By  on September 6, 2008

While the My Macy's initiative created this year intensified efforts nationally to tailor merchandise to local markets, serving a diverse market is nothing new for the Macy’s Florida division.

“We’ve focused on localization for a long time,” says Julie Greiner, chairman and chief executive of the Macy’s Florida division, adding that there is a great difference between South Florida and other parts of the state. “We have climate considerations, varying local markets and tourism—both domestic and international—to consider. We can’t look at the division monolithically.”

Created in 2005, Macy’s Florida boasts 60 stores across the state, plus one in Puerto Rico. Two new Macy’s stores soon will be added—one in Tampa in October, and a Sarasota store next year.

Although the company opened five Macy’s stores in South Florida in the early Eighties, the majority of today’s retail space stems from the former Burdines department store chain. Burdines opened its original downtown Miami store in 1898, and expanded over the next 100 years to more than 50 stores. The retailer became part of Federated in 1956. When Federated merged with Allied Stores in 1991, Burdines absorbed Maas Brothers/Jordan Marsh, another Florida chain. The store nameplate changed to Burdines-Macy’s in 2003, before becoming Macy’s in 2005.

With a diverse, yet specific, clientele at each store, merchandising and product varies greatly. Macy’s Florida has buyers and planners who make modifications for each store. In ultratrendy South Beach, for example, maxi- and minidresses and boots are bestsellers. Dadeland, the division flagship, with its 421,000-square-foot fashion store and 209,000-square-foot home store, has a broader array of product, as do similar powerhouse stores in Aventura and Boca Raton. At Dadeland, located in an area of Miami that includes a mix of locals and many part-time resident Latin Americans, product is skewed heavily toward contemporary lines, with key brands such as BCBG and Ed Hardy mixed with private label brand INC International Concepts.

Florida’s west coast, with markets like Naples, serves a more tailored, less trendy customer, with bestsellers including lines such as Lauren. Northern areas of the state, including the state capital, Tallahassee, and Gainesville, home of the University of Florida, are big on junior looks, with lines such as Guess and the private American Rag, as well as career departments, with suits for men and women, along with classic lines such as Lauren.

Tourism and climate informs everything at Macy’s Florida. In popular vacation areas from South Beach to Orlando, resortwear—not to mention sandals and beach towels—is a must, along with year-round swimwear assortments. Macy’s also partners with tourist companies and cruise lines, with incentives to drive traffic in those stores.

Perhaps more than any other region, Macy’s Florida customers demand wear-now clothing. For South Florida’s subtropical climate, lightweight fabrics and color are de rigueur. When sweaters and coats are selling elsewhere, wraps and open-toe shoes are still going strong. Spring merchandise begins in late October and lasts through January. Northern Florida has more seasonal changes, but still no need for flannel, wool or heavy coats.

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