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Ho, Ho – Oh, No!

The Christmas surprise Macy’s definitely did not need



The 12 days of Christmas aren’t lords a-leaping, swans a-swimming and three French hens for everyone.

For retailers, there’s a palpable holiday malaise: Will the 12 days of Christmas bail us out of a rotten fiscal year or plunge us more deeply onto the path to bankruptcy?

And, increasingly over the years, exactly when over the Thanksgiving weekend should retailers reopen their stores? The holiday opening has been steadily creeping backward: from the regular Friday morning opening;  to Friday at dawn; then to Friday at midnight; and, eventually, to Thursday evening, right after the turkey bones are laid to rest.

This year, a surprising number of retailers stuck their heels in the ground and said no, they wouldn’t open until normal business hours Friday morning. The reason most gave was to allow their employees to stay home with their families for the most family-centric of all holidays.

That was what they said. The real reason, I suspect, was that immediately after the dishes and the Redskins were put away, most family members had already taken out their smartphones and were online surfing for gifts. That, after all, is what shopping has come to. Retail analysts spend less time focusing on Black Friday sales and more on Cyber Monday activity.

So, if the retailer has done a good enough job marketing its door-buster sales throughout November, it can wait for e-tail orders to come in without, in fact, busting any doors.


The sad but true state of retailing today.

One retailer who has not had a happy time with “the sad but true state of retailing today” is Macy’s. Once the impresario of mid-Manhattan shopping, then the pioneer of national shopping mall dominance, Macy’s has been reduced to an industry cautionary tale – the one about the fate of dinosaurs.

Earlier in the year, Macy’s had to announce it was closing 100 stores. Macy’s didn’t need another embarrassing headline. But it got one anyway.

On Black Friday,’s shopping portals shut down.

Visitors to the site were shunted to a page citing “heavier traffic than normal,” with a countdown clock telling shoppers when they could return to the main site. Customers also encountered delays on the retailer’s mobile site, which redirected them to a page that stated the site was “temporarily unavailable due to routine site maintenance.”

And it wasn’t just Macy’s. According to reports, the Victoria’s Secret website suffered delays and shoppers at Express and Pier 1 complained on social media about errors and slowness on those sites.


But somehow the problem is bigger with Macy’s. If it’s already being branded as obsolete by some, the last thing a dinosaur needs is yet more suggestion that extinction might be on the way.

As a journalist, writer, editor and commentator, Steve Kaufman has been watching the store design industry for 20 years. He has seen the business cycle through retailtainment, minimalism, category killers, big boxes, pop-ups, custom stores, global roll-outs, international sourcing, interactive kiosks, the emergence of China, the various definitions of “branding” and He has reported on the rise of brand concept shops, the demise of brand concept shops and the resurgence of brand concept shops. He has been an eyewitness to the reality that nothing stays the same, except the retailer-shopper relationship.



MasterClass: ‘Re-Sparkling’ Retail: Using Store Design to Build Trust, Faith and Brand Loyalty

HOW CAN WE EMPOWER and inspire senior leaders to see design as an investment for future retail growth? This session, led by retail design expert Ian Johnston from Quinine Design, explores how physical stores remain unmatched in the ability to build trust, faith, and loyalty with your customers, ultimately driving shareholder value.

Presented by:
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