Up until the 17th century, the word “apple” meant all fruit other than berries but including nuts.
In Latin, the words for “apple” and “evil” are similar. Mālum is the word for “apple;” mălum is the word for “an evil or a misfortune.”
As a result of the apple’s association with Adam and Eve’s story, it has become a loaded symbol that represents, among other things, temptation, sin, immortality, seduction, the forbidden, and knowledge.
Nordstrom tightens its belt for the long haul. (Nordstrom Inc)
Footwear News September 6, 1993 | McAllister, Robert SEATTLE–Today’s retail environment has resulted in some serious dunkings for Nordstrom Inc., but while others have floundered and drowned, the retailer has always managed to kick its way back to the surface and stay afloat amid the turbulence.
The stalled economies in the retailer’s home state of Washington and in Southern California, which generates the largest portion of all Nordstrom’s sales, coupled with changing consumer attitudes have created some of the most dangerous waves for this well-respected specialty store operator. There is little doubt that Nordstrom, which consistently bucks the industry norm, is facing major challenges as it embarks on a second wave of growth in the South, Midwest and Northeast. website nordstrom coupon code
Unlike competitors, who became enmeshed in the vicious cycle of everyday sales and cut back on sales personnel, Nordstrom has continued to stage three regular sales annually and has maintained lofty selling costs due to an attractive employee incentive program. The Seattle-based retailer’s legendary stockpile of inventory, averaging anywhere from 65,000-100,000 pairs, and reliance on sales associates to sell the vast amounts of shoes also set it apart.
Though still in the black, Nordstrom executives acknowledge that markdowns and selling costs are hampering the specialty chain’s overall growth. At last May’s annual meeting, co-chairman Bruce Nordstrom said employee wages are one of Nordstrom’s biggest expenses. Sales associates in shoes can earn up to $50 hourly during sales and their annual salaries can average from $40,000 to $50,000. But, one analyst reported that Nordstrom has become more stringent with employees. A Southern California shoe buyer, a 12-year Nordstrom veteran, was recently let go for failing to make quotas.
Nordstrom is, in fact, tightening its belt. Like most retailers today, the 69-store chain is seeking to whittle down its selling, general and administrative expenses, which accounted for 26.4 percent of sales in ’92. Despite industry rumors to the contrary, Nordstrom executives maintained that the retailer’s decentralized buying operation will remain.
Meanwhile, the shoe division is still regarded by industry observes as stable and one of Nordstrom’s best run–if not the best run — divisions. While some vendors indicated the retailer may be overbought in some stores, the consensus is that the shoe departments are alive and well, but in an adjustment stage. “In Brass Plum, they had to correct themselves for the buying of platform and funky shoes,” said Harvey Kalikow, principal, Studio HD2, Newport Beach, Calif., referring to Nordstrom’s junior shoe department. “(Some of those items) didn’t gravitate to their main customer and they had to correct for it. But we had a great spring with them.” Kalikow noted that some Nordstrom stores have been shifting to more basic goods in the Brass Plum departments, often the testing ground for new vendors and fashion forward styles. Several vendors suggested the reason for the shift may be that Nordstrom’s shoe inventories have been accumulating at alarming rates. Still, others such as Joe Ouaknine, national sales manager for Charles David of California, Culver City, Calif., denied knowledge of any inventory pile-ups at Nordstrom.
Inventory problems do exist at Nordstrom, however. They are linked primarily to the ready-to-wear division where most of the retailer’s private-label product is featured, said a report by the Seattle-based securities house Ragen MacKenzie. The report said private label shoes continued to do well. Nordstrom, however, reported overall inventories for the year-to-year period ending April 30 rose 7.8 percent to $624 million, about twice the industry average.
“I think they looked at Clinton’s election and thought that (consumer confidence) would grow. When that didn’t really pan out, they ended up in an overbought situation,” said an executive for a West Coast shoe resource. In fact, many vendors said Nordstrom’s inventory situation became so alarming in the second quarter of this year that buyers called to cancel large early fall orders.
Industry analysts and Nordstrom executives disagreed with such comments. “Our inventories are not a problem and are particularly strong in shoes. They’re pretty much in line with last year,” Nordstrom co-president John Whitacre told FN. “We’re having a good year for shoes.” Added a senior Nordstrom shoe executive: “We always have a buyer that is little high, but corporately we’ve never had a major inventory problem. With 250 buyers, there’s going to be someone who’s anxious, especially with so many (vendor) promos going on. It’s easy to focus on one (vendor).” Many industry executives pointed out that Nordstrom’s extremely successful July anniversary sale rapidly corrected any build-up in inventory.
Last year, shoes accounted for 19 percent of Nordstrom’s total $3.42 billion sales pie, about a 7 percent jump over 1991 shoe sales. Industry analysts said margins in the shoe department should improve after a computerized Management Information System (MIS) and inventory control program is installed system-wide late next year. Although agreeing MIS should improve inventory levels in all areas, Jennifer Black Groves, an analyst with Black & Co., Portland, Ore. said that even without the addition the shoe division is among the best managed areas. “The shoe departments will probably be among the last to receive MIS because that is the department that is extremely well-run and profitable,” Groves said.
“Their (shoe buyers) are ordering light for fall,” Groves noted, “not because of heavy inventories but so they have the ability to add freshness to the stores when they want to.” Still, a Nordstrom shoe executive admitted that managing the stores’ inventory is far from easy. The retailer is well known for its massive vendor selections as well as for its famed customer service. During a recent sale in South Coast Plaza Nordstrom store in Costa Mesa, Calif., the three-story stock room for shoes featured no less than 90,000 pairs. see here nordstrom coupon code
Multiple shoe sales are the norm at Nordstrom and the business this generates for key vendors is why so many companies constantly try to become part of the stores’ matrix. For example, Dexter Shoe Co., West Newton, Mass., sold 338,000 pair to Nordstrom last year. But, many vendors say their success does not come easily–dealing with Nordstrom can prove even more difficult than dealing with any of the other major retailers. A decentralized buying network and a reputation for driving some of the hardest bargains in the industry make it tough going for vendors. Exclaimed one athletic shoe executive: “They wanted $10,000 from us to be in their catalog.” Still, Kalikow of Studio HD2 holds a different view: “It is harder work, but more pleasing. You have to visit a lot of people, but it’s easier to have more opinions. They’ve given a small company like us great opportunities.” Nordstrom will have to rely on its toughness if it is to survive in California, particularly in Southern California where the retailer has about half of its total square footage. Sales per square foot, however, remain the highest among competitors who also inhabit the region’s major malls, reported First Boston Corp., New York. The California recession has prompted Nordstrom to halt expansion into the state, although one unit will open in Santa Anita next year. Future expansion will head eastward into areas such as Detroit, Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Dallas and into cities in Illinois, New York and New Jersey.
To compensate for a sour market out West and a stronger volume market, Nordstrom is exploring new ventures. The retailer is planning to debut several mail order catalogs next year and will eventually move into interactive television shopping.
Also, the first Nordstrom Factory Direct (NFD) store opened near Philadelphia last month and sales were above plan. NFD, which has its own buyers and does not carry excess inventory like Rack stores, may be expanded at a more aggressive rate because it has such low overhead costs. A Moody’s corporate credit report indicated that Nordstrom is also considering expanding the Rack stores at a rate of one unit for every three Nordstrom store openings.
“If you add up all their strengths, they do many things well. They consistently analyze opportunities and ways to become better,” said Dan Allen, a group president at Intershoe, New York. “At this point you have to do all the fundamentals well and know when to bring in the items. I think they do a very good job at knowing what they want to represent to the customer.” Nordstrom’s Whitacre admitted it will be rough going in the years ahead, but is confident the retailer will continue to keep its head above water. Noted Whitacre: “I want to be able to look back (on) this time five years from now to see how we did. These are very difficult times. But we’re here for the long term not the short term.” McAllister, Robert
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