Major retailers are changing the way they do business because of the recession, a recent NY Times story reports. Here are some of the changes comes to Sears, Neiman Marcus, Saks, Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney, Macys, PetSmart, Target and Home Depot.
- Fewer items in stock because retailers can’t afford to sell extra merchandise at deep discounts. (Wal-Mart)
- Fewer brands to choose from to streamline the shopping process and require less stock on hand. (Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, PetSmart)
- Greater connection between in-store and online sales facilitated by in-store computers that lets customers check where an item is available. (Sears, J.C. Penney)
- High end stores will carry more “mid-priced” merchandise. At Coach, about 50 percent of the handbags will fall in the $200 to $300 price range, up from about 30 percent last year. (Neiman Marcus, Saks, Coach)
- Greater regionalization of merchandise that reflects what local customers are asking for and buying. (Macys)
- Shorter lead time for merchandise. I.e. no more swimsuits in February. (multiple chains)
- Greater connection between a retailers and a specific designer, which means more exclusives and fewer price wars because stores will not sell the same item. (multiple chains)
- Better customer service. (Home Depot)
These seem like fairly reasonable ways for stores to adapt. We could grumble over some of these changes, but as a consumer society if we are not willing to spend like we used to, how do we expect retailers to operate as if we are?