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Promotional Email From Retailers

Takeaway: Our retail team looks at the latest promotional email offerings from retailers.

If you're like us, you probably noted a severe uptick in promotional emails from brands and retailers over the past few weeks. That's expected, as this is the time of year when retailers transition from fall to colder-weather merchandise. In other words, an uptick in promo emails happens every year.

We track these pretty closely, and at least for the month of September there are some interesting changes in promo emails versus last year. Before we hit on callouts, let's be clear that it's tough to make conclusions around the year/over year trends -- for some brands with new product launches, it might be good to have more promotional campaigns.

For retailers with no square footage growth, it's probably bad. Also, this says nothing about the depth of the discount offered by the email. Nonetheless, we use this as one of many tools not just to draw the right conclusions, but to ensure that we're asking all the right questions to the companies.  Here are some thought.

  1. RL: The 40% uptick yy makes sense to us as the company is launching the Polo label on a much broader scale. That was not in place last year.
  2. Tory Burch: The interesting point is not the change in the business, but the fact that the company only had three promotional emails in the month of September. We'd argue that this is way too low. Definitely an opportunity to promote the brand better as it preps for the inevitable IPO.
  3. Coach: Only 10 emails in September compared to 18 a year ago. Definitely something we like to see for a brand that has become so grossly over-distributed.  Bullish on the margin.
  4. Kate Spade: 10% decline vs last year. Does not strike us as the kind of trend you'd see for a company that is worried about hitting numbers. Bullish on the margin.
  5. Urban: Trends look much better at Urban. Not quite at Anthro.
  6. Kohl's: had a fairly dramatic year-year increase (27%). This might be driven by lower email outreach in 2013 due to its e-commerce hiccup. But if we look back to 2012 -- when it had a nearly identical store base -- the company had 23 emails. Net/net, this is probably bearish on the margin.

Promotional Email From Retailers - chart2