirely new layout, with brands merchandised in shops within the store rather than endless racks and runs of shelves. There aren’t many new ways to display merchandise and any effort to re-invent the in-store experience will be welcome with shoppers and provide a reason to buy in stores, rather than looking for bargains online.

 

“The department store is the number one opportunity in retail today. We are going to rethink every aspect of our business, boldly pursue change, and create long-term shareholder value, as we become America’s favorite store,” Johnson said. “Every initiative we pursue will be guided by our core value to treat customers as we would like to be treated – fair and square.”

 

The new logo is meant to evoke the American Flag, a move likely to resonate with today’s shoppers and set it apart from the rest of the retail pack.

 

Most retailers make tentative steps toward change. They take a year to develop a new store format, reconfigure a layout or commission a logo. Then they test it, refine it and test it again. It can take years to roll out changes to a large store base and often before that happens, the plan changes again.

But Johnson is anything but typical. Changes begin on Feb. 1 and  in August jcpenney will begin updating all stores with new merchandise and presentations, adding two to three shops each month through 2015 in what management is calling a complete transformation.

 

It’s refreshing, daring and probably exactly what the retailer needs. It’s probably what a lot of retailers need but few have the leadership and support to do it.

 

For more information, visit: http://www.forbes.com/sites/lauraheller/2012/01/26/why-jcpenney-will-be-the-most-interesting-retailer-of-2012/

 


JCPenney--predicted to be one of the most interesting retailers in 2012

February 13, 2012

J.C. Penney just blew up its brand — in a good way — thanks to a new management team with some radical new ideas. J.C. Penney is about to be the most interesting retail story of the year.

Late last year, J.C. Penney began building a dream team with Ron Johnson — the man who launched Apple‘s retail stores — as its new CEO. Johnson cut his retail teeth at Target and from there he poached Michael Francis to serve as J.C. Penney’s new president. Francis is largely responsible for Target’s branding and marketing efforts.

And this week, Johnson took a sledgehammer to the J.C. Penney way of doing business. It’s the most exciting thing I’ve seen in retail since Apple opened stores, again with Johson at the the helm.

 There’s a new logo, new spokesperson, new pricing stategy, an investment in Martha Stewart Omnimedia and another designer partnership with Nanette Lepore. All in two short months.

 

J.C. Penney — now being referred to as jcpenney — is implementing a new pricing strategy, slashing prices up to 40% with to keep them that way year round. Not EDLP, this fair pricing strategy is designed to keep prices low on the basics shoppers look for frequently and introduce new merchandise on a routine schedule.

“We want customers to shop on their terms, not ours,” said Johnson. “By setting our store monthly and maintaining our best prices for an entire month, we feel confident that customers will love shopping when it is convenient for them, rather than when it is expedient for us.”

It’s a shocking move for any retailer, let alone a department store where hi-low pricing and promotions have long been the norm.

There will also be an entirely new layout, with brands merchandised in shops within the store rather than endless racks and runs of shelves. There aren’t many new ways to display merchandise and any effort to re-invent the in-store experience will be welcome with shoppers and provide a reason to buy in stores, rather than looking for bargains online.

“The department store is the number one opportunity in retail today. We are going to rethink every aspect of our business, boldly pursue change, and create long-term shareholder value, as we become America’s favorite store,” Johnson said. “Every initiative we pursue will be guided by our core value to treat customers as we would like to be treated – fair and square.”

The new logo is meant to evoke the American Flag, a move likely to resonate with today’s shoppers and set it apart from the rest of the retail pack.

Most retailers make tentative steps toward change. They take a year to develop a new store format, reconfigure a layout or commission a logo. Then they test it, refine it and test it again. It can take years to roll out changes to a large store base and often before that happens, the plan changes again.

But Johnson is anything but typical. Changes begin on Feb. 1 and  in August jcpenney will begin updating all stores with new merchandise and presentations, adding two to three shops each month through 2015 in what management is calling a complete transformation.

It’s refreshing, daring and probably exactly what the retailer needs. It’s probably what a lot of retailers need but few have the leadership and support to do it.

 

For more information, visit: http://www.forbes.com/sites/lauraheller/2012/01/26/why-jcpenney-will-be-the-most-interesting-retailer-of-2012/


How Are You Retaining Customers?

February 13, 2012

Love just isn't enough anymore. In brand relationships, good customer service, high customer satisfaction and even professed brand loyalty won't keep consumers from ditching a product for the competition. In fact, more than half of U.S. consumers did so last year.

 

A global study by Accenture found that even though consumers are more satisfied with customer service than ever before, they are switching brands at a high rate.

 

The survey, conducted over the web in September and October 2011, queried more than 10,000 consumers to measure customer satisfaction across key attributes in 10 different industries. It found that while satisfaction increased for all those service attributes, an astounding two-thirds of respondents -- 66% -- reported they switched brands in the past year because of a bad customer experience. While the U.S.-only percentage of switchers was lower in 2011, at 51%, it is still significant and an increase over the previous year.

 

"Switching is something that's here to stay, said Robert Wollan, global managing director, Accenture customer relationship management. "Consumers have become accustomed to switching when the service or product isn't meeting their needs."

 

What is new is the big uptick in satisfaction, with increases ranging from 5% to 7% in one year, depending on the category. Consumers are happier, for instance, with shorter wait times (33% are satisfied compared to 27% last year); the ability to solve issues without having to speak to someone (38% satisfied, up from 33%); and the ability to resolve an issue by speaking to just one person (39% compared to 32%).

 

So what's going on -- shouldn't happier customers mean more loyal customers? Not necessarily. About one-fourth (24%) of consumers characterize themselves as brand loyal, while an almost equal number (23%) describe themselves as having no loyalty at all. As Mr. Wollan pointed out, not only are consumers now used to switching brands, there is a third factor on the increase that may also help explain the trend: the rise in customer expectation.

 

About 44% said they expect more, or much more, than they did last year from the brands with which they do business. In 2008, 31% said they expected more than the year before.

 

"We think the attributes we ask about -- wait times and talking to just one person to resolve issues -- have become table stakes," Mr. Wollan said.

 

Today's savvy digital customers expect polite and knowledgeable employees or convenient customer-service hours. And while they appreciate and are satisfied with those things, it's not going to stop them from taking their business elsewhere.

 

Also on the rise is partial switching, defined as when a consumer keeps a brand, but also adds another in the same category, such as buying a second mobile phone from a different provider. Partial switching in 2011 increased in all 10 industries Accenture tracks, from retail and consumer electronics to travel and tourism and banking. That's not only lost business, but more importantly, a loyalty lapse that opens a door to a new brand.

 

For more information, visit: http://adage.com/article/news/brand-love-satisfaction-shoppers-faithful/232680/


How Are You Retaining Customers?

February 13, 2012

Love just isn't enough anymore. In brand relationships, good customer service, high customer satisfaction and even professed brand loyalty won't keep consumers from ditching a product for the competition. In fact, more than half of U.S. consumers did so last year.

A global study by Accenture found that even though consumers are more satisfied with customer service than ever before, they are switching brands at a high rate.

The survey, conducted over the web in September and October 2011, queried more than 10,000 consumers to measure customer satisfaction across key attributes in 10 different industries. It found that while satisfaction increased for all those service attributes, an astounding two-thirds of respondents -- 66% -- reported they switched brands in the past year because of a bad customer experience. While the U.S.-only percentage of switchers was lower in 2011, at 51%, it is still significant and an increase over the previous year.

"Switching is something that's here to stay, said Robert Wollan, global managing director, Accenture customer relationship management. "Consumers have become accustomed to switching when the service or product isn't meeting their needs."

What is new is the big uptick in satisfaction, with increases ranging from 5% to 7% in one year, depending on the category. Consumers are happier, for instance, with shorter wait times (33% are satisfied compared to 27% last year); the ability to solve issues without having to speak to someone (38% satisfied, up from 33%); and the ability to resolve an issue by speaking to just one person (39% compared to 32%).

So what's going on -- shouldn't happier customers mean more loyal customers? Not necessarily. About one-fourth (24%) of consumers characterize themselves as brand loyal, while an almost equal number (23%) describe themselves as having no loyalty at all. As Mr. Wollan pointed out, not only are consumers now used to switching brands, there is a third factor on the increase that may also help explain the trend: the rise in customer expectation.

About 44% said they expect more, or much more, than they did last year from the brands with which they do business. In 2008, 31% said they expected more than the year before.

"We think the attributes we ask about -- wait times and talking to just one person to resolve issues -- have become table stakes," Mr. Wollan said.

Today's savvy digital customers expect polite and knowledgeable employees or convenient customer-service hours. And while they appreciate and are satisfied with those things, it's not going to stop them from taking their business elsewhere.

Also on the rise is partial switching, defined as when a consumer keeps a brand, but also adds another in the same category, such as buying a second mobile phone from a different provider. Partial switching in 2011 increased in all 10 industries Accenture tracks, from retail and consumer electronics to travel and tourism and banking. That's not only lost business, but more importantly, a loyalty lapse that opens a door to a new brand.

 

For more information, visit: http://adage.com/article/news/brand-love-satisfaction-shoppers-faithful/232680/


Renovating Wal-Mart But Keeping Customer Loyalty

June 9, 2009

The bad times have been good for Wal-Mart Stores, and on Friday, the retailer’s new chief executive said he expected sales to continue to be strong, even after the economy rebounds.

“Our customers will stay with us when this economy turns around and they have more discretionary money to spend,” Michael T. Duke, the president and chief executive of Wal-Mart, told attendees at his first shareholder meeting since taking the helm this year. “We are building long-term loyalty to Wal-Mart.”

Like some other retailing executives, Mr. Duke says he thinks the recession has prompted a fundamental change in consumer behavior — a “new normal” in which people are concerned about saving money.

If true, that bodes well for Wal-Mart, which has built its reputation on low prices.

Wal-Mart’s profit was flat for the three months that ended April 30 — $3.02 billion, or 77 cents a share, compared with the same $3.02 billion, or 76 cents a share, a year ago. Still, its sales at stores open at least a year have outperformed competitors, including its primary rival, Target. During the shareholder meeting, which began promptly at 7 a.m., the actor Ben Stiller, the meeting’s host, quipped, “I hear they’re still sleeping at Target.”

Separately, Wal-Mart announced that it would start a new $15 billion program to repurchase shares. The news sent shares of Wal-Mart up 20 cents, to $51.07.

Media tours of Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores on Thursday offered some details about how the retailer planned to hold onto its new customers.

Executives said a new store design and remodeling plan would make Wal-Mart stores more pleasant. They also plan to expand thriving departments, like food and electronics.

The most popular items that families buy — groceries, health and beauty goods, pet products and baby products — will be located on the same side of the store, so customers do not have to trek from one end to another. Shelves will no longer be stacked so high, so stores will feel airier and easier to navigate.

There will be more signs pointing out the low prices of items, wider aisles without freestanding product displays, and, in general, fewer brands so consumers are not overwhelmed by 25 different kinds of toothpaste.

The electronics department — a hit with consumers who want brand names at low prices — will be expanded and will offer more hands-on products so consumers can test technology like portable electronics and Blu-ray players. Also, electronics departments will be located on the back wall of stores so consumers see a wall of sleek TVs when they enter.

The food and produce area, which has helped increase sales in this economy, will also be expanded. Signs that say “fresh” will be near store entrances, along with the take-out food, deli and bakery areas so consumers can dash in and out if they want to. That could cut down on browsing and impulse purchases. But executives said the changes were a response to consumer research.

In a question and answer session after Friday’s shareholder meeting, Eduardo Castro-Wright, Wal-Mart’s vice chairman, said the retailer would retain its new customers by doing what it had been doing the last few years: making its stores friendlier and cleaner, and speeding up the check-out process.

Wal-Mart’s annual shareholder gatherings are spectacles: part vaudeville show, part revival meeting. Smokey Robinson, Miley Cyrus, and this year’s American Idol winner, Kris Allen, performed. The basketball player Michael Jordan spoke. On Wednesday night, Wal-Mart invited store employees from all over the world to concerts by the rock group Foreigner and by Chris Daughtry, a former American Idol contestant.

Amid the hubbub, the retailer said it was beginning an initiative to help promote women at Wal-Mart. Mr. Duke said he was “still not satisfied with our progress to date.”

Wal-Mart also used the meeting to highlight its entry into Chile with D&S, a major grocery chain. Additionally, executives said the retailer would continue using its size to achieve supply-chain efficiencies, recruit top talent and continue down the path toward environmental sustainability, a legacy of its former chief executive, H. Lee Scott Jr.

“Yes, sustainability was personal for Lee,” Mr. Duke said during the question-and-answer session, “but it’s personal for me.”

Wal-Mart surpassed $400 billion in sales for the first time during its last fiscal year. But Mr. Duke’s overriding message on Friday was typical of Wal-Mart’s approach to its business.

“This is not a time to take comfort in our success,” he said. “This is Wal-Mart’s time to look to the future and seize the opportunity to truly lead around the world.”

For further information, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/06/business/economy/06walmart.html


Aeropostale Heading Towards Success During the Recession

June 9, 2009

While most members of the U.S. retail industry are focused on cutbacks and survival tactics, Aeropostale continues to defy the recession and post numbers that would be impressive even in the best of economic conditions. The teen apparel chain has been killing its competition, topping the same store sales charts, and rocking Wall Street investors with a 40% rise in stock prices since the recession officially began.

U.S. retailers aren’t the only ones asking how Aeropostale is doing it, and stock analysts aren’t the only ones wondering how long the winning streak will last.

Aeropostale’s CEO, Julian Geiger actually seems very eager to tell people how they do what they do. In an interview with Business Week way back in 2004, Geiger very openly revealed the company’s marketing tactics, which are relentless and somewhat unconventional for an apparel retailer. Specifically, Geiger revealed that the Aeropostale marketing team employs these strategies:

* Following trends instead of trying to be a trendsetter

* Looking at what’s on the backs of their target market, instead of what’s on the sales floors of their competitors

* Observing teens in theme parks, concerts, and airports instead of observing them on the streets of international fashion cities

* Allowing teens to view potential new styles, and stocking stores with the teens’ favorites

* Using 50 locations as test stores where new merchandise and merchandising is tried out prior to system-wide rollout

* Remembering that most teens are fashion followers, not fashion leaders

Either Aeropostale’s competitors didn’t read that interview or, if they did, they weren’t savvy enough to realize the brilliance hidden within the simplicity of the approach.

While cutting edge manufacturing, distribution, and operations management are supporting its success, there’s one timeless retailing principle that’s really the driving force behind the Aeropostale chain. That is, the customers get what they want.

This simple tenet is quite antithetical to the more popular marketing approach of working really hard to convince customers to want what you have, which is a strategy, by the way, that isn’t working very well for any retailer right now. In contrast, Aeropostale has discovered that when you ask teenagers what they want to spend their money on, and then you make those things available, the kids actually bring their money to your store. How radical!

Aeropostale works hard to engage consumers in other ways besides marketing research. This year the store bonded with its youthful customer base at an emotional level with its “Teens for Jeans” charity project. More than 200,000 pairs of “gently used” jeans were gathered and donated by teen customers to be redistributed to their homeless peers. The project was green, it was activist, it was compassionate, and it was the perfect hip program for the store to insert itself into. With its active participation in the project, Aeropostale gave a human dimension to its brand that advertising dollars and publicity hype could never manufacture.

The Aeropostale we see today is miles away from it where it began, as a small department within the Macy’s chain in the 1980’s. After spinning off and floundering, Aeropostale was rescued from obscurity by Geiger, who defined the brand, built the chain’s identity, and gave Aeropostale a unique selling proposition that is clearly uniquely appealing to its niche. It would be great if its birth parent chain could reinvent itself in a similar way.

In June Aeropostale is bucking the recession again, by opening up a new concept store, P.S. Aeropostale, which is really just a younger version of itself. The new stores are aimed at the 7-12 year olds who have been shadowing their older siblings through the Aeropostale stores, but leaving empty-handed. While moms have worked hard to ignore the whines of their younger children, Aeropostale has worked hard to listen to them, and create a whole store based on their pleadings. If the chain continues to employ its own successful strategies with these spinoff concept stores, there will undoubtedly be a second reason for investors to be happy, and for retailers to shake their heads in wonder.

All of this because customers are getting what customers want? It’s hard to believe that it could really be that simple. Perhaps somewhere along the way retailing got more complicated than it ever really needed to be.


The End Of May Results For Retail

June 5, 2009

Macy’s Inc. reported a 9.1 percent drop in same-store sales in May, as consumers continued to put off unnecessary spending.

The Cincinnati-based department store chain said sales at stores open at least a year are in line with management expectations. Total sales declined to $1.7 billion from $1.9 billion a year ago, or 9.5 percent.

For the year, Macy’s said its same-store sales declined by 9.1 percent, with total sales down 9.5 percent, to $6.9 billion from $7.7 billion.

Macy’s, like most retailers, has been struggling to attract parsimonious shoppers while not giving away the store through deep discounts, a strategy that erodes profit margins. But recent reports regarding rising manufacturing activity and home sales gave a lift to retail stocks earlier in the week, based on hopes that consumers may be encouraged to go out and splurge on a few summer items.

Total May retail sales were projected to drop by 3.6 percent, according to Retail Metrics, a Massachusetts firm that tracks store sales. This compares with a 2.7 percent decline in April. Department stores were forecast to post the weakest results, down 8.5 percent, with “discretionary spending still in hiding,” according to its monthly report.

The retailer has projected full-year profits of 40 cents to 55 cents per share, excluding restructuring costs stemming from its companywide reorganization, part of its My Macy’s merchandising program. That said, Macy’s hedged that it will beat this guidance if the economy improves in the second half of the year. Annual sales, it has said, are expected to decline by 6 percent to 8 percent, with spring expected to be weaker than the fall, in part due to stronger performances last spring.

Macy’s operates roughly 845 department stores under the names Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s.

Other retailers reporting recent sales figures:

• Target Corp. said its May same-store sales fell 6.1 percent from the same month a year ago. Total sales, at $4.56 billion, were down 2.3 percent from May 2008. Target has consistently posted monthly same-store sales declines during the recession, as consumers have pulled back their spending on clothes, home furnishings and some of the other discretionary items that had boosted the company’s sales during better times.

• Kohl’s Corp. said its comparable store sales in May decreased by 0.4 percent and total sales increased 4.1 percent, better than management had expected. The Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based retailer (NYSE: KSS) said Thursday sales for the four-week month ending May 31 were $1.26 billion, compared with $1.21 billion in the same period of 2008. Year-to-date sales also are ahead of 2008 at $4.9 billion, compared with $4.8 billion in 2008, an increase of 1.3 percent. Comparable store sales year-to-date decreased 3.2 percent, Kohl’s said.

• Gap Inc. said that its comparable-store sales were down 6 percent year over year in May, and net sales were down 5 percent to $1.03 billion. Gap North American and Banana Republic were hit the hardest in comparable-store sales — going down 11 percent and 14 percent, respectively. International sales were down 7 percent. Old Navy was the one Gap brand that saw an increase — It was up 3 percent.

For further information, visit: http://www.bizjournals.com/louisville/stories/2009/06/01/daily36.html


Post-Recession: Luxury Clothing Sustainability

June 3, 2009

A smaller, stronger core of luxury — and fashion-forward — firms is likely to emerge from the recession, according to a new survey.

New York-based Abrams Research polled more than 100 luxury-industry experts — executives, designers, buyers, editors and bloggers, among others — and 36.8 percent said the luxury sector would evolve to a more streamlined but strengthened model, with 34.9 percent expressing confidence that aspirational consumers would be a key component.

“This has everything to do with how these brands are facing the challenge of marketing themselves through new channels, like social media,” said Dan Abrams, chief executive officer of Abrams Research, who also is chief legal analyst for NBC and MSNBC.

Respondents were asked to name retail and fashion brands that were best-positioned to thrive and were given the option of selecting as many as three brands.

Topshop ranked first, with 34.1 percent of those surveyed naming it as a brand that will flourish. It was followed by Chanel, 28 percent; Louis Vuitton, 21.9 percent; Forever 21, H&M and Marc Jacobs, all tied at 13.4 percent; Hermès, with 7.3 percent, and J. Crew, 6.1 percent. Other brands that got traction included Cartier, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Rolex, Tiffany & Co., Diane von Furstenberg and Prada.

“There is a huge contrast between these top brands, and you see it within the top two names: It’s Topshop versus Chanel,” Abrams said. “These brands represent two business strategies that can survive the recession. You either stick with discount prices and strategically market your products, or you stay true to your loyal fan base and don’t compromise the quality of your goods, so as not to dilute your brand.”

Shopping brands online that respondents felt were best-positioned to thrive were: Net-a-porter; 33.7 percent; Gilt Groupe, 15.7 percent; neimanmarcus.com, 8.9 percent; barneys.com, 6.7 percent, and Eluxury.com, 6.7 percent. “The broad lesson here is that the luxury-brand community knows they have to make themselves relevant online,” Abrams said. “So how far do they go without losing that sense of exclusivity?”

The survey asked how the Internet will best be used by luxury brands for marketing and advertising. The results: 34 percent ranked “innovative advertising” as the most effective tool, including mini Web movies on brands’ sites — such as those that have been featured on gucci.com and tods.com. Partnerships with influential fashion-luxury bloggers followed with 27.4 percent and use of social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, 13.2 percent. And 13.2 percent of respondents also said distribution beyond high-end sites, such as neimanmarcus.com, to lower price-point sites, like Zappos.com, would be an effective tool for luxury brands.

“As marketing through social media moves to the forefront for many businesses, I think a lot of luxury brands are now saying, ‘How do we get ourselves on Twitter? Do we really want to be there? Does that cheapen us?’ ” Abrams said. “Brands need to figure out a way to still be exclusive within the social media platforms, because it’s an enormous marketing opportunity.” For further information, visit: http://www.wwd.com/business-news/retail-stocks-extend-gains-rise-15-percent-tuesday-2155407#/article/retail-news/after-the-recession-the-look-of-luxury-2155374?navSection=business-news