January 2012 - 1st Annual Retail Cluelist
Inspired by CNN's "Ridiculist" and the Award Season that is upon us (the Golden Globes, the Oscars, the NFL playoffs, and a country Music award program that seems to haunt us every other week), Retail Concepts is proud to announce its first annual "Cluelist". The "Cluelist" is to be awarded to the five most embarrassingly clueless retail stores, and the candidates, as you can imagine were many, but we feel these five were particularly adept at doing the wrong thing in the wrong way throughout 2011. Our initial plan was to rank the retailers as votes came in, however, none of these losers were capable of being in first place and it ended in a five-way tie for last place.
Here they are in no particular order, our favorite, yet clueless stores of 2011:
In a world that includes American Girl, Disney and Build-A-Bear (and even though Build-A-Bear has seemed to have lost their fastball, they are still galaxies ahead of Toys"R"Us in the hearts and minds of consumers)...how does Toys"R"Us even exist? Entering one of these behemoth warehouses is like a walking in to a third world military PX. Their stores are dirty and lack personality; there is no sense of brand, no fun and no acknowledgement that it is a store for kids, let alone a consumer for that matter. Toys"R"Us lacks play areas and there is negative interaction with merchandise. Don't you want to see how high your "Superball" can bounce? The fact of the matter is, it isn't like they are doing things wrong, but it is like they are not doing anything at all: where is the thought? The originality? The creativity? Shockingly, Toys"R"Us has performed OK in recent months but one look at their stores informs even the unsophisticated that this store has no future.
Speaking of no future, how many consecutive quarters of decreasing sales has it been? Yes, while Piperlime and Athleta are showing promise, they are like little speedboats heading in the right direction while the big aircraft carriers Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy are close to running aground. Gap stores are now feature athletic/workout/yoga outfits and while it is January and the population is weight and workout conscious, we were told the Gap was going back to its blue jeans roots. No one thinks Gap when they think yoga, we think of the super hot and trendy Lululemon. Will GAP be selling ski wear in February because North Face is hot during the cold winter months? We think there are not too many "Januarys" and "Februarys" left for this once great and iconic now run amuck.
For twenty five years, everyone outside of Chicago has been saying Sears should drop all their other products and focus on the hard goods only, Kenmore and Craftsman in particular. Kmart was a mess when they bought Sears and now they are even messier...imagine that. They have managed to destroy Lands End which was formerly a strong multi channel brand. They also own 6% of the Gap, a classic misery loves company situation.
Made in America is what they hung their hat on. However, their products are made in America with an owner/CEO who is a pervert meets oddball. Plus one must add very questionable ethics to the list (products made in the USA by illegal immigrants). No one felt too bad about this firm when they ran into financial difficulties in 2010. Forever 21, H&M, Zara and the gang took away all their customers and most of us were really quite pleased to watch AA's demise.
Instead of loving and respecting the older woman who wants classic quality clothing, Talbots continually disses her and sells her out for a younger women. Then they expect this core customer to stay and shop despite these changes. In actuality, she didn't stay and younger woman simply find the store boring. Management set up a store that looks like it has one color palate, one designer and one shipment from Asia per season; can you say: "visually BORING"? The mark up on all the imports looks great but as soon as you can't sell it at regular price, things aren't looking so great any more. Talbots, we have the answer for you! If you reading this call us at 781-781-7905 )assuming you are still paying the phone bills and can afford to make the call). In one season we could make the Red Door mean something again.