Nordstrom Fares Better Than Competition In Changing Retail Market

May 12, 2017

Seattle-based Nordstrom reported first-quarter earnings that were better than expected, but the company is still struggling to navigate a new retail landscape.

Revenues met Wall Street expectations at $3.35 billion, but sales at Nordstrom's brick-and-mortar stores are down.

Sales declined 6.4 percent at the company's signature department stores and 0.9 percent at Nordstrom Rack stores.

The retailer had better luck online. Nordstrom.com sales were up 10.9 percent and Nordstromrack.com/HauteLook up 19.1 percent.

In a conference call with investors, Nordstrom executives emphasized that while first-quarter earnings were in-line with expectations, they were not satisfied with the company's overall performance.

Nordstrom is just one more example of how retailers are struggling to keep up in a market where more people are shopping online and choosing not to buy full-price apparel.

"I think they're doing so many of the right things that they ought to be doing, and yet, we're still critical of their performance," said Neil Stern, senior partner at retail consulting firm McMillan Doolittle.

Those "right things" include focusing efforts on Nordstrom's online and off-price businesses. 

"It is hopefully going to come out on the other side as what we not talk about as an omnichannel retailer," Stern said. "But it's a lot to ask for of a company to get all of those things going in the same positive direction at the same time."