Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Saks to Bring More "Outlet" Shopping to Buckhead

Saks OFF 5TH is coming to Buckhead

New York City-based Saks Fifth Avenue plans to bring its lower priced "OFF 5TH" concept to Buckhead Station next year.  The store will open in place of a portion of Toys“R”Us, which is slated to close September 6th after nineteen years in business.  

Property owner Equity One, who purchased the center in 2007,  operates a similar center in Long Island, New York, near Roosevelt Field Mall.  The Gallery at Westbury Plaza is also a two story center, home to Ulta Beauty, Nordstrom Rack, Old Navy and a Saks OFF 5TH, among other retailers. 

While I have been thus far unable to get anyone from Equity One or Saks to confirm the retailer's plans, multiple well placed sources indicate a deal is in place to bring the store to the Buckhead center.  It's believed that OFF FIFTH will occupy about 25-30,000 square feet of the overall 45,000 square foot space.  

Saks currently operates one full line store in metro Atlanta at Phipps Plaza in Buckhead, as well as three "OFF FIFTH" stores in Sugarloaf Mills in Duluth, North Georgia Premium Outlets in Dawsonville and The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta in Woodstock.  

As a frequent shopper, I have found Saks OFF 5TH to be among the most egregious offenders in the use of the term "outlet" when describing their stores.  Basically, an OFF 5TH store is a regular store, selling cheaper merchandise, likely never (previously) found in a full line Saks Fifth Avenue store.  Moreover, I have found Saks (OFF 5TH) to mark up merchandise, only to "mark it down" to still inflated prices at the outlet.     

Bloomingdale's The Outlet Store and Neiman Marcus Last Call both feature similar misleading tactics, but I feel Saks is probably the worst offender I've observed.  

Overall, I've found Nordstrom and their nordstrom rack division  to be among the "best in class" when it comes to department store outlet stores.  Given my many visits to rack stores in multiple states, I'd estimate that their average inventory is 15-20% merchandise from a full line Nordstrom store compared to close to 1-7% at Saks OFF 5TH.  This could be the reason a recent BuzzFeed article reported that the rack division brought Nordstrom 1 million new customers to its full price stores last year.  

Neiman Marcus last call studio, which opened last year at Lenox Marketplace in Buckhead, is another "sham outlet" as I refer to them.  Operating under the notion that consumers will believe that they're getting a deal, 100% of "studio" merchandise is made / purchased for the store unlike a traditional Last Call store, where you might hope to score a Jimmy Choo heel for a deal.   

What are your thoughts on the watering down of outlet stores?  Are you a fan of Saks OFF FIFTH?  What else would you like to see open in Buckhead Station?  

Please share your thoughts below.  


Carl Black said...

I feel the same way about Rack being the only quality retailer in this category. I patronized their locations in other states before the first store opened here. I'm happy to pass completely on the poor copycats.

Anonymous said...

Any chance that Phase 2 of Avalon lands a full-line Saks Fifth Avenue?

Ham said...

I assume that outlet stores at one time carried merchandise from the actual main stores. However, I don’t think that has happened in years and I would think that by now everyone knows that. I visited a Brooks Brothers outlet in South Carolina and I don’t believe any of the items would have ever been sold in the real store. It seems like these outlet stores actually cheapen the brands sort of like in-house counterfeiting or something.

ImAndy said...

I knew when TRU announced they were closing that it would be another outlet in that space but I was hoping for the new Macy's concept. I believe Macy's could have a good assortment of their private house brands like Bar III, Alfani, American Rag, Inc, Ryan Seacrest etc and be very successful although with the Macy's card and star passes you're paying less than outlet prices at the full line stores most time but that's a different target customer.

I agree though the Rack has been the poster child on how to do it right with merchandising and value.

vespajet said...

Pretty much all name brand outlet stores are selling lines of clothing that were never sold in a regular retail environment, nor is any of the products "seconds" either. In some cases, they may be selling off excess inventory, but more often than not they are a line solely for outlet sales. These are lines that are not as of the same quality as their regular lines, and the "original" retail prices printed on the tags never existed. The fake "original" prices are done to give consumers the impression that they're saving a lot of money (Hey I bought $250 worth of clothing for $70 at their outlet store.). In many cases, the brand or the chain whose name is on the store is licensing the name to a retailer.

Anonymous said...

Some of the merchandise was previously featured in their catalogs and did not sell. I think they transfer it to the outlets. Still not sure if the merchandise in the catalog is the same quality as in the stores.

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