Last month, Chico's announced it plans to close 250 stores. Recently, H&M decided to shutter 160 locations. Last week, Charlotte Russe said it will close nearly 100. Of course, this is hardly a new phenomenon. In recent years, dozens of chains have concluded that a meaningful percentage of their stores are suddenly superfluous. I'm not talking about the… Continue reading Why are some retailers only now realizing they have way too many stores?
It's hardly news that the retail industry is going through significant contraction of selling space as an uptick in bankruptcies and outright liquidations forces hundreds of locations to close en masse. In addition, dozens of struggling retailers continue to shutter outlets hoping to improve profitability or avoid a similar fate. In fact, there is a… Continue reading For a growing number of retailers, small is the new black
Last week Cowen and Co. retail analyst Oliver Chen downgraded Nordstrom shares, and the stock promptly tumbled. Among the concerns he cited were declining comparable store sales at both Nordstrom's full-line department stores and the Rack off-price division. There's a real risk to misunderstanding what is really going on. One of the things were going to need… Continue reading Nordstrom and retail’s growing urgency to rethink performance metrics
For a couple of years now pundits, analysts, journalists and various other retail observers have been advancing the "retail apocalypse" narrative. A typical story or opinion piece warns of the "death of the mall," points out how "e-commerce is eating the world," and generally suggests that "traditional" retailers are toast. Alas, facts are stubborn things, as I… Continue reading These brands apparently did not get the ‘retail apocalypse’ memo
It's been a long sad slog for J.C. Penney. In 2011, after more than a decade of (at best) mediocre performance, the company brought in Ron Johnson from Apple as its new CEO. In what some saw as a bold attempt at transformation — and others saw as a misguided Hail Mary pass — retail's latest savior changed just about everything… Continue reading It’s just about time for full-on panic at J.C. Penney
Nearly two weeks ago Macy's beat quarterly sales and earnings expectations and many on Wall Street promptly lost their mind. Same story with Dillard's. Then Kohl’s followed up with a similarly surprising upside report that led some to conclude that maybe, just maybe, the long-beleaguered department store sector might be seeing a resurgence or—dare we say it out loud?—the beginning of… Continue reading Is this the beginning of a department store renaissance? Eh, not so much.
As I pointed out in my last piece, it is all too easy to be misled by high-level statistics and narratives that paint an incomplete picture of the retail landscape. Similarly, many fail to appreciate the underlying dynamics that (increasingly) separate industry winners from the losers and that which will ultimately determine when online shopping starts to… Continue reading Retail’s new fork in the road: Understanding ‘buying’ vs. ‘shopping’
With my time at the ShopTalk 2018 gathering in Las Vegas now behind me, I decided to forego my original plan to write a more detailed summary of "key" take-aways. For one thing, there are a number of excellent summaries out there already. Like this one. Or this. Or CoreSight's thorough recap of each day. Also, it's a fair amount of… Continue reading ShopTalk 2018: Lessons in hope, reality and denial
It may make for intriguing headlines, but physical retail is clearly not dead. Far from it, in fact. But, to be sure, boring, undifferentiated, irrelevant and unremarkable stores are most definitely dead, dying or moving perilously close to the edge of the precipice. While retail is going through vast disruption causing many stores to close — and quite a few… Continue reading Physical retail is not dead. Boring retail is.
As most U.S. department stores reported earnings recently, a certain level of ebullience took hold. Macy's, Kohl's and even Dillard's, for crying out loud, beat Wall Street expectations, sending their respective shares higher. J.C. Penney, which has failed to gain any real traction despite Sears' flagging fortunes, continued to disappoint, suggesting that I probably need to revisit my somewhat hopeful… Continue reading Better is not the same as good for department stores stuck in the middle