Insight News

Saturday
Dec 20th

The Macys formula: Affordable luxury

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By Al McFarlane and B.P. Ford -- The Editors

Value conscious shoppers around the nation charged into retail stores as early as 1am Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving Day, in search of the extra good deals offered at the opening bell of the annual Christmas buying season.
In the Twin Cities, Eden Prairie Mall opened at 1 am, beat only by the merchants at Albertville outlet center, whose crowds created traffic jams from the Twin Cities to St. Cloud and resulted in total congestion in the acres and acres of parking lots surrounding the upscale discount Mecca.

Ralph V. Hughes

Value conscious shoppers around the nation charged into retail stores as early as 1am Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving Day, in search of the extra good deals offered at the opening bell of the annual Christmas buying season.

In the Twin Cities, Eden Prairie Mall opened at 1 am, beat only by the merchants at Albertville outlet center, whose crowds created traffic jams from the Twin Cities to St. Cloud and resulted in total congestion in the acres and acres of parking lots surrounding the upscale discount Mecca.

In Chicago, Macy's led the shopping frenzy, opening its suburban Spring Hill mall store at 1 am, the only anchor store to do so in support of the overall mall retailers' Black Friday selling strategy. "Black Friday typically is the official beginning of holiday shopping that people anticipate with great anxiety. Retailers such as Macy's open early offering what we call 'door busters' - tremendous discounts to get people into the store," said Ralph V. Hughes, Macy's North Regional Vice President.

Plus, Hughes said in a phone interview, "Some people have to work on holidays and regular hours that tend to make it difficult for them the get in on the some of the super savings and values."  He said special openings either at 1am or 6 am give more people the chance to get out and find holiday shopping values.

Hughes said Macy's has figured out the formula for engaging and serving the fashion forward Black consumer. His Macy's North division covers 64 stores in the upper Midwest including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Hughes is personally responsible for the stores in Chicago and Detroit.

African Americans are "very aware of fashion and we are fashion oriented," Hughes said. "The Macy's formula is affordable luxury. We know people want to spend as little as possible without sacrificing the quality or the look. We have the private brands that support the highly selective consumer. Our brands like Alfani and Charter Club present luxury at an affordable price."

Luxurious cashmere fashions are among the leading gift items this season because of their quality and classic timelessness. They never go out of style. The always look elegant and stylish, he said.

A couple of years ago, he said, Macy's acquired Marshall Fields, which had previously acquired the Dayton-Hudson Department Store chain. All the stores were changed to Macy's stores. "People are becoming excited about our brand," he said. "What we are looking for is a tremendous amount of traffic in our stores. We have hired over 5500 seasonal workers to support the increase in traffic. In Chicago, we lit the "Great Tree" a couple of weeks ago, and we already are seeing an increase in customers."

In the Twin Cities, Macy's is the official sponsor of the hugely popular Holidazzle parade, is presented 6pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through December 23. The 45th annual animated holiday display, "The Nutcracker" also debuted on Nov. 18 at Macy's Minneapolis in the 8th Floor Auditorium.

Ralph V. Hughes is the Regional Vice President of Corporate Communications for Macy's. He guides Macy's and Federated Stores in the areas of public, community, civic and media relations.

Previously Hughes served as Regional V.P. for Macy's flagship State Street store and ran the region's Furniture Galleries in Oakbrook and Woodfield.

He joined Marshall Field's in 1992, managing a division at the State Street Store. In 1993 he was promoted to Store Manager of the San Antonio Texas store and in 1995 he was promoted to Regional Director for Marshall Field's stores in San Antonio, Houston and Dallas
 

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