Sad Times Continue for Retail

In the wake of one of the least memorable red carpets in the history of the Academy Awards (granted, there were some stunners, but who knew people would ever be grasping to cling onto trends like "pearly oyster"? Oof!), there is again bad news and good news rumbling amid the retail industry.

First of all, there is incredibly news that both Macy's and Target saw lower earnings last year, and Nordstrom reported fourth-quarter earnings were down by two-thirds. But on the other side of the fence,

WWD reports that the more fashion-forward set appears to be buckling down on their major spending. Granted, it" href="">Then there's the even more depressing news that upscale department store Neiman Marcus will be cutting 450 jobs this year, as well as reducing some salaries. Seriously? Is the newly launched it's-not-Neiman-Marcus-it's-a-young-hip-boutique Cusp strategy not totally been playing out as planned? Well, in all fairness, a near half-thousand job loss is no laughing matter, particularly when it affects one of the most lavish retailers on the country.

There is one bright spot in all this, which is that J. Crew's upstart line Madewell appears determined to continue with its slow-but-steady method of growth, setting the dates for a few new store openings, even. Lessons to be learned? Department stores: tears. Spin-off boutique-y brands: smiles.

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