On Monday, a week before Christmas, the line to pay at Francesca’s Collections boutique store stretched across the store. The Jockey outlet had mostly sold out of seasonal clothing and managers were offering customers a chance to buy presents online at the store and have the items shipped for only $3. Jockey’s manager, Dave Cartee, was giving customers the kind of personal service they can’t get online. For men who may not know much about women’s underwear, he was helping out by looking up in his computer records what the women had bought in the store before.
Other stores were doing what they can to get shoppers in and away from online shopping. Lucky Brand has jeans $20 cheaper than online prices. Other stores are trading coupons. If you go into one store, you get a coupon for additional savings at another Outlet outpost.
Parking lots were packed the weekend before Christmas and while some stores estimated that sales were up, a manager at Lucky said sales were down for the year as much as 7 percent and 10 percent at the holidays.
“We are down in traffic,” said Cindy Alvarez. “I feel like people are buying more online.” Jeans in the store are $79, but $99 online.
They are working to beef up sales with 50 percent off last minute holiday gift promotions, such as a paisley bandana for $12.25; a men’s wallet for $24; a burgundy studded clutch for $29.75; a cosmetic bag for $12.25; and two pairs of mixed media socks for $8.25. They are even lowering those prices adding another 10 percent off if you sign up for the brand’s mailing list.
The new western store, Ariat, was selling its most expensive products at extreme deals. English riding boots that usually sell for $1,000 are selling for $400. American boots originally listed at $400 were selling for as low as $50 with a combination of outlet and holiday markdowns.
Nationally, holiday shopping has grown since 2009 from $502 billion to an estimated $680 billion in 2017, according to statista.com. Sales at this time of year are estimated to account for as much as 30 percent of a retailer’s annual numbers. Sales have grown steadily since 2000 with dips in 2008 and 2009. Business has increased an average of 2.5 percent over the past 10 years, according to the National Retail Federation.
A study of 4,000 shoppers by the accounting firm Deloitte predicted that this will be the first year that shoppers will spend more money online than in retail stores. Some 51 percent of responders said they would spend more online in 2017. Last year the amount was split evenly between online and retail.
GIVING IT AWAY Jockey outlet store manager Dave Cartee shows off his best deal, seven panties or bra tops for $28. He suggests men check with him before buying items to see what their significant others bought last time they shopped there.
FOR SALE, FOR SURE Molly Walker, who manages the the Lucky Brand outlet store has a gift table with everything 50 percent off and another 10 percent off if you join a mailing list. Items include a printed cosmetic bag for $12.25, a burgundy studded clutch for $29.95 and a coin purse for $14.50.
MADE FOR WALKING Manager Philip Walker is taking 50 percent off everything and then another 20 percent for the holidays at Ariat, the Outlets’ first western goods store.
FEELING LUCKY Lucky Brands has items from $4 to $17 on its gift display.