We went shopping at Pier 1 Imports and saw why it has struggled to turn things around and compete with Amazon and TJ Maxx

Business Insider/Jessica TylerIt seemed like everything was on sale at Pier 1.
  • Pier 1 Imports is struggling to keep up with competitors like Amazon,Walmart, and TJ Maxx.
  • On Wednesday’s earnings call, the brand reported comparable sales had fallen 10.5% in the most recent quarter.
  • Part of why the retailer has struggled is that its products don’t provide “the style, the value, the selection” that customers want, interim CEO Cheryl Bachelder said during the call.
  • Former CEO Alasdair James, who stepped down on Wednesday, explained the brand’s plans to fix these issues during an earnings call in June, but said in October that the plans are taking “longer than expected.”

As companies like Amazon, Walmart, TJ Maxx, and Wayfair continue to expand into home goods, it’s getting harder for Pier 1 Imports to compete.

In its most recent quarterly earnings release on Wednesday, the brand reported that comparable sales had fallen 10.5%.

“For non-shoppers, shoppers that are very engaged in this category, but don’t currently shop with Pier 1, and for some of our less core customers, they describe our stores as being overwhelming,” former CEO Alasdair James, who stepped down on Wedendsay, said in an April analyst meeting.

Interim CEO Cheryl A. Bachelder, a member of the company’s board of directors, said on Wednesday’s earnings call: “It’s become clear that we are not giving our Pier 1 customer the style, the value, the selection that she wants to find in our stores and online. The sector is performing well. So, we know the opportunity is there for Pier 1.”

Analysts have criticised the retailer for not stocking enough unique inventory.

GlobalData Retail’s Neil Saunders wrote in an email to Retail Dive in April: “While the market is growing, so too is competition. As much as it is true that Pier 1’s aesthetic used to make it distinct, others are now replicating this – at least in parts of their offers.”

In the company’s earnings call in June, James explained how the brand plans to combat these issues by rebranding Pier 1 and offering more trendy pieces that would appeal to millennials. He also discussed the importance of improving the shopping experience in-store. The retailer is currently testing new store formats that have wider aisles and less clutter in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

But on in October, James said: “Our second quarter financial results reflect execution challenges around our August brand re-launch and our ‘New Day’ strategic plan initiatives [are] taking longer than expected to gain traction.”

We recently visited a Pier 1 Imports store in New York City and found many of the critiques of the brand to be true. Here’s what we saw:


We went to the Pier 1 Imports store on the Upper East Side.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

At the front of the store were Halloween products, all of which were 25% off.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Most of the first floor was seasonal decor. The furniture and decor in stock definitely seemed more traditional than trendy.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The first floor also had a computer set up for shoppers to see what was available online but not in stock. The store offered in-store pickup for products within 14 days, though competitors like Amazon and Wayfair offer two-day delivery instead.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

It seemed like there were deals on almost everything in the store.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The most expensive products cost $US500-600, but for the most part, everything in the store cost under $US200.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Though nothing was terribly expensive, the styles were very traditional for the most part.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Downstairs was an entire wall of pillows, blankets, and rugs. Everything was very similar in colour and style — there wasn’t a ton of variety to choose from.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were also a lot of decor pieces, like canvases that ranged from $US25-100 …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… a wall of clocks that cost almost $US200 each …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and some Christmas decorations.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The store didn’t feel cluttered, but there didn’t seem to be any method to its organisation. Pieces were scattered everywhere between the two floors, and products were stacked up to the ceiling.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There weren’t many products like dressers and vanities to choose from, and what there was in stock wasn’t terribly trendy or unique.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There was a wall of clearance items downstairs, with chairs, outdoor furniture, wine glasses, candles, dishes, and all sorts of random products.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

A lot of shelves throughout the store were pretty spare.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The issues raised about Pier 1’s inability to keep up with trends, its overwhelming stores, and efforts to keep prices down were all clear when we visited the store. The brand has announced plans to rebrand the store and fix these issues, but it has a ways to go.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

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