Which US Department Store Is Winning the Online Race?

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No major U.S. department store chain any longer reports monthly same-store sales numbers. That’s probably due to dwindling sales in their brick-and-mortar stores. Who needs the aggravation caused by declining sales numbers and falling stock prices?

Where the stores have been posting gains — albeit from low starting points — is in online sales. A report out Wednesday from Forrester pegs online retail sales (not just from department stores) to rise 14% this year and account for nearly 13% of $3.56 trillion in total retail sales.

Brick-and-mortar department stores — particularly mall-based stores — however, have registered a sales decline of about 6% on average for the trailing four quarters. Meanwhile, e-commerce sales have improved but a shift in revenue generation from a fixed-cost store model to a variable-cost online model has played havoc with margins.

Still, some department stores are doing better than others at generating online traffic and online revenues. Retail research firm eMarketer has published a list of 14 department store chains and the number of followers of each store on various social media outlets, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest.

Here’s a look at the five department store chains that received the most website visits from all social media sources. We’ve included the percentage of total revenues generated both by the full-line brick-and-mortar stores and by the store’s e-commerce sites in for the years 2012 and 2016. The list is ranked by total website visits.

Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M)
> Total visits: 56.43 million
> Full-line revenues, 2012 and 2016: 90.0%; 82.0%
> E-commerce revenues, 2012 and 2016: 9.9% and 18.7%

Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE: JWN)
> Total visits: 48.86 million
> Full-line revenues, 2012 and 2016: 65.6%; 48.7%
> E-commerce revenues, 2012 and 2016: 12.4% and 21.8%
> Note: Nordstrom Rack stores are not included in totals.

Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE: KSS)
> Total visits: 40.58 million
> Full-line revenues, 2012 and 2016: 92.5%; 84.6%
> E-commerce revenues, 2012 and 2016: 7.5% and 15.4%

Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD)
> Total visits: 39.78 million
> Full-line revenues, 2012 and 2016: 89.1%; 82.5%
> E-commerce revenues, 2012 and 2016: 7.7% and 9.3%
> Note: Total sales dropped from about $40 billion in 2012 to $22 billion in 2016.

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP)
> Total visits: 30.33 million
> Full-line revenues, 2012 and 2016: 92.1%; 87.6%
> E-commerce revenues, 2012 and 2016: 7.9% and 12.4%

The full list of department stores’ social media traffic is available at the eMarketer website.