What killed Syms and Filene’s?

Following the announcement that Syms and Filene’s Basement are shutting their doors, RetailWire panelists had a chance to comment. I noted that there are a lot of external factors to blame but (most importantly) it’s always worth a look in the mirror at times like these:

To blame one’s demise on the department stores is probably not accurate. After all, traditional department stores are arguably less promotional since May Company left the scene. It’s more realistic to acknowledge that the major players in the off-price world (TJX and Ross Stores in particular) outperformed Syms/Filenes by benefiting from national scale, brand recognition and good execution. Does the name “Filene’s Basement” mean anything to consumers who don’t remember Filene’s in the first place?

Finally, the article mentioned flash sales sites but ignored a bigger factor: The explosive growth and evolution of outlet malls around the country.


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