New canopies bearing the Macy's logo hang at their State Street store in the former Marshall Field's building in Chicago, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2006. Federated Department Stores is converting more than 400 department stores across the nation to Macy's today, including Filene's  in Massachusetts and  the 154-year-old Marshall Field's store on Chicago's State Street. (AP Photo/Brian Kersey)

TUCSON, Ariz. — Macy’s Inc. president and chief executive officer Jeff Gennette didn’t sugarcoat the competitive landscape.

Gennette, who recently succeeded Terry J. Lundgren to head the company, opened the final day of the annual Global Retailing Conference with a plan of how he planned to reimagine Macy’s.

”It’s a very competitive landscape,” he said before the conference’s audience of industry executives and University of Arizona students looking to enter the industry. “Certainly, the U.S. consumer spending is increasing, but it’s changing and it’s being spent in different places. The competition is intensifying. I think with pricing transparency it’s changing the whole notion of value….There’s huge seismic shifts happening in the patterns and formats by which we do retail. You all know that the amount of square footage per capita in the U.S. is quite high and we probably have too much square footage. We’ve got new, emerging concepts like off-price and outlet and vendor direct and certainly the pure plays all popping in.”

All that said, Gennette said he sees opportunity, pointing out a few interesting statistics, including that 90 percent of consumers are likely to purchase something when they’re directly involved with a sales associate. He also said 36 percent of Macy’s customers do not want to wait to have product they want shipped to their homes.

“The opportunity for experience is bigger than ever,” Gennette said.

The executive went on to detail the strategies he’s testing, laying out plans he largely disclosed in greater detail to WWD last month just ahead of the leadership change at Macy’s.

At the center of that has been a narrowing of focus on the company’s best customers, gathering data and testing tactics from there.

“We need to stabilize our core business, which has been falling off in the last couple years,” he said. “We need to continue the strong growth of our mobile and digital and need to find new paths for growth.”

The company released new advertising in the spring that’s focused more on brand in hopes of cutting the cord with the idea that Macy’s is all about promotions. More marketing, with more of the spend going to digital, will roll out in the fall.

The company’s also working with fewer suppliers, bringing the off-price business into its stores, testing next-generation stores and beefing up exclusive product. An example of the latter would be Cynthia Rowley’s soon-to-launch capsule for Macy’s.

“We are in the business of creating a desire so it really is this balance between art and science,” Gennette said.

For More on Macy’s in WWD:

Macy’s Stands By Its Men

Moving Up: Jeff Gennette on His Plans for Macy’s

Macy’s Relocates, Reopens in Century City

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