Retail Earnings Recap: Key Quotes on Brick-and-Mortar

 My takeaways:

  1. Kohl's and especially JC Penney spoke convincingly about their belief in stores as a strategic asset for product, experiences, and processes not possible online.
  2. Macy's efforts to recover sales from the 100 stores they're closing are bound to be more about marketing than service or product. I've seen no service improvement since Macy's started talking about it and I'm unconvinced they're as tight with vendors as they say.
  3.  Nordstrom, albeit with the smallest store base, was the only company not asked about mass store closures. Analysts and Nordstrom are smart not to focus there.

JC Penney:

  • "Omnichannel is a strategic process, not a catchphrase": More than 50% of online orders touch stores (this means a dot-com order is shipped to a store, picked up in a store same day, shipped from a store, sold by an associate via online within a store, or returned to a store)
  • Leveraging store assets enables cost reduction in serving customers
  • The strategic value of store locations will grow as omnichannel touchpoints grow

Kohl's:

  • "We have a big opportunity in BOPUS both short and long term, which we think will only continue to amplify the role and relevancy of our brick-and-mortar stores"
  • "Fewer stores generally are not going to be a ticket to success in our mind"
  • "We will have smaller stores in the future... As leases come up it will be smarter for us to relocate into a smaller store in the next five years"

Macy's:

  • "We decided to be proactive and to close a larger number of stores this year. This will bring the shopping experience to a consistently higher level and concentrates Macy's stores in locations with better potential... We will not lose representation in any of the top markets."
  • "With the stores we have closed in recent years, we have greatly improved our ability to retain sales, both through new targeted marketing efforts and by trying to make sure that we add specific merchandise categories and vendors that is in stores that are being closed into stores that are nearby."
  • "We're supplementing [product and assortments] with improved service in our stores... In terms of increase in service, one of the areas we have actually focused on this year has been ready-to-wear [because] it's the category that also has to handle the most Internet returns and so we wanted to make sure we had more staff there so that they were able to service customers that came in wanting to buy in addition to dealing with the returns"
  • "And let's not forget the critical importance of stores for most of our vendors... So I think all of that will help us to continue to be very important partners to our vendors."

 Nordstrom:

  • "Certainly a key differentiator for us is our service level so we're very conscious of assuring that we deliver that high level of service"