Post by Mark MacAdam, Public Relations Research
Have you noticed department stores seem to be having never-ending one-day sales lately? If so, you’re not alone. Nearly half of Americans (49%) feel that mid-tier department stores have more sales and promotions this year compared to last, according to a recent Harris Poll. This tactic might be paying off in the short-term for retailers, as almost 7 in 10 Americans say they visit mid-tier department stores at least occasionally. However, is this strategy shortsighted on the retailers’ side just to make a buck? Possibly. Thirty-nine percent of Americans believe there’s not much difference between discount stores and mid-tier department stores as there used to be. Moreover, nearly one-quarter agree that mid-tier department stores have diminished the status level of their brand.
Is this just another effect of the ongoing recession or are there fundamental changes occurring within the retail industry? Personally, I believe it’s a combination of both. The economic downturn we’ve experienced over the past year (has it only been a year?!) has forced many to watch their spending by ‘stepping down the retail ladder’ to stores with a lower price-point. This has forced higher-end retailers to discount heavily in order to compete. Additionally, prior to the economic meltdown, department stores already faced an uphill battle. For instance, although there are fewer department store chains compared to the days of yore, they still face heightened competition. These days not only do department stores need to compete on price with discount stores, but they must also compete against fast inventory turnaround retailers such as H&M and Zara. The difficult economic climate coupled with tough competition and changing consumer preferences does not make me envy the department store CEOs, except for maybe that cherished employee discount!
So tell us – where (and why) do you shop?