Down to Business: Macy’s eases my moment of panic

Macy's reported a disappointing holiday season, but they were there for me in my "panic" moment.
So there I was, poking around at floor level at a Macy’s display on Super Saturday — sometimes dubbed “panic Saturday,” the last full Saturday for shopping before Christmas — when, Eureka!, I found the digital accessory I’d been searching for.
I had trolled the web for days for the item, with various retailers’ sites showing it out of stock and no new shipments expected until after Christmas.
I was in a panic (yes, the day is aptly named) because I’d finally convinced Husband that this was the right gift for our always-texting, always-videoing, iPhoning-everything daughter.
But it seemed other parents, faster at making gift decisions, had beaten me to the punch.
In one last internet search, Macy’s popped up as having the device — not just one, but several— at Colonie Center. So off we drove.
I don’t know what happened to the “several” that were supposed to be there, but rooting around that lower shelf of the display, I found just one, which was all I needed.
I sidled over to Husband and whispered “Got it!”, not wanting to alert the nearby knot of shoppers to my find.
I convey the story only to underscore my surprise that Macy’s found the holidays so disappointing.
Super Saturday seemed busy enough at the Colonie store, with lines at the registers in the men’s and jewelry departments, and the kitchen appliances and other housewares on the third floor looking pretty picked over.
But CEO Terry Lundgren said last week that Macy’s “had anticipated sales would be stronger” in its stores and as a result lowered 2016 sales guidance. The company also identified 68 stores that will be closed in the next few months; the Colonie Center Macy’s is safe, as is the one at Crossgates Mall.
Macy’s wasn’t alone in its holiday assessment, however, as Kohl’s, Sears and JCPenney also bemoaned lackluster sales. Some specialty retailers, though, reported a good season.
Indeed, early numbers show in-store sales likely will meet the 3.6 percent increase projected in October by the National Retail Federation, higher than the 10-year holiday average and above the recent post-recession annual pace.
First Data Corp. released figures this week that matched the Retail Federation’s prediction, according to the trade publication Chain Store Age, which said the company used clients’ credit and debit card transaction data to gauge the season.
The Retail Federation also had predicted solid sales gains online, which First Data and others echoed, each putting the increases in the neighborhood of 10 percent. Even Macy’s Lundgren said he was pleased with the company’s “double-digit gains” in online sales.
Online represents only about 20 percent of all holiday spending right now, according to First Data, although one executive said he could see “more and more” shoppers staying home tomake holiday purchases on their own time.
But where would the last-minute fun — or panic — be in that?
Marlene Kennedy is a freelance columnist. Opinions expressed in her column are her own and not necessarily the newspaper’s. Reach her at [email protected]

Categories: Business, News

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