Retail Detail. Luxury Department Stores Look Forward to the Future

September 8, 2010 • Shopping

Can stores spring forward for spring?

With Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week prepped to take off and retailers all over the globe gearing up for Fashion's Night Out, everyone in the industry is hoping for the best when it comes to one thing: sales. Department stores especially are pulling out all the stops for Fashion's Night Out, investing tens of thousands of dollars to hold elaborate parties and bring in special celebrity guests. But will it all payoff? Only time will tell, but a few store heads are speaking out that times may be a-changing. 

“We have been feeling very positive about our ability to drive a significantly improved full-price business and improved margins with very tight inventories. Our approach for next spring will be along that line,” said Ron Frasch, president and chief merchandising officer of Saks Fifth Avenue. “We are a little more optimistic with our sales plan, but we are still going to be close to the vest with inventory and expenses. We are not out of this yet. There’s still a lot of instability in the stock market, and we are still in a state of ‘you just don’t know.’ Less formal and more relaxed clothes are really key.

Frasch also noted that designers have not lowered their prices on premiere collections and hope that consumers will begin to become more comfortable with spending again come spring. Michael Gould, chairman and chief executive officer of Bloomingdale’s, shares Frasch's feeling of optimism for the future. “We feel we have a good trend going,” he said. "We have continued to perform better than the competition. Obviously, it’s about staying focused.”

Lord & Taylor says their optimism is fueled by their above average sales increases.  “We want to stay one step ahead of the customer and continue our double-digit increases by going deeper into key items and looking for new vendors,” said Brendan Hoffman, ceo of Lord & Taylor. “We have been cautiously optimistic. Now we are a lot more bullish. We were pleased with Labor Day results. That’s reinforced our optimism.” And what can we expect at Lord & Taylor come spring? “[A] balance of dress up and casual and outfits that are more versatile….There are people protecting their jobs or looking for new jobs and they would err on the side of being more dressed up. But there are also [more casual-minded] people who want to blow off steam.”

All we can do is cross our fingers and hope that retail sales will start to pick up by next season. But until then, start shopping! 

Article Source: WWD

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-Alia Rajput

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