File photo of Macy's
Experts think its omnichannel selling strategy has Macy's Inc. well-positioned to take advantage of a "fundamental shift" in holiday shopping behavior by U.S. consumers. Investors are as skeptical as Doris Walker in Miracle on 34th Street.
CINCINNATI - Macy’s Inc. is getting solid reviews on its holiday shopping campaigns, with in-store foot traffic ranked first among department stores and its omnichannel selling approach praised as being the best way to reach recession-weary consumers.
But investors aren't as enthralled, with shares down nearly 2 percent from its $54.07 opening price on Black Friday morning. Macy's traded at $53 at mid-day on news that holiday retail sales are expected to decline this year.
The company isn’t revealing sales results, although CEO Terry Lundgren gave a Black Friday interview on The Street in which he touted strong traffic counts and said cashmere sweaters were “flying off the racks.”
Macy’s was among several retailers to experiment with early openings on Thanksgiving. Experts are split on whether the strategy worked.
Retail analytics firm, ShopperTrak, said retailers increased store traffic by 2.8 percent on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, while retail sales increase 2.3 percent to $12.3 billion over the two-day period.
The National Retail Federation said foot traffic was up but spending was down nationwide. Its estimate for the four-day weekend is $57.4 billion in total spending, down 2.9 percent from last year.
But that doesn’t mean all retailers will see a decline. Analysts generally pointed to Macy’s as a winner in the evolving holiday season shopping frenzy.
“We’re seeing a fundamental shift in the American shopper,” said Thomas Blischok, chief retail strategist for Booz & Co.’s San Francisco-based retail consulting practice. Blischok spent the weekend interviewing more than 300 shoppers at 150 stores, including some of the 15,000 who were waiting in line for Macy’s Inc. to open its New York Herald Square store on Thanksgiving night.
“With the access of Internet and the smart phones, it was clear to me that people were well armed with what they were going to buy,” Bliscok said. “They knew what they were going to pay for it and they knew exactly where it was in the store.”
Blischok said that helps Macy’s because it has a strong presence on Internet and mobile phone platforms. He thinks Walmart, Target and Amazon also benefited from this year’s shift in shopping patterns.
Stern Agee retail industry analyst Chuck Grom praised Macy’s “promotional intensity” with significant doorbuster discounts and strong values in-store and online.
The Chicago-based location analytics firm, Placed, ranked Macy’s first among department stores in foot-traffic market share. The results are based on tracking data from 125,000 U.S. smartphone users who’ve opted in to share their location. Walmart was by far the the top shopping destination, followed by Target, Best Buy, The Home Depot and Lowes. Macy’s ranked 7th on the list, and second in a list that tracked which retailers saw the biggest gains between Black Friday and the Friday before.
ShopperTrak does not share data on individual retailers, but said Midwestern shoppers lagged the rest of the nation this year. Traffic increased 2.3 percent in the Midwest, while sales were up 3.3 percent. Shoppers in the West were the most eager: Traffic was up 6 percent, while sales jumped 6 percent.