August 23, 2023

Comp Store Sales

Oh look ... omnichannel darling Macy's is leaking sales once again (click here).

Sure, it's the fault of the "consumer" ... defaulting on credit. Sure.

Explain how Bluemercury, owned by Macy's, had comp store sales increases if the "consumer" is the problem?

Back in the stone ages when I worked at Eddie Bauer, it was always somebody else's fault that business stunk. It was never the merchandise.

Early in my time at Nordstrom, I recall sitting in a Management meeting. Business was bad. Our CEO (Blake Nordstrom) put up a slide as he always did, showing comp store sales increases/decreases by Merchandise Division. It looked something like this:

  • Accessories = +5.4%.
  • Cosmetics = +2.3%.
  • Womens Footwear = -1.0%.
  • Womens Apparel = -2.1%.
  • Mens Apparel = -3.3%.
  • Mens Footwear = -5.2%.

There were more divisions than this ... this is for illustrative purposes.

Our CEO looked at the audience, paused, then briefly opined about why, if the "consumer" was stressed as the industry stated back in the days following September 11, the Accessories Division was posting +5% comps? Why, if the "consumer" was not buying, was the customer buying Accessories?

The room got really quiet, and for good reason.

The answer, of course, was that the "consumer" and the narrative surrounding the "consumer" was irrelevant. What was relevant was finding something the Customer wanted to purchase at a price the Customer was willing to pay, enabling the Brand to be profitable.

Do not listen to industry narratives bemoaning a stressed "consumer". Pure garbage. It's your job to figure out what your Customer is willing to purchase at a price that is fair to the Customer and to your Brand.

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