Thursday, January 8, 2009

Macy's Stores Closing, Retail Sales Plummeting, and Other Good News

This isn't the best time to be working for a south Florida Macy's, but there is a silver lining to what's going on. I think.

Retail Sales: Not Good News, Generally

A CNN Money article yesterday couldn't seem to get over how badly Wal-Mart was doing: Same-store sales in Wal-Marts were up a paltry 1.9%. Sam's Club's increase was only 0.1%. True enough, the growth in each case was disappointing: Growth last year was 2.6% and 1.3% respectively.

It could have been worse. Sears' same-store sales went down 7.3%, and Macy's sales wend down 4%. Which is probably why Macy's is closing eleven of its stores. (

Bad Year for Zircon-Studded Designer Jeans

Wal-Mart's sales were a mix of good news and bad news, according to
  • Good news
    • Grocery
    • Health and wellness
    • Electronics products
  • Bad news
    • Clothing
    • Jewelery
First, about the bad news: I'm no expert, but Wal-Mart may have goofed. Kathryn Finney, of, said: " 'The Wal-Mart brand embodies traits that men and women admire - realism, practicality, efficiency,' " which I agree with. She also said that Wal-Mart was getting more fashionable: " 'The store upped its style game, remodeling its women's apparel section and getting rid of product lines by corny C-list celebrities.' " (Argus Leader)

Maybe Wal-Mart would have been better off with less trendy fashions, and more product lines from those "corny C-list celebrities."

Now, about the good news: Grocery, health and wellness, and electronic products did fairly well this year. Groceries doing well isn't so surprising: everybody eats, and the recent economic troubles should have even the most highfalutin patrons of the retail food industry reviewing their buying habits. Americans (some of us, anyway) don't seem to have lost our interest in being healthy, and we still like electronic doodads and gizmos.

What Does Macy's and Wal-Mart Have to Do With Me?

As a consumer, my family does quite a bit of shopping at Wal-Mart. But, aside from giving me something to write about now and then for a blog and a journal, huge department store chains and my enterprise don't cross paths all that often.

I think there's something to learn here, though.

Macy's Stores Closing and PC Magazine No Longer in Print: This Could be the End of Civilization as We Know It!

That's "PC Magazine No Longer in Print" - not "PC Magazine Gone." PC Magazine is, as far as I can tell, still going strong at It's the print edition that's literally out of print. (Folio)

The point is, things are just the way they've been all my life: changing.

Black and white television gave way to color, and soon we'll be switching to all-digital television: or not.

Computers changed from room-filling behemoths with limited abilities to carry-along gizmos that can put you in touch with the world, help you do your taxes, and drive you to the ragged edge of insanity from time to time.

Change Happens: Deal With It

Or, better yet, embrace it.

Online shopping dropped by 2% this holiday season, compared to the last year's 22.4%. But e-commerce "showed the most resilience" of the retail sectors. (The Wall Street Journal)

There's something very interesting going on, assuming that The Wall Street Journal and are both dealing with a full deck. According to WSJ: "No retail sector was spared. Among the biggest losers were electronics and appliances, which fell a combined 26.7% versus a 2.7% gain last year...." According to, "Wal-Mart said sales of its grocery, health and wellness, and electronics products were strong in the month...."

Electronics are among the biggest retail losers.

Electronic products were part of what kept Wal-Mart's growth from slipping even more than it did.

My guess is that, overall, electronics retail sales tanked - except for the products at Wal-Mart.

I'm going out on a limb here, but I think it's reasonable to guess that people in general don't have as much money as they did last year - or are being more careful.

But, they still like electronics, and like to shop online.

I don't sell electronics, and don't plan to any time soon. But I have been looking into online retailing. Recent retail business news might be good news for me, since online retailing seems to be growing in the long term.

Now, to develop a viable product - and learn the nuts and bolts of online retail. I've found an interesting model to study: but that's for another post, to be written after I've actually learned something.

In the news: Blog post and discussion:
Update (January 16, 2009)

Circuit City is closing its American retail stores. My take on this: "Circuit City Closing American Stores - Canada Okay" (January 16, 2009).


Anonymous said...

Electronic commerce that is conducted between businesses is referred to as business-to-business or B2B. B2B can be open to all interested parties (e.g. commodity exchange) or limited to specific, pre-qualified participants. Electronic commerce that is conducted between businesses and consumers, on the other hand, is referred to as business-to consumer or B2C. This is the type of electronic commerce conducted by companies such as

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Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Questa Quenna & jeromine,

Thanks. The comments were a bit spammy - but somewhat relevant to the post.

Everybody else: as usual, I'm not responsible for material on other blogs or websites.

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