Macy’s Takes Hit Over Name Change
By George Anderson
According to a study by Scarborough Research, the number of customers walking into Macy’s stores in the Columbus, Ohio area have declined 4.5 percent since parent company Federated Department Stores put that banner up in place of Lazarus.
Retail analyst James Dion told The Columbus Dispatch that Scarborough’s research might be pointing to a strategic error on the part of Federated.
“I think it’s a huge warning flag,” he said. “The customers are basically saying, ‘We liked our hometown department store. We liked Lazarus. We trusted it.’ “
While many consumers in central Ohio certainly identified with and shopped at Lazarus, the traffic hit that Macy’s has taken was an acceleration of several years of decline.
In 2000, 28.7 percent of adults in the Columbus area said they had visited a Lazarus store. Since the name change to Macy’s last year, 19.8 percent of area adults did the same.
“Normally, you would not expect that level of decline,” said Mr. Dion. “Lazarus absolutely had value as a name, and the customer is saying one size does not fit all.”
Federated spokesman Jim Sluzewski said the company is taking the transition to the Macy’s banner one step at a time. “There’s always concern when we change names because change is difficult. But customers always tell us it’s what’s inside the store that’s important with them.”
Neva Kraatz, a consumer from Reynoldsburg, Ohio says she has noticed differences. “Since the change, I’m finding less brand-name assortments and more private labels at Macy’s. They tend to get more vanilla.”
Moderator’s Comment: Should the short-term results at former Lazarus locations be a warning to Federated about its
national Macy’s branding strategy? Are stores becoming “more vanilla” under the Macy’s banner? –
George Anderson – Moderator