Macy's Minneapolis store
If a Macy’s store closes and no one was shopping there anyway, does that actually help the bottom line?
Here we go again. Macy’s announced today that it will close 100 stores nationwide by next year due to declining sales. That’s about 15 percent of its 675 locations, and follows the shuttering of 40 stores just a few months ago. No word yet on specific locations.
Macy’s has 10 stores in Minnesota—that includes two home stores, and locations beyond the metro in Rochester and St. Cloud. The whole point of this decision is to save the company money, and the best way to do that would be to unload its most valuable real estate. The 1.2 million square foot downtown Minneapolis store is among its 10 largest properties nationwide. Floors 6-11 have been sitting dormant for years now, and attempts to lease the space have failed. Last year, Macy’s announced plans to form “joint partnerships” to redevelop at least part of Nicollet Mall's tarnished crown jewel, but no news on that, so far. Why not offer the vacant space to makers and other start-up brands for nominal rent in the interim to bring some energy and excitement to the building, to connect with a generation that finds no compelling reason to shop there?
Here’s the deal: however Macy’s saves itself money in the short term isn’t going to jumpstart profits in the long term unless serious, sustained attention is paid to store experience. Macy’s is not a pleasant place to shop. Many stores look rundown. Even the newer ones, like Ridgedale, are messy, chaotic. One gets the impression that if something breaks, it probably won't get fixed (case in point: the Signature Kitchen at Southdale). The sales associates, when you can find them, are beaten down. It’s not their fault the carpet is stained, the merchandise is mostly mediocre, and the promotions are incessant. The overall experience feels dated and out of touch with today’s customers, who actually are willing to leave their laptops, but pickier when they do—demanding a personal connection, entertainment, and a feeling that something special is happening. Something you couldn’t get online, or at another store down the street.
Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren knows this, in theory.
“We operate in a fast-changing world, and our company is moving forward decisively to build further on Macy’s heritage as a preferred shopping destination for fashion, quality, value, and convenience,” he said in a statement today. “This involves doing things differently and making tough decisions as we position ourselves to serve customers who have high expectations of their favorite stores, online sites and apps.”
Bluemercury department at Macy's Southdale
Macy’s says it plans to add more vendor shops, like Bluemercury—the upscale beauty brand Macy’s bought last year. But even that effort is getting botched in the execution. Bluemercury opened at Macy’s Southdale store more than a month ago. Did you know that? Probably not, unless you were already at that store, and went looking for socks. The new Bluemercury department is tucked behind cosmetics, where hosiery used to be, without signage to point shoppers there, and without any apparent hype. Why didn't they invite Macy's cardholders for mini-makeovers? Why didn't they offer to host parties for women's groups or charities to make community connections? Where was the big beauty bash to get product fanatics engaged?
Also, the department feels too big, believe it or not. Don't get me wrong, the products are great, the fixtures look nice enough, and the staff seems knowledgable, but it's too spread out. Macy's has failed to re-create the boutique experience of a stand-alone Bluemercury store, like the one across the street at Galleria, where it's bright, cozy, and friendly. The fact that Bluemercury at Macy's carries some of the same Estee Lauder products that are available at the Estee Lauder counter just down the aisle is confusing. Where are the signs to explain that these are Bluemercury favorites? What are they doing to connect the dots between this branded department and the rest of cosmetics?
This, like so many Macy's initiatives, feels half hearted. It’s a bummer. Which, unfortunately, is what Macy’s has trained consumers to expect.
A picture says it all: the Macy's Visitor Center in Minneapolis—without staff to help the visitors.