Macy’s has been pursuing opportunities to grow its business through store-within-a-store partnerships and in its latest alliance is teaming up with Claire’s to open shops inside 21 Macy’s stores, including eight flagship locations.

Claire’s, known as a destination point for many tweens and teens looking to get their ears pierced, sells jewelry, clothing, beauty products and other items in demand by its core customers.

The Claire’s deal follows the announcement earlier this year that Macy’s was adding Toys “R” Us shops ranging from 1,000 square feet and 10,000 square feet to all its stores nationwide. Those shops were expected to be expanded between 500 square feet and 3,000 square feet during the holidays to offer shoppers a wider selection of products to choose from.

In an online discussion on RetailWire last week, Macy’s store-within-a-store concepts in general, and the partnership with Claire’s in particular, were viewed as an appealing strategy for the department store retailer to find its way — or to help customers find their way to Macy’s.

“We are well aware that Macy’s has been losing its appeal, but implementing the store-within-a-store concept will help them cater to the needs of different audiences,” wrote Anil Patel, CEO of HotWax Commerce. “Partnering with Toys ‘R’ Us earlier this year has definitely proven successful for Macy’s. I believe introducing Claire’s will also help them realign the selling efforts towards the younger generations.”

“Claire’s is a favorite destination for tweens and teens, adding locations inside Macy’s will give the retailer more exposure,” wrote Georganne Bender, Principal at Kizer & Bender Speaking. “The best thing about this partnership is that Claire’s customers will be introduced to department store shopping. That’s a needed win for Macy’s.”

The shops inside Macy’s will sell cosmetics, hair accessories, jewelry and seasonal items, including products for holiday celebrations. Claire’s will install its own fixtures in the shops, select products it will sell and use its own staff to maintain stock levels. The shops will be located in some of Macy’s most trafficked stores, including Herald Square and Roosevelt Field in New York City. Other shops will be located in Atlanta, California, Florida, Hawaii and Nevada.

“Macy’s and Claire’s are two iconic brands in fashion with a longstanding commitment to being destinations for inspirational and accessible style for generations of consumers,” said Ryan Vero, Claire’s CEO, in a statement. “We help celebrate special moments, and with this partnership, we are combining our brand power to reach new customers and serve them with the latest on-trend accessories in time for the holiday shopping season and beyond.”

Said Macy’s Stephen Moore, Claire’s shops will “expand our jewelry and accessories assortment and give our customers even more ways to own their style.”

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The results of the Toys “R” Us deal appear to have informed Macy’s thinking in its discussions with Claire’s.

“We’ve found that customers shopping Toys ‘R’ Us are younger and more diverse than our Macy’s customer and that 85 percent of them are cross-shopping,” Marc Mastronardi, the retailer’s chief stores officer, told The Wall Street Journal.

Macy’s has also increased the number of Pandora A/S jewelry shops in select stores from five to 28, according to the Journal’s reporting.

Some of the other experts on the RetailWire BrainTrust, however, were not so impressed by Macy’s store-within-a-store excursions thus far.

“Given the strength of the company [Claire’s] is, on the surface, a good addition to Macy’s,” wrote Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData. “However I have to say that this is the latest in a long line of store-within-a-store initiatives from Macy’s all of which have come to nothing. The only way for Macy’s to make itself relevant to younger shoppers is for it to put in the work to evolve its own proposition. Sticking Claire’s locations in shops which are fusty and messy will no more help Macy’s than Sephora shops saved JCPenney.”

Some saw the model causing concerns for retail in general.

“I love the Toys ‘R’ Us stores inside of Macy’s and hope Claire’s is an equally successful fit. Time will tell if this move connects with the younger audience Macy’s is seeking,” wrote Dave Bruno, director of retail market insights at Aptos
APTOS
. “But looking beyond this Macy’s program, as this store-within-a-store concept continues to expand (e.g. Target
TGT
, Kohl’s, etc.), do we run the risk of recreating the (rapidly-dying) mall? When do we stop adding value and start diluting brand identity?”

And for some, the Claire’s/Macy’s deal just doesn’t have the right specs for success.

“Interesting move as Walmart
WMT
already has a presence of Claire’s product in-store as well,” wrote Brian Delp, CEO of New Sega Home. “This is a bit behind the curve and lacks a bit of innovation.”

“It’s hard to see this being a significant growth driver for Macy’s, which seems to be throwing a lot of spaghetti at the proverbial wall,” wrote Phil Rubin, founder of Grey Space Matters.

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