Over the weekend I had a very educational visit to a newly opened Macy’s Backstage. To build this store Macy’s took a large chunk of square footage out of an existing store and opened as a store within a store. Having just grand opened, the store was clean and well organized. I was not sure what to expect but was not impressed. In my opinion T.J. Maxx, Marshall’s and Ross Stores have little to worry about. Seemingly the company went out on the market and picked up whatever was available to sell at low price points. Unfortunately Macy’s Backstage is a format that has no distinction in the discount sector. Here are a few observations:
- “Juice bar” for charging devices was cute and there were 2 people sitting there but I don’t see it driving sales.
- Customers were confused, I heard “They don’t take coupons but do take the Macy’s card?”and although there were signs, the entrances from within the store were fairly nondescript.
- Customers were looking for assistance but not much floor help (typical discount model). There were 3 or 4 people on checkout duty but I only saw 1 on the selling floor.
- Merchandise selection generally consisted of nothing you would find in a typical Macy’s store. This is the real issue:
- There were few (I saw none) designer or high end brands in the apparel areas.
- Shoes and accessories were slightly better but a $400 Versace bag in a locked case seemed out of place with other categories.
- The makeup category had mostly nondescript items you can buy anywhere.
- Furniture was mostly the cheap stuff you find in low end outlets.
- Home accessories were boring. The section had none of the sense of adventure and style that you find in T.J. Maxx for example.
When this format was announced I was not too excited but I thought that Macy’s would find a way to put its own fingerprints on the discount market. Unfortunately it has utterly failed. It lacked a sense of being anything special at all. Its presence or lack thereof in any market would be of no consequence. Fortunately its early on in the roll out. Better put some of the Magic of Macy’s into the backstage experience!
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