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New Apparel Data Indicates Macy’s Inventory Efforts Are Paying Off

New data from EDITED reveals that Macy’s is outperforming its department-store peers when it comes to online apparel inventory, even while relying less on discounts than it has in the past. Investments in specific apparel categories are also yielding notable results.

Overall, Macy’s full-price apparel items average $79.20 and year over year, discounts dropped by 9.2% as of Q4 2017. During the busy holiday quarter, the retailer turned over new arrivals quickly, replenishing 7.4% of just-in items. By contrast, Saks Fifth Ave restocked 6.1%; Lord & Taylor replenished 5.3% of newcomers; Nordstrom replenished 4.8%; and Neiman Marcus lagged with just 2.2%.

“While department stores offer the widest range of goods for consumers, quickly addressing shopper demand is essential to rise above the challenges this sector faces,” said Katie Smith, retail analysis and insights director at EDITED. “Thanks to Macy’s insightful apparel strategy, it has been able to keep prices consistent and rely less on discounting to appeal to a broad range of consumers—overall, a winning approach.”

Acknowledging the continued momentum in athleisure, Macy’s boosted its activewear inventory, which increased by 15 percent online, EDITED found. Eager to satisfy shoppers hungry for Nike apparel, the retailer expanded the brand’s inventory by a considerable 44.9%. The numbers show that customers responded to Macy’s greater selection—and availability—of activewear merchandise. In the second half of 2017, replenishment of activewear items increased by 16.4% compared with the same period in 2016.

Plus sizes traditionally haven’t received much attention from retailers, but Macy’s addressed the market by increasing online plus-size inventory by 20.4%, while discounting product 7.4% less than other competitors. The retailer now carries the largest plus-size inventory online among U.S. department stores; the category accounts for 9.5% of the retailer’s total women’s apparel holdings. The biggest plus categories are tops (40.7%) followed by dresses (17.2%), bottoms (12.2%), outerwear (8.1%), and accessories (5.6%). What’s more, plus-size activewear proved popular with shoppers. Not only did the number of in-stock active-plus items increase 23.6% year over year in the second half of 2017, but Macy’s also replenished 71 percent more of these products.

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The maternity category also got a boost, with inventory increasing 34.6%. Macy’s is holding firm on price, though its constant sales seem to signal the contrary. EDITED found that just 6.9% of Macy’s items were slashed by more than 50 percent.

Investments in activewear, plus sizes and maternity appear to indicate that Macy’s could be trying to cater the millennial shopper, and yet the department store’s top-selling brands, after its Macy’s and INC private labels, include premium brands like Calvin Klein (No. 3) and Lauren Ralph Lauren (No. 4), Nike (No. 5), and Michael Michael Kors (No. 6).

[Read more about Macy’s: Macy’s Courts Brands With Pop-Up Shop Concept]

“Looking at the most-stocked women’s brands at Macy’s, the selection is more geared towards a style-conscious shopper with enough disposable income,” said Smith, who noted the retailer carries a “good mix of trend led and classic/basic brands.”

Looking to the physical side of the business, Macy’s has been experimenting with ways to attract new customers. The Market @ Macy’s is a new pop-up shop model that offers a turnkey in-store solution for new and emerging brands for a one-time fee. What’s more, the department-store chain debuted a new collection of modest women’s apparel designed with the fashion-conscious shopper in mind. The Verona Collection, launched on Feb. 15, includes a curated selection of ready-to-wear pieces designed to mix, match and layer, and features dresses, tops, cardigans, pants and hijabs.

[Correction: This article originally stated Macy’s average apparel price as $235. This figure included jewelry as well, which bumped up the average price.]