Shoe Carnival is working hard to better understand the shopping needs and habits of its customers. The large U.S. family footwear chain, which operates 397 stores across 35 states, said the implementation of a CRM system — which began in 2018 and is expected to be completed before Holiday ’19 — is providing management with new insights to build localized assortments featuring its most desired brands and categories. For now, there are no plans to add additional stores in 2019; 7 to 10 locations have already been identified for closure. But learnings from the CRM implementation will help the chain open 10 new stores in 2020 within the banner’s current geographic footprint, the retailer said.
Citing the chain’s 4.7 percent comparable store sales gain in Q4 and 4.3 percent in FY18 ended Feb. 2, Shoe Carnival President and CEO Cliff Sifford admits some of the gains were likely attributable to less competition in specific geographies. The company is also making inroads with its active shoppers, who typically spend 20 percent more per visit than those customers who aren’t part of the retailer’s improved Shoe Perks loyalty program.
In FY18, Shoe Carnival hit record annual sales of $1.3 billion, helped by a double-digit increase in digital and low single-digit improvement in brick-and-mortar. The chain ended the year with inventories per store up 1.6 percent despite a double-digit decline in the boot category, which had strong demand in Q4 to help drive up merchandise margins by 90 basis points. Elsewhere in Q4, women’s non-athletic comps were up mid-single digits; men’s non-athletic rose high-single digits; children’s rose mid-single digits and adult athletic was up low-single digits, fueled by casual and running and impacted by an ongoing soft basketball category.