Editor's Note: Ignoring the signs
Boy, haven’t we heard this story before — and perhaps way too much?
Pier 1 Imports, the home goods chain, announced in early January that it was closing more than half of its estimated 950 stores across the country. A new approach — the chain’s leadership said it was a realignment within the current operating environment — was needed.
Gee, what took these guys so long to figure that out?
Like a number of other retailers that are struggling — Bed, Bath & Beyond and Macy’s are two of my favorites — Pier 1 executives seemed to have ignored many of the glaring warning signs that have been around for much of the last decade.
Now, suddenly, these guys think they can play catch up by closing half of their existing storefronts and hope that consumers quickly will take their sales to the company’s online site. I say not a chance. These execs should visit the Amazon, Walmart and Target sites and see what they are missing, and realize just how far behind they are.
Unfortunately, I could probably write this story every month in this space. All l would have to do is fill in the blank for the retailer of the month that is announcing, despite warnings from virtually every angle, that they failed to get ahead of the curve.
Perhaps as never before, retailers need to understand that staying ahead of consumer shopping trends — whether traditional or digital — is the secret to surviving in this age of hyper-intense competition. Pier 1 executives had to see the signs as far back as 2015 when its high-flying stock price was around $300 per share. Today, the price of a single share of Pier 1 Imports stock resides around $4, and that might be too high for the value of this company. In fact, some industry gurus said the chain may file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the coming days.
Time actually is the enemy of these struggling chains. The bottom line is that it is running out on them, and without dramatic changes to the entire merchandising strategy, it is doubtful that many of these operations will be able to stick around very long.
As many a consultant has said, “Retail is not dead, bad retail is dead.” The key is to make sure that your chain is not one of the bad retailers on the block, and is one of those merchants who understands that winning at retail takes a lot more than putting products on store shelves at reasonable price points and opening the doors at 10 a.m.