Roulston Research Retail Roundtable with Retail Veterans Margaret Gilliam and Gary White

October 29, 2012

It seems that the upcoming Holiday season is speeding at 100 miles per hour, with black Friday about a month away. All eyes move toward retailers, as retailers revamp their business and marketing strategies and prepare for the shopping rush, overcoming many woes that have plagued many retailers in previous quarters. Roulston Research recently hosted a Retail Roundtable on October 25, 2012 in New York with two veterans, Margaret Gilliam and Gary White, to analyze the strategies that are underway in the industry. Margaret has spent over 30 years as a Wall Street securities analyst covering all facets of retailing, including the wholesale club concept, the importance of food and entertainment to the health of shopping centers and multichannel retailing. She now manages her own research and business advisory firm, Gilliam & Co. specializing in retailing and consumer products. Gary White has also spent around 30 years in the retail industry and was the former CEO of United Retail Group and Gymboree, former Vice President of Target and the former COO at Wet Seal. Below is but a snapshot of a few of the topics discussed at the event.

Nordstrom is one of the few retailers being aggressive this season with their growth plans, specifically with Nordstrom Racks stores expansion that is estimated to be deriving around 25% of their revenue and will continue to grow by 30%. Both speakers remain optimistic on Nordstrom’s outlook. Omni-channel seems to be the topic of discussion among retailers and is spreading through the industry like an unstoppable virus. Target has begun implementation of their omni-channel approach with a smart phone app that allows you to create a shopping list from your phone mapping out the location of your items when you enter a Target store. Discussion on Target also includes the much talked about TargetCity, a location-based strategy that allows Target to reduce their square feet, shrinking into downsized outlets.  JC Penney is emerging or at least striving to become a market leader in the off price market, however TJX and Ross Stores are not to be counted out with both carrying a lot of momentum in 2012. Their is a consensus that JC Penney will need to do more than their usually coupon and low price strategy, leaning more toward the fashion customer (i.e., brand recognition). Forever 21 is on the fast track among their junior apparel segment with their fun fashion approach and are aggressively expanding their stores, with their Herald Square location reaching 30,000 square feet. Their 6 or 8 brands target a broad demographic range, from contemporary to plus sizes. Wet Seal seems to have slowed, or as some might call it a complete stop. They have a new board with no management and no clear direction. Wet Seal seems to have fallen out of the market, as far as fashion trends and their lack of focus on diversity is resulting in overlooked opportunities among Latinos, Asians and African Americans. Last but not least, Gap with all its potential, lacks that cool appeal and prices may be higher than consumers are willing to spend, given the fierce competition. If you are interested in listening to the podcast from the event or engaging Margaret or Gary in a 1 on 1 discussion please contact info@roulstonresearch.com.

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