eMacy’s Rises, While eSears Sinks

The Wall Street Journal: “Among a crop of five retailers analyzed by Edison Trends, including Sears, Kmart, Kohl’s, Macy’s, and J.C. Penney, Macy’s has seen the strongest online growth in 2018, climbing 28% in monthly order volume since January. Meanwhile, Sears’s online order volume fell 25% from January to May. Penney looks only marginally better than Sears. Though it, too, operated a big catalog business, Penney failed to make the necessary digital investments to stay ahead.”

“As Sears shutters stores—it announced another 60 closures last month—e-commerce could have been the company’s future. Instead it has fallen far behind traditional retailers, and is way, way behind its big competitors, Walmart and Target . Maybe Sears should have stuck with the catalog.”

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Lord & Taylor’s New ‘Flagship’: Walmart.com

The New York Times: “Lord & Taylor is teaming up with Walmart to create an online store on Walmart.com that will offer about 125 fashion brands, including Tommy Bahama, La La Anthony, H Halston and Effy. Billed by both companies as a ‘premium’ shopping destination, the new online store reflects Lord & Taylor’s desire to reach a wider audience and Walmart’s hope to attract a different type of customer.”

“For Walmart, the partnership is the latest attempt to reach a more urbane shopper. As part of that effort, Walmart has made a string of acquisitions over the past year, purchasing the clothing sites Bonobos and Modcloth and starting its own bedding and mattress line, sold exclusively online.”

“The Lord & Taylor online store on Walmart.com is expected to open in the coming weeks. Lord & Taylor will be responsible for shipping the clothing to customer’s homes. It will continue to sell the same brands in its stores and on its own website at the same prices as it does on Walmart.com … Lord & Taylor executives referred to their site on the Walmart website as a new kind of ‘flagship’ store.”

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1916: When Department Stores Featured Hospitals

The New York Times: “Lord & Taylor, New York’s oldest luxury department store, founded in 1826, boasted ‘one of the most attractive and completely equipped of the small hospitals in New York City,’ according to an article in The Modern Hospital magazine in 1916. The store operated the hospital when it was located on Broadway and East 20th Street before moving to its new building on Fifth Avenue between 38th and 39th Streets in 1914. On Fifth Avenue, the entire 11th floor was devoted to employee health and welfare, from the hospital to various medical and dental clinics, a roof garden, gymnasium, a schoolroom for boys and girls and an employee restaurant.”

“B. Altman, between Fifth and Madison Avenues and 34th and 35th Streets, operated a 12th-floor emergency hospital that by 1916 was handling as many as 18,000 cases a year, according to Hospital Management magazine. A 1914 brochure celebrating the store’s expansion said, ‘The 12th floor of the new addition has been given over in its entirety to the use of the employees.’ Separate dining rooms served men and women, and a physician and two nurses oversaw a large medical suite and surgery. Also, in a sign of those times, there was a men’s smoking room.”

“Welfare services for department store workers began with John Wanamaker … He wanted to keep his workers healthy and happy, and so in an era of rapacious capitalism, child labor and male privilege he introduced half-day-Saturdays off, medical benefits and a retirement system … His competitors soon followed with medical facilities, employee exercise and lunchrooms, educational training, vacation programs and medical clinics. When Macy’s on West 34th Street expanded in 1924, the new 16th floor included an employee dental clinic with chairs for six dentists.”

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Nordstrom Doubles Down on Bricks

The Wall Street Journal: “Many retailers, beset by online competition and shifting consumer tastes, are slashing costs and closing hundreds of stores. Nordstrom Inc. is doing the opposite … It is revamping some of its 122 department stores and spending more than $500 million to gain a toehold in Manhattan. It has snapped up e-commerce companies including flash-sale website HauteLook and subscription service Trunk Club. And it has launched new concepts, including a store in Los Angeles called Nordstrom Local that doesn’t stock any clothes. So far, those efforts have failed to pay off in rising profits.”

“Nordstrom says it is different from its peers. It has fewer locations than rivals, and most are in the nation’s top malls, which continue to draw shoppers … While other department stores are retrenching, Nordstrom has shown a willingness to take risks. It is jumping into the competitive New York City market with a men’s store opening in April followed by a women’s store next year … At a store in Irvine, Calif., Nordstrom recently completed a test of a showroom that carried samples of 19 brands such as Rag & Bone and Veronica Beard in every size and color; they could be tried on but had to be ordered online. For shoppers, it solved the problem of visiting a store only to find their size sold out.”

“Other changes meant to appeal to customers are smaller. In November, the company unlocked the fitting rooms in its department stores … Although theft has increased slightly since Nordstrom made the change, executives say, the retailer is sticking with the new policy. ‘Analysts don’t like it,’ Jamie Nordstrom said. ‘But I’m thinking about the next 50 years, not the next quarter’.”

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Depachikas: Department Store Sushi?

Business Insider: “The best place to find and sample Japanese food in Japan is actually in Tokyo’s department stores. Stores like Tokyu, Mitsukoshi, and Nihonbashi Takashimaya are like miniature cities unto themselves, spanning five or more floors and selling everything you can possibly imagine. But it’s in the basement where the real magic happens. There you will find Japan’s depachikas, sprawling fancy food halls with all kinds of Japanese and international cuisine.”

“Depachika is a portmanteau of the words for department store (depato) and basement (chika). Most department stores in Japan have them … The depachika is seen as a way to draw in hungry travelers and convince them to shop in the store’s upper floors, otherwise known as the “the Fountain Effect.” They offer just about every type of cuisine someone might want. Some depachika offer as many as 30,000 products.”

“Some depachika have sit-down sushi restaurants inside the food hall. But the grab-and-go sushi is usually very high quality … Depachikas are often attached to train stations to attract harried commuters. They can be a great place to grab a quick bento box before getting on the shinkansen (bullet train).”

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Tiffany’s & The ‘Tin Can’ Gambit

The New York Times: “Since joining Tiffany & Co. in January as chief artistic officer, Reed Krakoff has undertaken to freshen the image of the 180-year-old jewelry company. His first major footprint is on the fourth-floor home and accessories floor of Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue flagship, where the sacred and the profane are now commingling cheerfully … Which is how the world came to know the Tiffany Tin Can (actually sterling silver and vermeil, $1,000) … (‘When panhandling before the big riot, don’t be caught without this stunning $1,000 tin can from Tiffany’s.’)”

“Mr. Krakoff’s injection of levity is not an unwelcome twist on the usual gilded or silvered theme … Old luxury: Founder’s portrait. New luxury: Founder’s portrait in Sheetrock screws and plywood … Tiffany’s entry-level dog bowls read, merely, ‘dog.’ — bone china, $125 for a small version and $175 for a large — but on display is a sterling silver option that Joan Rivers had engraved for her dog, Spike, for those inspired to go bigger ($1,800 for a small version, $2,500 for a large) … Not recommended for cat play: Tiffany’s sterling silver ball of yarn, $9,000.”

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Ypperlig: IKEA’s ‘Excellent’ Adventure

Quartz: “IKEA’s new collaboration with Danish product designers HAY is intended to ‘challenge people’s perception of IKEA quality and design.’ Ypperlig (Swedish for ‘excellent’ ) debuts as IKEA’s newest and most collectible furniture line … The 15-year old furniture design brand is among the leading players in the modern Scandinavian design scene—their Copenhagen showroom is a regular stop in design tours of the city.”

“Design connoisseurs swooned over the handsome Ypperlig injection moulded chairs and coveted the stylish color update to IKEA’s iconic Frakta shopping bag.”

IKEA spokesperson Johanna Martin comments: “We believe in making products that our customers want to keep and live with for a long time, regardless if it’s a product made in collaboration with someone or part of our ordinary range. But there is also an emotional connection which is important when making things sustainable. If you like the product you will keep the product longer.”

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Nordstrom Local: Manicures, Not Merchandise

The Wall Street Journal: “Nordstrom Inc. is opening a new store next month that is a fraction of the size of its typical locations, where shoppers will be able to enjoy services such as manicures and on-site tailoring. Something it won’t carry: clothes … Nordstrom Local, scheduled to open Oct. 3 in West Hollywood, Calif., will span 3,000 square feet, far less than the 140,000 square feet of one of Nordstrom’s standard department stores.”

“It will contain eight dressing rooms, where shoppers can try on clothes and accessories, though the store won’t stock them. Instead, personal stylists will retrieve goods from nine Nordstrom locations in Los Angeles, or through its website. The stylists can also pull together looks for shoppers through a ‘style board’ app.”

“In addition to manicures, Nordstrom Local shoppers will be able to order wine, beer, coffee or juice from an in-store bar, and those who place orders on Nordstrom.com by 2 p.m. can pick them up there that day. They will also be able to return items at the store that they bought online or from other Nordstrom locations. Tailors will be available for alterations or to help members of Trunk Club, an online clothing service that Nordstrom acquired in 2014, select fabrics for custom garments.”

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Saks 5th Wellery: Luxury Prison-Style Workouts

Business Insider: “Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship store in Manhattan has become, at least temporarily, a wellness paradise. The store has dedicated an entire floor to athleisure-focused shops and offerings like workout classes, salt rooms, and even vitamin guru services. This collection of shops make up The Wellery, which will be open at Saks through October. During your shopping experience, you can get your nails or eyebrows done, take an intense workout class, or find products that are tailored to a health-centric lifestyle.”

“One of the most intense activities at The Wellery is a prison-style boot camp run by the boutique fitness studio ConBody. The studio’s founder, Coss Marte, developed the classes during his time in prison. The $30 classes include resistance exercises using body weight and are taught by formerly incarcerated trainers … On a more relaxing note, the Breathe Salt Rooms provide a holistic treatment that claim to have a healing and detoxifying effect on respiratory conditions and the skin … You can also sit through a guided meditation while having your nails done at Sundays, a salon that uses nontoxic nail polishes.”

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