Kmart: If the shoe fits…

Today’s Retail Wire comment discusses the decision by Kmart to switch its shoe department from a leased operation to self-managed. The question is whether the customer will react positively, whether the brand assortment can get the job done, and whether Kmart has other front-burner issues in its apparel business:

I hope and assume that Kmart tested the takeover of its shoe business in a number of stores before rolling it out chainwide. If so, I also assume this was a smart business decision in terms of more productivity and higher margins. On the other hand, the brand offerings especially in adult athletic footwear are not strong enough to establish Kmart as anything like a “headquarters” store. (Protege is, after all, a private label without the cachet of the national brands or “exclusive” brands like Converse at Target.) And most retailers recognize that they need to get the apparel business right before “fixing” footwear, not necessarily the other way around.

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