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Urban Outfitters Cashes in on Customer Experience

Despondent about market news and what it's doing to the consumer mood right before the holidays? Take a look at WWD's roundup of a retailer panel at last week's RBC Capital Markets Consumer Conference.

Urban Outfitters and their sister brands, Anthropologie and Free People, are optimistic. Really. American Eagle, Tween Brands and Casual Male a little less so. Philadelphia-based Urban saw profits grow more than 78 percent in its second quarter because shoppers like its unique experiential stores.

What they said:

  • John Kyees, CFO of Urban Outfitters: "Now is not the time to be chicken. It's the time to be aggressive. You have to show unique product." Urban Outfitters can buy "broad and shallow," taking a chance on 5,000 units of something and not 100,000. "Women shop to have fun; it's not because they need clothing."
  • Michael Rayden, CEO, Tween Brands: "I think there's a much bigger fear factor than we're letting on." Tween will convert its Limited Too stores to Justice, a more value-oriented brand, and is watching competitors contract. "The pack is not growing."
  • Joan Hilson, CFO of American Eagle: Men's business has remained strong. Retailers "have to differentiate in order to win."
  • David Levin, Casual Male CEO: Analysts make too much of sales figures on Black Friday and other early numbers, ignoring a clear trend toward later shopping. "The next two weeks, everybody's going to moan and groan, 'Where are the customers?' and there will be this huge surge the last four or five days. It's been happening every year. I don't know why we think the first two weeks in December there's this Christmas rush. They are normal weeks. If you start to realize it, you can start to plan your business and not panic."
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