Women’s Wear Daily
04.19.2014
fashion-features
fashion-features

Retailers’ Big Drift: Scurrying to Recover From White Weekend

Retailers in the Northeast got clobbered by this week’s snowstorm, but have plans to replay promotions to try to recoup sales.

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Sunday was also slow at Macy’s and other stores because consumers were shopping for groceries and other essentials, anticipating being stuck at home. On Tuesday, some Macy’s in New England opened late, but every unit was expected to be operating.

Describing the magnitude of the situation, Reardon characterized President’s Day as the first or second biggest volume Monday of spring, with the possible exception of Memorial Day, and among the top five days of spring, bigger than Valentine’s Day or Easter, but not as big as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Memorial Day.

Macy’s arch rival May Department Stores Co. closed 100 of its 443 U.S. stores on Monday, but reopened them all on Tuesday, according to Sharon Bateman, vice president of corporate communications. Hecht’s, Lord & Taylor, Strawbridges and Filene’s from North Carolina to New England were closed, and each division would determine whether or not to replay President’s Day sales. "As you can imagine, as of this morning, people are still digging out so traffic in the stores has been slow, but the stores are open," Bateman said.

Tracking the storm path, Filene’s closed all its stores in Connecticut on Monday and others late in the day in Providence, R.I., and New York. The retailer, which heavily promoted a President’s Day event, will be "looking at ways to strengthen the rest of the month," said Richard Phelen, broadcast manager for Filene’s. Phelen said he expected Tuesday’s traffic to be light, with people off work and being advised to stay off the roads.

The biggest hit, he said, is the missed opportunity to get customers interested in spring merchandise. Many retailers use February sales events to test spring goods and plan to build inventories on emerging hot tickets. "The frustration is getting customers to come in and focus on spring shopping," Phelen said. "Our merchandise is shifting into spring and we usually cater President’s Day to people who are buying spring [goods] for trips."

J.C. Penney Co. said the majority of its 270 stores in the Northeast region were closed Monday, but all were back open by Tuesday. As of then, there were no plans to alter the promotional calendar since a one-day sale was already scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 22. "Our marketing calendar is extremely competitive," a Penney’s spokeswoman said. "Prices for this next Saturday will be comparable to what they would have seen over President’s Day weekend. Even with the storm, we’re still trending on plan for February. We had a significant increase in Web traffic, especially Monday, which helped us a lot." It’s also possible that Penney’s will tweak its upcoming sale Saturday to try to help make up for lost sales Monday and Sunday, but there was no definite word on that.
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