Macy’s Catalog, We Hardly Knew Ye

The venerable Macy’s department store has been around since 1858. But the Macy’s print catalog won’t be able to boast of such longevity. Three years after the book’s long-awaited launch, the Federated Direct division of Cincinnati-based Federated Department Stores announced that the last Macy’s catalog would mail this month.

That’s not the only downsizing by New York-based Federated Direct. Its Bloomingdales.com Website is being converted to a promotional vehicle for the Bloomingdale’s by Mail catalog and the Bloomingdale’s stores. Customers will only be able to print out electronic order forms for the Bloomingdale’s by Mail catalog rather than ordering directly on the site. It will continue to maintain the online bridal registry, however, in partnership with WeddingChannel.com.

And while the Macys.com site will retain its e-commerce capabilities, its merchandise mix is changing. The site will no longer sell petite, plus-size, career, and swim apparel. On the other hand, it is expanding its selections in its more successful online categories such as bridal, home, gifts, and jewelry.“The Macy’s by Mail catalog was renamed earlier this year [to Macys.com] to become more of a marketing vehicle for the Macy’s Website,” says Federated Department Stores spokesperson Carol Sanger. “This is just a progression of what had begun a year ago.”

What’s more, Sanger says, the Macy’s Website has been stronger than the Bloomingdale’s site. (Macy’s site was launched in 1996, a year before the Bloomie’s site — though neither Website was commerce-enabled until 1998.) “Macy’s was the first of the two to go online selling merchandise,” she says, “and from the outset it has received more investment than has Bloomingdales.com. The payoff is that Macy’s is the bigger of the sites in terms of sales volume and has the most potential.”

The changes will result in the loss of 100 technical support, programming, merchandising, and administrative jobs. Federated will also take a one-time charge of $50 million-$60 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2001. Federated Direct chairman Jeffrey Sherman said in a statement that the move will reduce the expected loss and the amount of capital expenditures required for the direct businesses, keeping them on track to break even in 2003.

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