We went to J. Crew and saw why sales are plummeting
Jun 1, 2016, 23:01 IST
Mallory Schlossberg/Business Insider
J. Crew's store was a mess and most of the clothes were on sale. In what way could that convince consumers to pay a premium.
Once a great retail success story, J. Crew has been struggling in recent years.
J. Crew's sales slid 8% in the most recent quarter, with the company blaming a "challenging retail environment."
It's true - it's rough out there for most retailers -but a walk around the store shows why the company may be having a hard time getting consumers to pay a premium for its clothing.Advertisement
Here's what you would have been greeted with if you walked into the company's New York City Flatiron store at the end of May.
Because just like the ailing Banana Republic, J. Crew doesn't let you forget that you can get an extra percentage off your purchase.
J. Crew has been working to bring customers back into stores.
Though style is subjective, J. Crew has faced criticism that its styles have been too trendy to attract customers who got hooked on basics.
It looks like the company is trying to display more classics, like this t-shirt.
In September, the company said it would be going back to basics. A selection of simple apparel with bright colors is evident of that.
...as is a wall full of gingham.
The company is selling some on-trend apparel, too, like this off-the-shoulder top.
The store also shows off its bridal business, which has sold unusual bridal trends, such as wedding pants.
"Nothing can change the simplicity and timelessness of a perfect blazer — it is at once familiar and made fresh by changing the context," Creative Director Jenna Lyons said in an email interview with Vogue last year.
...But no matter if consumers like the apparel or not, they've been conditioned to not pay full price.
The company's wear-to-work section has been a bright spot.
It raises the question: would these ensembles stand out to consumers who already might have been hesitant to walk into the stores?
Here's the sale section.
The clearance section tells the story that every other clearance section tells: excess inventory and unwanted, misfit apparel. The excess of sweaters is not entirely J. Crew's fault; pretty much every other traditional apparel retailer has blamed slipping sales on unseasonable weather this past fall and winter.
Though sales are often necessary for a retailer, it can be hard to get customers to pay full price when they come to expect discounts. That could be especially harmful for a brand like J. Crew that's trying to restore its image.
There's a second sale section, too.
Even brightly colored summer garb is discounted.
Some of this store is in disarray, detracting from any level of luxury. However, there appeared — on the surface (or on the first level) — to be an onslaught of customer service.
And while the Flatiron store is not wholly representative of the company's entire business, it's pretty telling if a major store in a major city is lacking such attention to detail. Why pay a premium in a place characterized by disarray?
Fortunately, J. Crew is making some steps in the right direction.