Sunday, January 23, 2011

Saks Fifth Avenue: Store Closures Becoming Common

Over the past few years, Saks Fifth Avenue has closed many of their American branch stores. Their most recent closing is in Denver: Saks Fifth Avenue's Denver Store to Close

Saks, San Diego, Summer 2010
I was in San Diego in September, 2010, only to find that Saks Fifth Avenue at Fashion Valley Shopping Centre had closed. I gazed into the empty shell of a store, noticing a dated (though lovely) interior.  Saks' closest competitor, Neiman Marcus, has almost never closed a store.

Saks Fifth Avenue Flagship Store, Manhattan

The flagship Saks in Manhattan is fabulous. It's about 660,000 square feet. Its first floor has ceiling so high you could fly a blimp. Ok I'm exaggerating. The second floor carries fabulous women's designer sportswear and the uber-fabulous third floor is one of the best women's designer departments in the world. It's one of a handful of department stores carrying Louis Vuitton ready-to-wear, for example. Saks Third Floor/Vuitton.  It has a large women's shoe salon, covering almost an entire floor and having its own Zip Code. Its men's store is two floors and is legendary.

Renovated 3rd Floor at Saks Fifth Avenue, Manhattan

Shoe Floor at Saks Fifth Avenue, Manhattan

My first encounter with a Saks Fifth Avenue store was in 1991. I was in Minneapolis, and got some time to myself to hit the shops downtown. My aunt had told me about the magic of Saks, so I visited. Being from a small-town, it was like escalator rides of glamour. I'll never forget my first visit to Saks. My tastes are now more refined, but it also appears Saks has since lost its way.  

And that Minneapolis store has since closed.

Saks Strategy Makeover

Saks may benefit from a better branding strategy that includes more unique store environments.  Creating an interior environment that is both glamorous and 'only Saks' might benefit, including references to its Manhattan store.  Differentiating store interiors from competitors, especially Neiman Marcus, would be key. Saks then would have to (continue to) follow up with excellent customer service and (more) exclusive brands. This is easier said than done, I realize, and I hope Saks survives and thrives.

In September, 2010, I visited Saks at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, California. It was clean and contemporary, but didn't feel much different than a 'nice' Macy's or a Lord & Taylor store. Saks could have benefited by creating a 'punch' of luxury, references to Manhattan, Hollywood maybe, the past, unique boutiques, music, and anything else that might make customers say "I like this and I want to continue shopping here". 

I didn't, and I ended up heading over to Bloomingdale's.

1 comment:

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