Off 5th: Is good housekeeping a bad thing?

The new CEO of the combined Hudson Bay/Saks/Lord & Taylor group commented recently that he would like his company’s outlet division (Off 5th) to look messier…more like Nordstrom Rack, which is growing faster. On a RetailWire panel discussion, I make the point that content should be the driving force:

I think the content inside the Off 5th stores is a bigger issue than the housekeeping. I spoke to a store manager on a recent visit, and he told me that the majority of the goods are now developed specifically for the stores (like many brands doing business in outlet malls), instead of being closeouts of merchandise from the full-line Saks stores. Nordstrom Rack, in contrast, seems to be more engaged in the “treasure hunt” model followed by TJX and others.

It’s possible that for some consumers (at least this one) the neat appearance of Off 5th is actually more appealing and provides some brand differentiation. But it all comes back to merchandise content: If Off 5th messes up the store with the same merchandise content, they may not accomplish anything.

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