Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Store Intel: Consumer Taking a Break in Holiday Shopping

We observed over the weekend a true lull in both traffic and pace of business in the stores we visited through last evening. With a shortened holiday shopping calendar we are very concerned about the next phase of promotions which will begin this coming weekend. The compressed shopping period traditionally places enormous pressure on all retailers but with the start to this years Christmas season the promotional level has become even more treacherous. Enough said . We all knew this was an inevitable outcome. Here are some thoughts :

Aeropostle (ARO): The launch of Bethany Mota seems to have created an increase in foot traffic this past weekend. We received positive feedback from the multiple locations we had visited . The unfortunate reality is most stores commented that business had been disappointing the last 5 days. In summary, a successful launch, definitely improved traffic, the customer is responding to Bethany but overall it has not seemed to improve top line sales at a significant level as of today.

Gap (GPS): a name that Retailsails has been a fan of since December 2012. Surprisingly we found Gap to be one of the more promotional stores in the mall. In fact Gap was running a more promotional event than Old Navy as of yesterday. Gap was promoting up to 50% off during the weekend and yesterday keep up the promotional pressure by running a promo for up to 40% off. Old Navy was running a promo over which is continuing thru today at up to 40% off "cozy comfort" and today ramped up the promotional cadence by going to up to 50% off for the same category. We believe this is a promotional strategy in response to concern for top line sales. In our opinion they are attempting to promote heavy now before the rest of their competitors get more aggressive with promotions as we move through this weekend. In summary we are concerned the margins, like all other retailers are worse than expected and with the current lull in both traffic and top line sales we are concerned.

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