Jamie Nordstrom on Why Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2021 Is a ‘Time to Celebrate,’ NYC’s Comeback & the Appeal of Asos

The Nordstrom Anniversary sale is already legendary. But the 2021 edition — top customers are now getting early access —  is truly a “time to celebrate,” said Jamie Nordstrom, president of stores for Nordstrom.

“People want a wardrobe refresh. They’re looking for a party and we’re trying to throw them one,” said Nordstrom, during an interview at the retailer’s Wolf restaurant at its New York store. “The crossover between [online and in-store] is powerful. During the past 10 to 15 years, the sale has become digital centric. Consumers are on the website at midnight. A big chunk of the online orders are picked up at the store.”

The New York store is a huge area of focus for Nordstrom, which opened the location in October 2019, just months before the pandemic changed everything. “Retail is going to look and feel different, but it was going to anyway, said Nordstrom, observing the frenetic pace of change that was taking hold even before the coronavirus took hold.

Speed, convenience — and added customer service initiatives such as Nordstrom Local locations and curbside pickup were already gaining steam. “Before we had just been dabbling, but the pandemic forced us to really get into those things,” Nordstrom noted.

Digital, which is about half of Nordstrom’s overall sales, has also changed the game significantly, from the site to the sale floor. Instagram selling, for example, became a necessary part of doing business for the sales team.

But through it all, customers continues to crave in-person shopping too. “There’s a desire to get back to normal. As markets opened up, you saw people go back to habits they had before,” Nordstrom said. “Our stores play a really important role for most of our very best customers. Digital is where the growth is, but the stores [are] fundamental,” he said.

No matter where they’re shopping, customers are still showing serious allegiance to sneakers. “Everyone in New York has McQueen and Dior sneakers. We’ve sold a lot of those,” said Nordstrom. There’s also great demand for “true athletic.” In addition to stalwarts Nike and Adidas, names like On and Brooks are now at the center of the conversation. “We’ve introduced a lot more technical athletic, and consumers are smarter about it now than they were before,” the executive said.

Nordstrom's Manhattan flagship on 57th Street.
Nordstrom’s Manhattan flagship on 57th Street.
CREDIT: Lexie Moreland for WWD

But fashion is still critical, and even though many consumers aren’t yet back in their heels, they’re not sacrificing style. “Dressed-up styles are a big deal — more flats not heels,” said Nordstrom.

As the retailer continues to evolve the assortment, it will have some important new brands in the mix from Asos. On Sunday, Nordstrom revealed its joint venture with the British powerhouse, and it now owns a minority stake in Topshop, Topman and other brands.  “We weren’t looking for this, but we had had the exclusive US rights for Topshop. When Asos was purchasing TopShop, there was a dialogue between us,” Nordstrom explained. “Our customers are certainly loyal to the Topshop brand, and we started thinking bigger about Asos.”

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