Outlet stores

An overview of Macy’s outlet stores

NEW YORK – Macy’s has an answer to TJ Maxx and other stores that sell designer brands at deep discount prices.

The department store chain, set to open its previously announced “Macy’s Backstage” discount stores in the New York area this fall, gave The Associated Press a preview of one of its new outlet stores .

The store, which will open next week in Elmhurst, Queens, is about the same size as a TJ Maxx and features Calvin Klein, Sunglass Hut and many other designer brands that shoppers have come to expect in Macy’s department stores.

But the point of sale is distinctly different from Macy’s department stores. Backstage works with new brands, like Fila and Reebok, and new brands like Elf in the beauty section. And while shoppers can get basics like costumes and makeup at Macy’s, Backstage is more for scavenger hunting, the company says.

“You’re going to have a little different vibe than what I would call our older sister, Macy’s,” said Vanessa LeFebvre, senior vice president of Backstage. “Here we are trying to attract new and different customers.”

Macy’s decision to get into the low price game comes as the retailer faces slowing sales. Buyers are increasingly shopping online and changing their spending for their home and experiences, like going out to eat. And when they buy clothes, they want big deals on famous brands.

During the Great Recession, shoppers flocked to discount stores, and this trend is not slowing down. Scott Tuhy, chief credit officer at Moody’s Investor Service, expects market share in the non-price arena to grow to 9.8% in 2018, from 6.6% in 2009.

“The biggest downside (of Macy’s) is that they have some great competition,” Tuhy said.

Backstage offers a no-frills experience targeting busy moms looking to bid on handbags, lipstick, or something for their kids. Shopping carts are stacked at the main entrance and clear signage directs shoppers to various departments. There are large changing rooms which have charging stations nearby.

Macy’s signature red star has been infused with vibrant colors like pink, yellow, and blue. And throughout the store there are original signs like: “Fake it ’til you make it”, which showcase the faux leather jackets.

And then, of course, there are the deals. In the footwear business, for example, there were $ 9.99 spiked boots and Ralph Lauren black suede boots for $ 169.99 versus $ 695. In another department, the Marc New York leather jackets were reduced from $ 500 to $ 99.00.

LeFebvre said she was scouring the country for merchandise with discounts of 20 to 80 percent on similar items.

Macy’s said it chose the fiercely competitive New York City area for its first outlet stores for a reason. Four of the six outlet stores will open on September 2; the others will open later this fall.

“New Yorkers are harsh critics and we’re going to learn quickly,” LeFebvre said.

Associated Press

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