Macy’s Cans Gift Wrapping Department

Discussion
Mar 03, 2010
George Anderson

By George Anderson

If you’re looking to buy a gift in Seattle and have it wrapped, Macy’s may
no longer be your store of choice. The chain has confirmed it is doing
away with its gift wrapping departments in the city.

Macy’s spokesperson Jim Sluzewski told The Seattle Times, “Demand
for gift-wrapping is not what it once was. There was a time not long ago when
you never heard about gifts in bags. Now, in fact, gift bags are the primary
vehicle.”

The department store chain has been eliminating gift wrapping departments
from its stores across the country for three years. While it will no longer
wrap gifts for consumers, it is expanding its selection of gift bags for sale
along with wrapping paper and greeting cards.

Kate Newlin, a retail consultant, said she thinks Macy’s is making a mistake
in eliminating gift wrapping because the service helps “differentiate between
going to a department store and getting that human-to-human service, vs. going
online and click-click, you’re done.”

Discussion Questions: Where do you stand on the elimination
of services such as gift wrapping in department stores? Are there other
customer services typically offered in department stores that should either
be eliminated or expanded?

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21 Comments on "Macy’s Cans Gift Wrapping Department"


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Bob Phibbs
Guest
11 years 2 months ago

Maybe your grandmother who still looks to the Yellow Pages for information used this service but for the bulk of us the departments were often out-of-sight and out-of-mind. For boutique retailers, gift wrap is still a nice touch but hardly the defining choice between going to Macy’s and going online.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
11 years 2 months ago

I don’t think that eliminating gift wrapping will hurt Macy’s, but at a time when many online retailers offer it for an extra charge, gift wrap certainly could have been a differentiator on terra firma (if Macy’s promoted it more heavily). With Macy’s touting its exclusive brands as a major point of distinction, why wouldn’t they offer branded gift wrap? Perhaps yet another missed opportunity for Macy’s to tell a relevant and consistent story.

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
11 years 2 months ago

Macy’s continues its march toward extinction. A weak assortment, challenging store layout, melange of confusing promotions are joined by “lack of services.”

It’s not like I use the gift wrapping services very often, but how nice it is to be asked! I used to be a pretty loyal Macy’s shopper. Now, I just can’t find a reason to go there. If I want to trade up, I’ll go to Nordstrom or Saks. If I want to trade down, I’ll go to Kohl’s. And of course, specialty stores await if I have a particular brand I like.

This is like watching a car accident in VERY slow motion.

Phil Rubin
Guest
11 years 2 months ago

To think back to what Macy’s was before and immediately post its LBO back in the 80s and compare it to the Macy’s of today–which as I’ve said is not at all Macy’s–is a stark and stunning contrast. This is simply another phase in the unraveling and eventual demise of one of the great success stories in US retail.

Max Goldberg
Guest
11 years 2 months ago

A gift bag is the quick way to prepare an item for gifting. Some gift bags can be just as elegant and as gift wrapping. Until reading this article, I forgot that Macy’s offered gift wrapping to its customers. If so few customers are taking advantage of this, Macy’s may be right in eliminating it. Given the choice, most consumers would probably opt for knowledgeable, friendly salespeople at Macy’s rather than having their purchases wrapped.

Marge Laney
Guest
11 years 2 months ago

It seems that all we talk about lately is how retailers must connect with their customers by adding value and giving customers a reason to shop in their stores to survive. The little touches that make customers feel special and appreciated are what builds loyalty, not discounts. Retailers should not do away with these little perks; instead they should market them as a differentiator. Macy’s should take a page out of Nordstrom’s playbook, where little perks and great service are SOP and their sales and margins prove the point.

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
11 years 2 months ago

I’m fairly certain that this line item came up in some expense task force meeting and that everybody came to the same conclusion. To wit, “nobody really uses this any more and we can shave a quarter of a basis point off the expense line. Out it goes.”

The point of this is that Macy’s tends to look at anything related to customer service as an “expense” to be controlled, reduced, and eventually eliminated.

I, for one, don’t understand why they don’t drop all the pretense and just go ahead and put the POS by the exits.

Bill Bittner
Guest
Bill Bittner
11 years 2 months ago

I have to agree with the retail analyst who regards the Macy’s decision as short sighted. Retail stores have to do all they can to differentiate themselves from their Internet competitors. Even Amazon offers gift wrapping, although not for large screen TVs. The more service they give up, the more difficult it becomes for stores to explain their higher margins. With no apparent added value, more consumers will move to the Internet. The smartest thing a store operator can do is have two banners with distinctly different consumer targets. I think (thought) of Macy’s as the service banner.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
11 years 2 months ago

This could be a bad move for Macy’s. Customers are looking for more value in their shopping experience. Taking away services when a competitor offers it is not a good idea. Most of the big malls here in Canada offer wrapping at the customer service counter but, from what I noticed last Christmas, many smaller merchants started offering the service for free as an add-on. I’m saying it’s a bad idea but, then again, Macy’s has other things to worry about.

Joel Warady
Guest
Joel Warady
11 years 2 months ago

My favorite subject — the way Macy’s continues to eliminate its unique services to get as close to a generic department store as possible. Instead of eliminating the department, wouldn’t Macy’s be better served to make the gift-wrapping service a unique, memorable, and remarkable point of difference? What if they advertised it, charged for it, and made people look forward to receiving that special gift from Macy’s in a special wrap?

As paper stores continue to grow throughout the U.S., it indicates that people LOVE the idea of unique papers and unique gift-wrap. The problem is not in having the gift-wrapping service at Macy’s. The problem (as always) is the way that Macy’s is executing it.

Macy’s could be much better than this if they wanted to be a GREAT retailer. They have simply given up on this.

Justin Time
Guest
11 years 2 months ago

I remember purchasing special gifts for my family at Marshall Field’s, and having them gift wrapped. It made me feel good, and I knew I was keeping a grand tradition alive.

So what’s next for Macy’s, closing the rest rooms? Trashing all the stools at the cosmetic counters? Stop running the escalators?

Nordstrom’s should place big ads in the local newspaper declaring that they love to gift wrap customer purchases, even those bought from Macy’s.

Kevin Graff
Guest
11 years 2 months ago

Yet another example of how and why most department stores are becoming fundamentally irrelevant to customers. They’re being out-retailed by specialty retailers constantly. You can find more unique products, better assortment, better prices, more convenient locations and (here we go again!) a better shopping experience. Gift wrapping isn’t the most important thing. Far from it. But, it just signals another move further away from providing a great shopping experience.

Wait a minute … maybe if they take the savings and invest it in better floor coverage with better staff they’ll win this one! Probably not though.

Arthur Rosenberg
Guest
Arthur Rosenberg
11 years 2 months ago
Macy’s has recently employed a wonderful commercial made up of film clips from bygone days with the actors saying something like, ‘Let’s go to Macy’s’. For me this successfully brings back a warm atmosphere from a time when Macy’s and other department stores were cherished destinations for comfort in gift giving, especially around holidays. Adding a line about offering gift wrapping to the commercial would have likely enhanced the message. Instead Macy’s drops gift wrapping to revitalize its gasping current image. Macy’s like most retailers in New York prides itself on sending customers to the streets and subways with carry bags that shout the Macy’s name and logo. Great promotional. Imagine the cache of promoting itself as someone opens a special gift. Larry David devoted a part of an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm to his hunt for a gift wrapping service after he buys expensive sunglasses for a friend’s mother. He feels gift wrapping is a necessary touch and feels totally helpless without a service. I suspect many shoppers feel the same way. I… Read more »
Doug Fleener
Guest
11 years 2 months ago

I’m not surprised by the decision. And let’s be real, how many people are going to stop shopping at Macy’s because they don’t offer giftwrapping? It is a great service for an independent retailer to offer, but I see this change having zero impact on Macy’s or their customer.

Mel Kleiman
Guest
11 years 2 months ago

Very simple; this is a bad move. I’m just thinking about one segment of the market. A man looking for a nice gift for this wife. Where will he shop? A store that will gift wrap for him or one that won’t? He may not normally visit the department store but now he will not visit it at all. How about that wedding gift that needs to be wrapped and shipped. I now have another reason not to go to Macy’s. The more reason a customer finds not to go there the less they will go there for other reason.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
11 years 2 months ago

I must say I feel both sympathy and admiration for Mr. Sluzewski, who is always stuck making these unhappy announcements, and yet does it quite convincingly…well, almost.

Where was I? Oh yes, this discussion surprises me; not, of course, because it’s about Macy’s eliminating something–that’s par for the course–but because I was expecting a discussion regarding the announcement Monday about their new line(s) from Kenneth Cole. I was all prepared to talk about how they’re essentially becoming an outlet store (house brand and name brand “other” lines); this, it seems, is the other side of that transformation: no services.

Donna Thomas
Guest
Donna Thomas
11 years 2 months ago

I think Macy’s is making a mistake. It’s always the little touches that makes a difference.

Tina Lahti
Guest
Tina Lahti
11 years 2 months ago

Bad move; in our market the evolution from Dayton’s to Marshall Field’s to Macy’s has resulted in a noticeable decline in service, selection, known brands and quality of merchandise. Macy’s constant couponing seems to indicate that they themselves don’t think that they offer a good value. From the standpoint of a consumer, I would think that if I wanted to give the gift of a made-in-China store brand item that I tossed into a pretty paper bag I may as well save a buck or two and go to Target or even (gasp) Walmart. The Big Box retailers seem to be stepping it up as Macy’s is sliding down. Perhaps Target should offer seasonal gift wrap services with bullseye & Target dog printed paper.

Scott Knaul
Guest
Scott Knaul
11 years 2 months ago

The easy response is to say that Macy’s is not keeping up with its value proposition to its clients. What I don’t know is what analysis was completed to help make this decision. Do they have facts and figures that show that it is a declining business for them? Do they have information that shows their clients aren’t looking for this service anymore?

Christopher P. Ramey
Guest
11 years 1 month ago

The world changes and customers stop using certain services. No doubt that Macy’s has the metrics, and analyzed the decision ad nauseam.

If this creates a void for gift wrapping services then a wise entrepreneur will fill it.

Richa Gupta
Guest
Richa Gupta
11 years 1 month ago

I read this post recently on the talk that Macy’s CMO gave at the NRF 2010 Expo in NYC. He said, and I quote, “What we don’t need to do is get new customers, instead we realized that all we need to do is take care of those who already love us.”

If this decision of theirs is based on cost-cutting (which it seems to be), aren’t they essentially deviating from their own philosophy? Why not publicize their Gift Wrapping department more (I, for one, never knew about it, although I shop pretty frequently there) and let the customer’s interest, or lack thereof, help them make their decision?

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