Retailers Spring Into Action
By George Anderson
Retailers looking to differentiate themselves from the competition and boost the bottom line with sales of full margin product moved swiftly to put spring merchandise out on display when shoppers entered stores the day following Christmas.
Michael Gould, chairman of Bloomingdale’s, told Bloomberg News, “We have a great deal of spring merchandise. You see color. I think that is very good for us, not just in Florida and California, but in the whole country. Our customers want to see newness.”
Robert Mettler, chairman of the West Coast division of Macy’s, said, “A lot of gift cards get redeemed this week. Making sure you have great product and a great assortment goes a long way.”
The gift card phenomenon has altered the way retailers are approaching the last shopping week of the year. According to Jane Hali of Coleman Research Group, retailers began moving in more new spring merchandise right after Christmas about three years ago. The number doing it this year is “more than last year, because everyone has analyzed the gift card scenario,” she said.
Patricia Edwards, who helps manage $6.4 billion in assets at Wentworth Hauser & Violich questioned whether retailers might be jumping the gun by rolling out so much of their spring lines. “While it seems that consumers are continuing to want to buy new and fresh merchandise, the retailers might have been a little bit better off with a softer bridge between winter and spring, rather than just jumping in,” she said.
“The pink/blue/green items at Nordstrom and other places in the mall seemed really tropical,” she added.
Moderator’s Comment: Does holding gift cards make it more likely consumers will buy full margin merchandise while after Christmas sales are going on?
Does moving right into spring merchandise make sense following Christmas or should there be some type of intermediate step as suggested in the Bloomberg News piece?
George Anderson – Moderator