Spokane Journal of Business

Coldwater takes new sales tack

Sandpoint retailer gearing catalogs to current seasons, offering three-season wear

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Coldwater Creek Inc., the big Sandpoint-based retailer, has adopted two new merchandising strategies designed to blunt the impact that the weather can have on its sales.


Under one strategy, called buy now, wear now, Coldwater Creek is offering selections of apparel and gifts that are geared for the current season, rather than a few weeks or months into the future as is common in the apparel industry, says company spokesman David Gunter. The intention is to create a mix of clothing that can be bought and worn immediately, Gunter says.


Coldwater Creeks other new strategy is to offer apparel thats appropriate for nine months out of the year, rather than just one season, he says.


Customers lifestyles are very different today, Gunter says. The career woman pretty much is going from the house to the garage to the office year-round, he says. Customers thus can wear many of the same pieces for fall, winter, and spring.


Taken together, the two strategies should reduce our future sales susceptibility to unseasonable weather conditions in key demographic markets, the company said in its most recent quarterly earnings report.


Coldwater Creek, which sells its merchandise through catalogs, over the Internet, and in a chain of 29 stores nationwide, last fall said unseasonably warm weather in many of its big markets contributed to poor sales for that period.


Although the company first implemented its buy now, wear now strategy last fall, we didnt go far enough with it, CEO Georgia Shonk-Simmons said in a conference call with analysts last week.


The company said in its third-quarter earnings statement, however, that, We do not anticipate realizing measurable benefits, if any, from these initiatives until at least the summer of 2002.


Also in last weeks conference call, Shonk-Simmons said Coldwater will cut its catalog circulation by about 22 percent by the end of the year to save money, and that it still plans to open a dozen more full-line retail stores in 2002.

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