March 09, 2014

Monday Mailbag

Email me ( or tweet me (@minethatdata) your questions for our Monday Mailbag.

Today's question comes from Tim:
  • Kevin, Multichannel Merchant (click here and click here and click here) says that Macy's sales fell flat in Q4 (Nov-Dec-Jan) on a comp basis and declined overall due to weather-related issues. Don't you think that it is unfair to blame omnichannel strategies for sales challenges when we've had the worst winter in a hundred years?
Tim, I want for you to look at the sales trajectory at Macy's over the past six years. Tell me what you observe:
  • Year Ending January 2014 = $27.9 billion.
  • 2013 = $27.7 billion.
  • 2012 = $26.4 billion.
  • 2011 = $25.0 billion.
  • 2010 = $23.5 billion.
  • 2009 = $24.9 billion.
During this timeframe, sales increased at an annualized rate of 2.3%, right around the rate of inflation, at a time when e-commerce (which is included in these totals) is exploding.

Macy's, who called themselves "America's Omnichannel Store" last year, the #omnichannel pioneer, if you will, is growing roughly at the rate of inflation. And in the most recent twelve month period, when e-commerce is absolutely sizzling and omnichannel strategies should be at their zenith, the business was stuck in place.


Ignore weather issues - merchants and omnichannel experts take credit for positive sales when weather is amazingly good. Remember back in March 2012 when it was 70 degrees for a full month across the eastern half of the country? Things balance out over time, that's why you take a six year sales look (like we just did, above).

When sales increase, the experts take credit for it. When sales decrease, the weather is to be blamed (#climatechange). 

Overall, sales are not outpacing inflation at Macy's, the poster child for #omnichannel goodness.

Look at the facts.

Look at what Amazon is doing to everybody.

Think about why customers actually buy from your business (#merchandise).

Craft a strategy based on what actually works.