Macy’s Goes Big With World’s Largest Shoe Floor

Macy’s Herald Square opens a major portion of “the world’s largest” shoe floor today, escalating the raging battle among Manhattan’s retailers to conquer the footwear category.

Around town, there’s been an unprecedented degree of one-upmanship — one store renovates, then a crosstown rival follows suit and another emerges with a fancier format, with everyone vying for exclusives.

This month, Saks Fifth Avenue enhances its popular 10022-Shoe department with a growing contemporary component. Last month, Barneys New York launched a shoe floor, bringing men’s and women’s styles together for the first time. Not be left in the dust, Lord & Taylor is redesigning its second level to be solely devoted to shoes. And Bergdorf Goodman, the first to give shoes their due by creating a “salon” years ago, recently reorganized the space by lifestyle and pumped up the assortment with several additional designer labels.

But for now, all eyes are on Macy’s, where the biggest transformation is under way.

As part of the top-to-bottom, $400 million overhaul of the 2.2 million-square-foot Herald Square flagship, Macy’s is romancing women’s shoes by giving the category more selling space than any other retailer in the world — 39,000 square feet to be precise. That pushes Selfridges in London into second place with its 35,000 square feet of selling space devoted to footwear. Macy’s is also relocating shoes to the second floor after being less prominently housed primarily on the third and fourth floors.

All told, there will be 280,000 pairs of shoes, representing a 50 percent increase in product. Including all the back-of-the-house storage space that’s been modernized as well, Macy’s will have 63,000 square feet in total for shoes.

At Macy’s, shoes rank among the hottest businesses, along with accessories, watches, cosmetics and jewelry, though it’s not necessarily a slam dunk. “This is a category that requires excellent salesmanship, a comfortable environment and, very importantly, a wide range of product that cover the styles, assortments and price points for a large number of customers. We have all that covered,” Terry J. Lundgren, Macy’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in an interview.
Back in November, the Herald Square Macy’s revealed its plans for a $400 million upgrade, a large chunk of which would include renovating its shoe department to become what they’re calling “the largest shoe floor in the world.” Today, WWD reports that a major portion of it has been unveiled.

Once all of the renovations are complete, the shoe department will hold a whopping 280,000 pairs of shoes, a 50% increase from what it previously held. Storage space is being converted into selling space, which means that Macy’s will have a total of 63,000 square feet of selling space. That’s a ton of space.

The selection on the new floor will be neatly arranged into categories, including big brands (Cole Haan and Michael Kors), better-priced brands (Nine West and Sperry), and fashion-forward brands (Dolce Vita, Vince Camuto, and Rachel Roy.) There will also be areas for designer shoes, like Stuart Weitzman, athletic shoes, and comfort brands.

They’re also trying their hand at a luxury wing for shoes and accessories. Though Macy’s reps wouldn’t confirm which brands would be included yet, WWD points out that its biggest designer of the moment is Louis Vuitton, whose success is “encouraging the team to check out luxury brands.”

Other new amenities include sales associates with iPods. The article adds that 250 iPods will be handed off to staffers for convenient things like non-cash transactions and easier communication with the stock room. (Associates will be able to send photos of the requested shoes and sizes, rather than galloping off every two minutes to grab a handful of pairs.)

Why the huge focus on shoes? Macy’s certainly isn’t the only one beefing up its footwear game. Barneys just debuted its new shoe floor, and Saks is in the midst of doing the same. Terry J. Lundgren, the department store’s chairman, president and ceo, explains: “The most direct route to a woman’s heart is often through shoes.” It’s also a pretty easy way to get to her wallet, too.

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