NEW YORK — Bloomingdale’s expects a double-digit gain for fall, but it’s not all based on an easier comparison to last year’s severely depressed season, officials said.
Gains will also come from fashions with embellishment and color, savvier marketing of categories that are selling, namely footwear, contemporary sportswear and accessories.
There’s more uncertainty on outerwear and men’s wear, and tourism, which accounts for 30 percent of the business at Bloomingdale’s 59th Street, remains way down. The flagship has been running 5 to 6 percent softer than the rest of the chain, but ahead of the plan, year-to-date, according to Michael Gould, chairman and chief executive.
"Planning for fall is obviously difficult because of the enormous tragedy," said Gould. "It threw the entire fall off and the business leading up to Sept. 11 was not particularly strong. So how do you plan for this fall? Do you plan to get 80 percent of it? Ninety percent of it? Do you get it all back? That’s the challenge. On top of that, there are six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, but we are projecting strong increases against last year," said to be exceeding 10 percent.
Bloomingdale’s prognosis for the fall seems more upbeat than the message from its parent Federated Department Stores, which on Wednesday cut same-store projections for the fall to 1 to 3 percent, from a previous guidance of 3 to 3.5 percent. Federated also operates the Macy’s East, Macy’s West, Burdines, Lazarus/Rich’s, and Bon Marche divisions.
While tourism has not returned to the levels of 2000, business in the metropolitan area, including the White Plains and Short Hills stores — units that don’t get many tourists — is good, Gould said. "We are getting a good reaction to our fashion statements. If you look at our rtw, fashion accessories, shoes and handbags, they’re focused statements made with conviction. Contemporary sportswear, ladies’ footwear, fashion accessories — we’ll really push those."
He noted a certain caution about outerwear, but said the company "feels strongly about the bridge portion of men’s."Inventories were 12 to 15 percent less for spring, and turns were 12 to 13 percent faster than a year ago, with "dramatically" reduced markdowns, Gould said.
"We will try to do the same thing in the fall. Our sell-throughs at regular price in the spring have been dramatically better," he said. "It’s a major initiative at Bloomingdale’s — to turn faster, get fresher merchandise, day in and day out, and a better ROI [return on investment]. "Being less promotional helps us drive a better business."
"Early fall stocks can be rather serious, so for some fun and some offbeat looks, we’ve created Hairspray shops in our New York, Chicago, Beverly Center, Aventura and Roosevelt Field stores," said Kal Ruttenstein, senior vice president of fashion direction. The shops, which went in Aug. 9, sell dresses, skirts, blouses, accessories and intimate apparel inspired by the late Fifties/early Sixties and the musical "Hairspray," written by John Waters. The show opened last Thursday. Looks include full skirts with crinoline, cocktail dresses with scooped necks and fitted bodices, plaid skirts, T-shirts and large sizes.
Subsequent shops will be Kaleidoscope, for bright knits, sportswear and accessories; and shops that tie in to Hollywood or Broadway productions, including an upcoming James Bond shop, featuring tuxedos and accessories, and a "La Boheme" shop, inspired by an updated musical version of the opera coming to Broadway.
The store has stocked up on Burberry long wool mufflers, private label mufflers, vests with trim from North Face, Anne Klein ski sweaters, as well as chunky sweaters, velvet ties, and T-shirts embroidered with reproduced Lesage sunburst and crab patterns, priced $660. Bloomingdale’s purchased the patterns in France for the reproductions.
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