Bloomingdale’s: A Formidable Competitor in the Jewelry Arena?

Bloomingdale’s has long been known as a place where the fashionable shop. (Remember 1984’s Splash, when a young Daryl Hannah instructed a Manhattan cab driver to take her to Bloomingdale’s?) But there’s always room for improvement, and the retail giant is now making moves to reinvigorate its position as a purveyor of fine jewelry, among other categories.

In fall 2011, Bloomingdale’s opened both John Hardy and Links of London boutiques at its flagship on 59th Street in Manhattan, as well as a new Lagos shop-in-shop at its location in King of Prussia, Pa. The merchant also debuted the K Ritt jewelry line at its 59th Street and SoHo locations, and hosted Tacori silver jewelry events with Lucky magazine at its Century City store in Los Angeles.

Francine Klein, executive vice president and general merchandising manager of fashion accessories, cosmetics, and fine jewelry, for the retailer tells JCK in an email interview that Bloomingdale’s is indeed “renovating and rejuvenating our fine jewelry selling areas…to provide our customers with newness in our assortment and vendor offerings, as well as a broader assortment within the designers that we currently carry.” In fact, the brand has more than doubled the size of the jewelry space in its stores in Short Hills, N.J., and Tysons Corners, Va., and is “currently looking for many of our other stores to mirror this.”

Financial reports reveal that some of the merchant’s efforts may already be working. According to a Macy’s Inc. (which owns Bloomingdale’s) press release, same-store sales for the combined November–December holiday selling period rose 5.7 percent. Plus, online sales for both and increased 35.8 percent in December, and 40.3 percent in November–December combined. Meanwhile, jewelry was also noted as a “strong category” for Bloomingdale’s competitor Saks Fifth Avenue, which revealed in a recent media release that its comparable store sales rose 5.8 percent in December.

At a time when some in retail believe the trend is for lifestyle stores to grow in popularity, independent retailers may want to take a page from Bloomingdale’s playbook by beefing up events, continually offering newness to shoppers, and better merchandising collections—including designer linesin store.

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John Hardy jewelry display in a Manhattan Bloomingdales

An in-store John Hardy display at a Manhattan Bloomingdale’s during the 2011 holiday season