Three Things Q4 Taught Us About Shoe Companies

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Although we haven’t quite gotten through all of the shoe-company earnings reports for the fourth quarter, most of them are behind us and the takeaways are plentiful.

From Caleres Inc. and DSW Inc. to Foot Locker Inc. and Steve Madden Ltd., here is what we’ve learned about shoe companies in Q4.

Don’t Underestimate the Discount

The lackluster holiday season was a cause for concern for both analysts and investors during Q4. And while everyone agreed something had to be done to keep business afloat, the heavy discounting at many retail chains worried market watchers.

When the actual numbers were revealed, however, off-price retailers such as TJX Companies Inc. (TJ Maxx and Marshalls) and DSW topped estimates, proving that a discount here and there doesn’t hurt.

Mid-tier priced brands like Steve Madden also made it out of Q4 with a decent performance.

The Power of the Playbook

While the importance of growth and adaptation — whether it’s investing in new technologies or creating a stronger e-commerce presence — cannot be underestimated, there is something to be said for consistency and sticking to a tried-and-true game plan.

Caleres, Steve Madden and Foot Locker are among the firms that continue to impress Wall Street by staying nimble and steady even in the toughest of economic times.

Keeping It All in the Family

With all of the demands facing modern families and working parents, one-stop shops are a must these days. With this concept in mind, DSW CEO Roger Rawlins told investors this week that the company would launch its kids’ assortment in 220 stores for the back-to-school season.

“We see that when a customer is a part of DSW and engaging with DSW before they have a child, we have a certain market share. Once they find their significant other, we maintain that market share. When that child is born, our market share is cut significantly on the adult side,” Rawlins explained. “And then when that child leaves the house, we get right back to where we were before they had a child. So our goal is to, yes, obviously, grab the kids’ market share, but it’s also about not walking them to our competition once they have a child in their home.”

Despite the struggles of the larger retail industry, family-footwear chains like Famous Footwear, Shoe Carnival and Journeys have all boasted recent profit-and-revenue success, demonstrating that practicality often wins.