Why Macy’s is Failing

Macy’s announced they are closing 100 stores and laying off nearly 10,000 employees. They’re blaming e-commerce. I’m calling bull. As long as I can remember Macy’s has always been the most outdated store at the mall. It was the store I’d pop into if I needed a pair of dress shoes on sale, maybe some MAC that I didn’t need any assistance looking for. Macy’s isn’t a victim of e-commerce, it’s a victim of itself.

Here’s the problem, Macy’s needs a complete overhaul. They need updated stores, better buyers, and new sales people. Let’s take this step by step.

Most Macy’s these days are dumps! Their flagship store has been making notable renovations, but what about your local mall? Stepping into most of these stores feels like taking a step back about twenty-something years. The layouts are a hard to navigate mess. Signage? A joke. Let’s not even start with the dressing rooms. Okay, I’ll start a little. The lighting is usually flickering and dim. There is little assistance to be found (I’ll get into that soon). And the carpeting. THAT CARPETING! It has not been replaced in years. I was in one fitting room that smelled like urine. I’m guessing (hoping) some small child left that gift while waiting for their parent and it was never cleaned. The stench was not only nauseating, but seemed to have been there for a very long time.

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an adorable Maison Jules sweater I purchased last year (photo: Macys.com)

Next complaint. The buyers. Okay, so once again, the Herald Square flagship store has some really great brands. They have designer jeans. All the makeup you can imagine. Even some in-house brands, such as Maison Jules. Many of these items are hard, if not impossible, to find in smaller stores. Why not sell the full Maison Jules line in Rockaway, NJ? Lord & Taylor, a store that had been heading towards dullsville most of my adult life, has turned itself around in the last few years and now has a lot of my favorite brands, even in the most random malls (see: Rockaway).

The biggest fail, however, are the employees. At any given time there are a handful of employees wandering the store, but try to checkout and there is usually only one counter open. The other counters are all DESERTED. Many employees act annoyed when you ask for help. They are unfamiliar with their own merchandise. They just don’t care. Maybe they’re underpaid. Maybe they’re mismanaged. Maybe they’re just miserable human beings. Listen, this isn’t to say I haven’t encountered some lovely people who are great at their jobs, but it’s sad to say they are few and far between. This isn’t just a Macy’s problem. This is a department store problem period. There’s a reason people are fed up with shopping in stores. It’s becoming a truly unpleasant experience.

Sound trumpet noise: IN CONCLUSION, if Macy’s updates (and cleans up!) their stores, brings in a greater variety of merchandise, and hires employees who truly care, I think they can make themselves a destination store again. #soapbox

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