Controlling the Bottom Line

Now that the meaningful portion of the first half of 2007 is over, it is interesting to see the differences in compstore sales between similar retailers. All of the retailers in the following chart are national. They faced the same economic conditions, fuel prices, consumer confidence and other perceived business challenges. They had access to comparable sources of supply, information technology and logistics. Yet, the outcomes are very different.

It is always interesting to read the releases of the companies with strong results and then the others. The strong performers continue to attribute their success to:

Having the merchandise their customers want;

Inventories full of fresh merchandise; and

Being in stock.

The weak performers attribute their challenges to external factors such as:

Pressure on discretionary spending;

Fuel prices; and

Weak consumer confidence.

Comp-Store Trends for First Half of 2007Source: The Gordman Group
Superior  Lagging 
Saks+16.1%vs.Macy’s+2.9%
Kohl’s+4.9%vs.J.C. Penney+1.8%
Dollar General+4.7%vs.Family Dollar+0.9%
Costco+6.1%vs.BJ’s+2.3%
TJX+4.1%vs.Ross+1.1%
American Eagle+9.5%vs.Abercrombie–3.3%
Famous Footwear+3.2%vs.DSW–1.3%
Best Buy+4.8%vs.Circuit City–2.5%
Hibbett+6.4%vs.Dick’s+2.0%
Walgreens+8.5%vs.Longs+1.7%
Target+4.6%vs.Wal-Mart+0.7%

There is no question that the challenges identified by the lagging performers are genuine. The real question is how much do these factors actually affect the consumer’s willingness to spend? At some point the lagging performers need to consider why the companies with strong results are better able to deal with the perceived challenges. It is also interesting to note that the lagging performers attribute their lack of results to macro factors they cannot control. The strong performers have identified factors they totally control.

To view the total report go to www.gordmangroup.com.

Robert Gordman is the president of The Gordman Group, Denver, and is the author of “The Must-Have Customer—7 Steps to Winning the Customer You Haven’t Got.”

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