Shakeup Spells Trouble at J.Crew



Introducing sub-brands into J.Crew stores, while smartly bolstering the profile of fast-growing labels like Madewell, risked muddying the retailer's identity and alienating core customers. Holiday store traffic fell 2.7 percent last year for US apparel retailers, according to Cowen. Today the crush is more like a trickle, in part because retailers realise a sale is a sale, whether it takes place at 5 am the Friday after Thanksgiving in a crowded store or a few days before online. Shares of mass retailers nosedived last week despite strong sales reports. So what explains the decline in retail stocks, indiscriminately hitting both perennial under-performers like J.C. Penney and high-fliers like Abercrombie & Fitch? A similar dynamic already played out among luxury brands last month, when fears of a slowing Chinese luxury market sent Kering and Prada tumbling. Economic fears are going global, and cheery forecasts for holiday sales can't drown out mounting concern that the retail sector's best days may be in the past. The Bottom Line: Retail's best days weren't all that good for many mall brands. read more...