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Business Insider reports that Macy's is planning to turn 15 of its traditional department stores into its new Backstage discount outlet format, which "will sell Macy's brands at steeply discounted prices — up to 80% off," a model designed to emulate similar stores such as TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack.

The story notes that "the locations will serve as a test of whether the store's new discount outlets will take business away from the higher-priced traditional stores ... Macy's Backstage stores are an attempt to get younger customers as sales at the company's core business declines. But it's possible that once shoppers become accustomed to discounts, they will refuse to pay full price for brand-name clothing."
KC's View:
I hadn't been in a Macy's for some time, but went into one the other day because I hadn't packed enough underwear for my current travels. I have to tell you that the atmosphere was mausoleum-like ... there were very few customers there, and I found the displays I was perusing to be a mess, like nobody cared enough to make things easy to find. Now, this was just a moment in time ... an hour earlier or an hour later, the place could've been mobbed. But that's not how it felt. The store felt obsolete and lonely ... which may explain why Macy's sales were down four percent last year.
It'll be interesting to see how the Backstage concept works, and if it is able to replicate the kind of success that the Nordstrom Rack has achieved. (A note: I was curious, so I checked. There happened to be both a Nordstrom and a Nordstrom Rack within blocks of the Macy's I visited, and both were a lot busier. I'm just sayin'...) This will be intriguing in part because it is the same kind of move that Whole Foods is making with its new 365 retail brand. There may be lessons that cut across all these brands about what customers want and don't want.