Retailers Ready for Christmas
Many retailers are expecting Christmas to be a bit less cheery this year and are taking steps to make the most of the selling season by aggressively managing inventories and by placing greater emphasis on exclusive items, according to Women’s Wear Daily.
One unidentified store president told WWD, “Our approach will be disciplined in terms of where our inventory investments are. It’s a market-share game more than ever.”
While some are concerned that economic, domestic political and geo-political issues may possibly derail the holiday, most are upbeat, if less so, than in recent years.
To differentiate in the marketplace and capture share in the process, retailers serving customers from the lowest rungs on the economic ladder to those at the highest levels are turning to exclusive products.
Kmart, for example, will sell Joe Boxer flannel pajamas for $16.99 during the Christmas sales season. In an alternate retail reality, Saks Fifth Avenue will sell a pavé diamond chain from H. Stern for Diane von Furstenberg for a measly $132,000.
“We’ve really looked for innovative, neat items,” said Saks Fifth Avenue president and chief operating officer Andrew Jennings. “It’s all about being special – the key items – and not necessarily about price, whether it’s a toy watch, skull-and-crossbones stationery or a Juicy Couture dog parka.”
Retailers, whether dealing in exclusive items or not, are looking to set a different tone this year.
Karen Stuckey, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of women’s wear and jewelry at Wal-Mart, said the retailer’s holiday merchandise will be “richer and luxurious, based in plush fabrics with special luxe trims versus the glam and glitz” of last year.
“There’s more velvet, fur, passementerie, deeper sophistication in the color palette, and rich patterns or jacquards complete the look. It’s all about luxury, romantic drama and opulence, with a nod to the Ballet Rus,” she said.
Lisa Schultz, executive vice president of Sears Holdings Apparel Design, said, “At Kmart, the focus is on great items. Sears is more about the dressing. We’re focused on mixing
and matching, so you can get a great Thalia camisole with a black pant and mix it up with jeans and heels.”
Discussion Question: What factors (inventory control, in-store merchandising, advertising, etc.) will be most critical this holiday season for retailers
trying to grow both their top and bottom lines?