In mid-August of last year, warning signs at the Seattle headquarters of Nordstrom Inc. first became apparent. Up to that point, the upscale apparel retailer, with $14 billion in annual sales, had enjoyed several years of steady sales growth and expansion. Its stock had climbed to a record high of about $80 a share. “Then, all of a sudden,” that growth began stalling in a “very strong” way, Michael Koppel, Nordstrom’s chief financial officer, told an industry conference in June. “For something that happened that quickly, it just begs a lot of questions.”
Total Retail's Take: What's currently happening to Nordstrom is nothing new in the apparel sector. Just ask Gap or Macy's or Jos. A. Bank or a host of other apparel retailers. It's just that it's taken a little longer to impact the upscale apparel brand Nordstrom. Declining store traffic, driven by a surge in popularity of online shopping, and less consumer spending on apparel, combined with intense competition in a crowded marketplace, makes winning harder than ever before. What Nordstrom and other apparel retailers need to do is provide exceptional customer experiences in every channel, while offering quality products at competitive prices. Easier said than done, right?