Neiman Marcus Sales Slip & Losses Swell As Shifts in Consumer Habits Take Toll

The tough times roll on for Neiman Marcus.

The Dallas-based luxury department store chain, which also owns Bergdorf Goodman and e-tailer MyTheresa, today reported another round of disappointed earnings.

The company said its first-quarter revenues declined 7.4 percent, to $1.08 billion, while net losses grew, from $10.5 million in the same period last year, to $23.5 million. Comparable sales also decreased 8 percent during the quarter.

In previous quarters, president and CEO Karen Katz had blamed across-the-board declines on factors such as persistently low oil prices hurting the firm’s wealthy clientele, the strong U.S. dollar and world events including acts of terrorism. This time around, Katz said operational challenges related to the launch of a new common merchandising system as well as shifts in consumer behaviors were the culprit.

Besides being a treasure trove of merchandise, the internet gives customers greater access to information about price and promotion. They continue to shop for the best deal and the lowest price with less regard for loyalty, channel or brand,” Katz said during the firm’s conference call. “They also want to buy something and wear it immediately, rather than waiting for the trends and latest fashion to hit the stores months later or when the weather turns. Customers now are less likely to buy a winter coat in summer or sandals in the dead of winter.”

To address these challenges, Katz said Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman have been introducing more exclusive product in stores and online and are “working with our vendors to think differently about when they are shipping goods, as well as which type of goods are being shipped in different points during the season.”

Neiman Marcus’ chief said that the firm’s progress should be evident in the upcoming quarters.

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