Roulston Research January 31st Department Stores, Discount and Home Retail Roundtable with Former Kohl’s and May Department Stores Executives

February 5, 2013

With the holiday season over and the dust has settled, Dick Seesel and Jan Rogers Kniffen, two retail veterans examined and discussed key trends and outlooks for the 2013 year during Roulston Research’s recent Retail Roundtable. Dick is the Principal of Retailing In Focus and Former Senior Vice President at Kohl’s while Jan is Principal of J. Rogers Kniffen Worldwide Enterprises LLC and Former Senior VP and Treasurer at May Department Stores. Some of the key discussion points included how the downturn in holiday sales affected retailers and who were the winners and losers this holiday season. They discussed big box retailers omni-channel strategies impact on customer experience as a response to Amazon and other online retailers’ onslaught and how retailers like Macy’s seeing 57% online growth this past holiday season. What does this mean for overall big-box formats? There is a consensus that the beginning of January sales exceeded expectations, which is expected given the end of the holiday season and with record breaking gift card sales this season, however, midway through January sales began to evaporate among most retailers, which begs to question, was the sales growth in the beginning of January and the slow down thereafter simply a after holiday sales clearance flare up or was their some underneath factors at work.

One of the most talked about topics these last few years has been how internet retailers have begun to cannibalize brick and mortar retailers. Companies like Macy’s, Kohl’s, and Nordstrom have each implemented their own ecommerce strategy to take advantage of this continuing trend, meeting moderate success, even though some may have speculated that this strategy cannibalizes their brick and mortar sales. In addition, one of the main points they touched on is how omni-channel may be the answer a lot of big retailers needs by allowing companies like Macy’s, a major proponent of the omni-channel concept to leverage their ecommerce strategy against their brick and mortar strategy using their stores as distribution centers; furthermore, turning cannibalization into synergy. J.C. Penney and Target both appears be the lagging in the ecommerce market compared to their competitors. Retailers’ strategically positioning local big box stores as a distribution center as part of an omni-channel strategy is a trend that will continue to become the obvious choice in future years to come. One of the biggest issues predicted by the presenters is the big boxes may be sticky and a lot of retailers may have to reduce their geographical footprint by closing many store to reduce overhead. Specific companies mentioned include TJX, Kohl’s, Macy’s and J.C. Penney, with J.C. Penney operating strategy having proved disappointing due to their low operating margins and weak sales; however, the presenters are more partially optimistic in future years as J.C. Penney refines their store within a store strategy. Kohl’s performance due to their promotional campaign seems to work well for their credit card customers; however, capturing cash spenders may prove difficult. If you are interested in listening to the podcast from the event or engaging Dick or Jan in a 1 on 1 discussion please contact

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