Steve Sadove, chairman and CEO of Saks Inc., which operates Saks Fifth Avenue, hosted the Global Department Store Summit in NYC last month. During his opening remarks he commented, “Never let a good recession go to waste.”
Those words kept rattling around in my head as I reviewed STORES Top 100 Retailers list for 2009. Did retailers struggle in 2009? We all know the answer to that question; and certainly the financials bear that out. But the numbers only tell part of the story.
Indeed, there were any number of stories about companies in this industry that seized the opportunity to retrench, reconnect with consumers and re-engineer their businesses — despite the “hunker down and wait of skies to clear” mentality that prevailed among so many other businesses.
Saks, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus showered a bit more attention on their discount chains, catering to a luxury shopper who pulled in the reins on spending. Saks opened four new Off 5th stores last year and two replacement units, and plans call for as many a five to be opened by the close of 2010.
Nordstrom, which currently operates 76 Rack units, opened six new Rack stores for the quarter ended May 1 and recently announced plans for two more by this time next year. Meanwhile, luxury rival Neiman Marcus now operates 28 clearance centers called Last Call and just announced experimentation with a spinoff concept called Last Call Studio stores.
Macy’s “My Macy’s” program continued full steam ahead, despite the wretched economy. Today, Macy’s CEO, President and Chairman Terry Lundgren considers it to be a key driver behind the company’s $23 million profit in the first quarter of 2010. He says the national department store is “better able to anticipate and react to customer needs in each location through ‘My Macy’s’ localization.”
Target delivered a full court press on fresh foods with its Pfresh program; Apple continued to roll out new products that kept shoppers lined up outside their doors; Sears piloted the Marketplace at Sears.com and MyGofer; and both Walgreens and CVS exceed 7,000 units. And the list goes on and on.
Nearly every merchant is happy to see 2009 in the rear view mirror. For those who used the time to reinvent and rethink their business, the future looks bright. Take a look at the latest edition of STORES Top 100 Retailers and see how the biggest retailers in the nation fared in 2009.