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Friday, July 27, 2007

Has Macy's Struck Out In Chicago?

It must be Macy's week here at this blog. I reported on an accident at Macy's that was in Yesterday's Tribune about a man who fell to his death at the State Street store of Macy's. This week a basement food court at the State Street store was closed thanks to city inspectors but it was to be re-opened. A Macy's store is closing and this store was one of the first suburban outposts of the former Marshall Field's chain. Now this...
Stars like Beyonce helped Marshall Field's put on the glam and at least give the illusion that the store is what made State Street that great street.

Even though Marshall Field's was slumping, some shoppers feel like in Macy's, the glam is gone. There is no Dolce and Gabana and no Jimmy Choo.

"It's just a different mindset now,” said shopper Cindy Hearst. “Marshall Field's was the top of the line, so they're going to have to step up a little."

“When they replaced my Field’s card with a Macy's card it in the mail, I cut it up,” said Jenny Llakmani.

Even a year later shoppers characterize the Macy's brand as an out-of-towner with a whole lot of attitude.

“They have alienated a lot of shoppers and a lot of people say they don't want to go back,” said Brandon Glenn of Crain’s Chicago Business.

"They act like they don't like you, like you are bothering them,” said Sofia Felters.

On the street, if you say Macy’s many people think New York, while Marshall Field’s was uniquely Chicago.

“The only thing I've done in Macy's is continued to eat downstairs, which now I find is infested with flies,” said Rebecca, a student.

Since Macy's took over, sales on State Street alone are down about 20 percent, according to McMillan Doolittle, a retail consulting firm in the Loop.

“It's not just about the name, it's the merchandise, it's the service, but a lot of that is nostalgia,” said Keven Wilder of McMillan Doolitte. “But it's definitely been a cheapening of the merchandise that's there."

"Some people will tell you they need to conduct focus groups with their shoppers and figure out what Macy's is doing wrong and Field's did right,” Glenn said.

If they were to hold focus groups, Macy’s could expect an earful.

“I've not set foot in the store,” said Shannon Kelly. “I don't intend to… ever.”

“I've been there twice… dissatisfied with the service, selection and the condition of the store,” said one man in his 50s.

"The staff I talked to are very well trained saying there is going to be new merchandise coming,” Wilder said. “They will not acknowledge there is a problem… they are saying that management is listening to what they have to say.”
Macy's certainly having a tough time here in Chicago. My mother is a life long Field's shopper and she doesn't like the change because of the selections they currently have. It's not as "top of the line" as it once was.

When the rumblings of a change started I learned more about Macy's. From what I heard at that time Macy's seemed a like a step down. Though I was rather hoping that it wouldn't happen, It seems that it has.

Also some say that they moved too fast to change the name of the Field's chain. I can agree with that maybe there was a way to save the Marshall Field's name if they had done more studies instead of rushing it. Or who knows perhaps the Field's chain should have been a less expensive cousin of Bloomingdale's.

In any case what's next will we see a return to the famed green shopping bag that I'm actually missing right now? I want to hope so I wish I was one of those movers and shakers who can make this happen or at least do the necessary work to make it happen.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great posting about Macy's and Marshall Field's. Thought I would offer some more info for you to consider...

You write: "Also some say that they moved too fast to change the name of the Field's chain. I can agree with that maybe there was a way to save the Marshall Field's name if they had done more studies instead of rushing it. Or who knows perhaps the Field's chain should have been a less expensive cousin of Bloomingdale's."

Field's average sales per store was higher than Bloomingdales and Field's carried more designer apparel and high-end merchandise than did Bloomingdales, particularly at Field's landmark State Street store. Rather than being a less expensive cousin, Field's was the luxury leader.

By eliminating Field's, Macy's was able to eliminate competition for Bloomingdales. The better solution would have been to retain and build on Field's strong image. Field's competitors Saks, Neimans, Nordstrom and Barneys are all posting healthy sales increased each month while Macy's sales have taken a nosedive, particularly in former Field's locations.

As Field's, sales would likely have continued to grow as they were prior to Macy's takeover and everyone, including the City of Chicago, loses.

Michael said...

I prefer Lord & Taylor, as far as department stores go. The staff there is much friendlier and everything seems to be more organized.

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