Hello-Hello, welcome to a Wednesday here at The Prepatorium. Is everyone
melting all aglow in the beastly warm temps?
We begin with a question raised in today’s Journal; the paper asks if the store has become “More Target Than Tar-zhay?”
A series of recent stumbles at Target Corp. has some retail experts questioning whether the cheap-chic discounter is losing its cachet.
The chain that made it trendy to shop for low-priced designer clothing and mod lamps while picking up detergent and toothpaste has been struggling to gain back its pre-recession sales strength.”
The story goes on to detail struggles the retailer is having getting customers to buy clothing and home items, two categories that not only provide higher profits, they helped set Le Boutique Targét apart from Walmart and other discount stores. More from Ann Zimmerman’s story:
Some of Target’s struggles may also owe to the changing competitive landscape. Kohl’s Corp. and J.C. Penney Co. in recent years have taken a page from the Target playbook, adding low-price designer clothes from Vera Wang, Ralph Lauren and others.
We chat about Target with some frequency in this space, and have been vocal about quality concerns related to the company’s designer collaborations. We have also said the retailer still doesn’t seem to have recovered from Isaac Mizrahi’s departure, he had a very deft design sense that translated well for Target’s demographic. To be sure, there are still fun, fashionable items, like the Merona Rain Boots shown below.
But the boots are not an original design, to say they are “derivative” of popular classics would be an understatement. There’s no question the collaborations have been very interesting to watch, but when it comes to the bread-and-butter styles the retailer needs to offer every day, the confident, whimsical touch seems to have disappeared. Back to the article:
“In the past year, middle and upper-end retailers bounced back while Target lagged behind. “Macy’s is winning in apparel and Bed Bath & Beyond has picked up a lot of market share,” said Ms. Shapira. Home furnishings are “doing very poorly at Target. In a world that no longer has Linens ‘N Things, you would think Target would have picked up some market share.” (Linens ‘N Things closed its stores in 2008 but exists online.)”
This makes us wonder, are you still popping in to shop at Target? Have you decreased your visits, perhaps transferred spending to other stores? Or is everything much the same?
We have a few more retail-related tidbits, beginning with tough news for Talbots, the company’s stock was down yesterday by 40%. Women’s Wear Daily has more:
“…the company said sales and traffic have continued to “trend negative” so far in the second quarter, when it expects continuing high levels of promotion and markdown activity.”
“Increased promotional activity” is marketing speak for price cuts, while that can mean great savings for those looking for bargains at the struggling retailer, long-term it doesn’t bode well for the brand. This is how the Talbots’ home page looks today, obviously a promotion is underway:
If you visit Talbots’ Facebook page you will see a broad range of customer comments on the ‘wall,’ many of them referencing quality concerns as well as design and/or style issues. Recognizing that human nature dictates negative comments will outweigh the positive, the Facebook wall still presents a capsule look at a troubled brand, we hope Talbots is able to turn things around.
Our other ‘shopping business’ headline involves Lilly Pulitzer’s new owner, Oxford Industries, that company also reported financial results this week. Those numbers were very good, exceeding already-positive expectations. Much of the increase came from solid sales at Tommy Bahama (also owned by Oxford), but Lilly Pulitzer contributed to the growth as well, here is more from WWD:
The company credited the sales growth to trendy spring and summer product, as well as to a burgeoning effort to expand the brand’s consumer base through digital and social media efforts.
Speaking of Lilly, many fans are headed to the Warehouse Sale that starts tomorrow in Pennsylvania; if not able to make that event, online discounter RueLaLa is doing another Lilly flash sale beginning at 11am (EDT) on Friday.
For those not familiar with RueLaLa, the firm offers online-only sales; the invitation only (cough-cough) events run for a limited time, usually three days. A word of caution however, popular pieces can be gone within 2 -3 minutes once a sale opens. (If in need of an invitation, just click here.)
There are actually several more prep-friendly events this week at RueLaLa, including a Sperry sale that starts at 11am tomorrow (Thursday, 6/9), as well as a sale of Bill’s Khakis and Atlantis WeatherGear.
The Consort has a keen interest in the Bill’s sale, we’re guessing he will be firmly planted in front of his desktop at 11am tomorrow, that’s when the sale gets underway. In addition to the Lilly sale Friday, there is also a sale on Preppy Plates. Because this could be confusing, we’ll recap the RueLaLa sales:
- Thursday sales: Sperry Top-siders, Bill’s Khakis, Atlantis WeatherGear
- Friday sales: Lilly Pulitzer, St. John swimwear and Preppy Plates
A quick note about a new line of ties and scarves from a company called Figs. We mention them not only because they make handcrafted goods of very high quality right here in the USA…
We also mention them because of their philanthropic policies: for every tie or scarf sold a uniform is donated to a schoolchild in Kenya or Tanzania. From a post in Valet:
“The brand’s founder, Heather Hasson, is an avid traveler and was in Africa a few years ago when she learned that many kids there weren’t able to attend school simply due to a lack of funds needed to purchase a requisite uniform.”
We first learned about the brand over at our friend Madeleine’s blog, Ms. Hasson is her cousin. Click here to read more at Madeleine’s blog or here to see the Valet post in its entirety.
For those seeking a little something for Father’s Day, we offer two random ideas, the first we fell upon while searching for something else entirely at Jack Spade.
The company offers several accessories with a nautical touch, including a business card holder and passport case in the firm’s embossed anchor pattern.
The second idea is one that The Consort and I love, Baseball Cufflinks created from an official MLB baseball that was used in an actual major league game.
We found them at J. Peterman, at $150 they are not inexpensive, but they do look nifty.
Goodbye until next time!