- Nordstrom and Macy’s are two of the most popular department stores in the United States.
- On Thursday, Nordstrom reported that comparable sales were up 4% in the second quarter. On Wednesday, Macy’s reported that comparable sales were up 0.5% in the second quarter.
- The stores have a lot of similarities, such as store credit cards, in-store pickup for online orders, and same-day delivery. But when we visited both, we found one store had much more to offer than the other.
But department stores are no longer in their heyday. The rise of e-commerce, declining foot traffic to malls, and a higher demand for off-price products are just some of the factors that have caused department stores to suffer in recent years. Several department-store chains, including Macy’s and JCPenney, have recently closed locations across the country as they struggle to adapt to shoppers’ changing habits.
When we visited Nordstrom and Macy’s, however, the two department stores appeared to be in pretty good shape. Both were spotless, with extravagant displays and hardly anything out of place. On Thursday, Nordstrom reported that comparable sales were up 4% in the second quarter. Macy’s reported on Wednesday that comparable sales were up 0.5% in the most recent quarter, marking the third consecutive quarter of sales growth for the brand.
The stores have a lot of similarities, both offering store credit cards, in-store pickup for online orders, and same-day delivery. Both also offer free shipping and returns, with Nordstrom handling returns on a case-by-case basis and Macy’s accepting products within 180 days.
Even though the department stores are very similar, one of them had a lot more to offer in-store than the other. Here’s what we found when we shopped at each:
I went to the Nordstrom store in The Westchester Mall.
Immediately on the first floor were the shoe department and the men’s department. Each of the departments took up half of the floor. The shoe department carried brands like Nike, Converse, and Vans, as well as designer brands like Gucci and Prada.
The men’s department carried what seemed like an endless amount of formal wear from brands like Ted Baker London and Bonobos. There was also Topman shop within Nordstrom that carried more casual clothes.
There were quite a few sale racks throughout the department, but there were more full-priced items than sale items.
Towards the back of the first floor was luggage …
… a ton of designer handbags …
… and plenty of accessories like hats, scarves, and sunglasses. The floor was in pristine condition, with spotless floors and perfectly arranged displays.
The cosmetics department carried prestige brands like Anastasia Beverly Hills and Marc Jacobs.
Some of the cosmetics displays were over-the-top. The Lancôme counter, for example, had a fish tank as part of the display.
The second floor carried entirely women’s clothing, including a Topshop-branded section to match the one downstairs. It carried brands like Brandy Melville, Theory, Free People, and many other designers.
Sale racks were scattered throughout the floor. Even at 40% off, most products still cost well above $US100.
Some of the displays were gorgeous, with sparkling marble floors and small sculptures on display above the clothing racks.
Little lounge areas with books and magazines were set up all over the store. It felt like a place you could spend time at, rather than just buy what you need and leave. The employees didn’t seem to mind people hanging out in the store without buying anything.
The third floor held more women’s clothes …
… a children’s department …
… home decor …
… and candy from brands like Sugarfina and Dylan’s Candy Bar.
Nordstrom had its own cafe serving wine, beer, coffee, tea, desserts, and appetizers.
Nordstrom advertised in-store pickup for online orders throughout the store. In addition to in-store pickup, Nordstrom offers free shipping and returns, listing on its website that it handles returns on a case-by-case basis. Nordstrom also offers same-day delivery and curbside pickup.
Nordstrom offers a rewards program and a store credit card, both of which offer special perks and deals.
I exited the store on the third floor and had to navigate through the mall to find my way to the entrance. The store was absolutely giant and felt like a maze. It was overwhelming, but overall, the store was spotless and had beautiful displays, friendly employees, and a ton of different brands to choose from.
After Nordstrom, I went to the Macy’s store in Herald Square.
It was overwhelming. There was so much in each direction that I had no idea where to start.
There was a tech department right near the entrance, immediately setting the store apart from Nordstrom, which didn’t have anything similar.
The first floor also had men’s formal wear …
… luggage …
… and women’s clothing.
The jewellery department was very high-end. As a whole, the store was much busier than Nordstrom.
Another thing that stood out about Macy’s was the miniature Apple store on the first floor. It was one of many mini-stores within Macy’s, and it was packed.
The makeup department was huge. There were branded displays for every mid- and high-tier makeup brand I could think of, with employees standing by each display to offer perfume samples.
Like at Nordstrom, sale signs were common throughout each department. Some products were as much as 50% off.
Handbags, shoes, and accessories each had designated floors.
Athletic wear also had a designated floor, selling brands like Nike, Adidas, Fila, and Champion. While Nordstrom carried all of the same brands, the selection was much smaller.
Most of the displays were over-the-top. Everything looked thought-out, and the entire store was spotless.
Macy’s also had several restaurants, including a cafeteria called Chef Street, McDonald’s, Au Bon Pain, Auntie Anne’s, Pinkberry, and a handful of others. The restaurants were scattered throughout the nine floors of the store.
As I made my way through the nine-floor Macy’s, I noticed it sold bedding …
… home decor …
… and candy.
There was also a furniture showroom on the top floor.
Macy’s offers a rewards program and credit card similar to Nordstrom’s. The rewards program offers special perks and deals, and it can be paired with a Macy’s credit card to earn additional perks like cash back.
Shipping and returns for online orders are free. The store also offers in-store pickup and same-day delivery like Nordstrom.
Macy’s and Nordstrom were alike in many ways, offering similar online-ordering options, rewards programs, and designer brands. But Macy’s offered a much bigger variety of products and services, including an Apple store, tech department, and more food options, making it more of a one-stop-shop.
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