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Retail Trends

Department Stores

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Some perennial department store power players are posting rejuvenated financial performances, while others are showing the scars from battling through the recession and changes in consumers’ shopping habits.

Dillard’s posted a 24 percent earnings gain and 5 percent same-store sales growth in the first three months of this year, while Neiman Marcus extended a streak of revenue growth in the quarters leading up to the end of its fiscal year this month. Belk is riding a wave of popularity as it continues to remodel and upgrade its store base, while Nordstrom has put together a string of double-digit year-over-year sales gains.

Sears has been selling stores as it struggles with the hybridization of its catalog/general merchandise legacy and the Kmart discount store format. At J.C. Penney, things seemed to be tooling along nicely under former Apple executive Ron Johnson until Q1 figures were announced. Shares plunged, but major investor William Ackman says consumers just haven’t grasped all the new things the retailer is doing.

“It’s a difficult transition,” Ackman says. “There are some extreme couponing customers who we probably lost money on, who may not come back, but [with] the people who are focused on quality and value and ultimately product, we should do very well.”

Macy’s is using its iconic name, first-class real estate and a well-executed multi-channel strategy to reach the forefront of retailing. Growth “came from stores and online and across geography and categories of business,” says chairman and CEO Terry J. Lundgren. “We are seeing the ongoing benefit of … My Macy’s localization, omnichannel integration and associate training to enhance our customer engagement.”