Encouraging signs for department stores as holiday season kicks off
It’s not hard to find knowledgeable retail industry watchers who will cast doubt on the long-term viability of U.S. department stores. Heck, Michael Ward, chief of Harrods, recently said his American department store counterparts were in the process of committing “suicide” as they seem unable to come up with new ideas or products to appeal to consumers.
While much of the shade directed at department stores is deserved, Kohl’s, J.C. Penney and Macy’s have seen some encouraging signs for their businesses in the days since Thanksgiving, according to reports.
Kohl’s entered the holiday season with a sense of optimism. The chain, which managed to post a 0.1 percent increase in same-store sales despite having to shut some 100 locations temporarily due to hurricanes in the third quarter, has already raised its full-year outlook ahead of the Black Friday weekend. Kohl’s said sales on Thanksgiving set records both in its stores and online. The chain is gaining traction with its buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) service with about 40 percent more orders fulfilled on Black Friday this year compared to 2016.
J.C. Penney reported increased traffic to jcp.com with visits to the site reaching their highest single-day level on Thanksgiving. Store traffic was aided by the appeal of Sephora shops, according to a note by Cowen and Co. analyst Oliver Chen, reported by CNBC.
Macy’s, which took some heat in social media as some customers were unable to have their credits cards processed, benefitted from cold weather in the Northeast as consumers went online and visited stores to buy winter clothing. The chain expects to sell more than one million coats during the holiday season.
- Black Friday boosts battered department stores, some of which are claiming a ‘record’ weekend – CNBC
- US department stores are killing themselves by not innovating, Harrods chief says – CNBC
- Kohl’s Foot Traffic Crushed It This Weekend – Forbes
- J.C. Penney delivers good Black Friday news – Dallas Business Journal
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you expect department stores, as a whole, will perform better this holiday season than they did in 2016? If so, to what do you attribute the improved performance? Which chains give you the most reason for optimism?