Warren Shoulberg Blog: Buy Less, Pay More
Posted on November 20, 2009 by
Have the big, fancy-schmanzy luxury stores finally figured out how to stay in business?
Curiously enough at the very same time that all-around retailing god Allen Questrom is saying that luxury stores have to rethink their business models, scaling back and fostering more of an exclusive image, a story shows up on the front page of the New York Times saying that is indeed what some retailers are starting to do.
Not that they are closing stores or doing anything drastic like that. But they do seem to be cutting back on inventory, ordering less, and telling the customer that if she wants this little trinket she better buy it now -- at full price -- because it may not be there tomorrow.
It's a pretty radical change from the days when Saks Fifth Avenue was behaving like Saks 34th Street or the heady I'll-take-four-Coach-bags-today times we all lived through not that long ago.
This new thinking of course has its own downside. Even if these stores are getting fuller markups for these goods, they are selling far fewer of them and the increase in per-unit revenue is not going to compensate for the decrease in unit sales. Saks and Nordstrom and Neiman's all still have those big bills to pay, even if there are fewer people behind the counters these days.
What's really most interesting about this whole thing is that this buy-it-while-you-can plan is oddly similar to the basic premise behind a couple of stores that exist under the TJX banner: Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, et al. Not to mention a little store out on the highway by the name of Costco.
Proving once more that when it comes to retailing, knockoffs are not just sitting on the racks.