DATA BASE

Q+A
WWD: What is your outlook for holiday apparel business online?
Walter Loeb, retail consultant, Loeb Associates: “I am not expecting a strong season on the Internet. I believe the period will be driven by promotions in the stores. As a result, customers’ attention will be diverted and the Internet will have to match it.
“There will be a fight over the customer’s attention, and there’s a chance that Internet business will stagnate during the holiday period. Traditional retail sales may be quite strong and, therefore, online retailers will be weak unless they compete aggressively to promote.
“Overall, I think the sales figures at many Web sites are infinitesimal and the costs are exorbitant. People are admitting that they’re not making their top-line plan and their bottom line stinks. So there is increasing scrutiny over whether it’s worth it.
“I believe that by the end of the year, a number of Web sites will go down. I expect the long-term survivors online to include Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Gap, Old Navy, J.C. Penney and Lands’ End.”

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