Stein Mart Inc. executives say they are going back to what made them popular in the first place – lower everyday pricing – and they’re doing it by lowering prices on select merchandise while reducing coupon usage.
In a conference call this morning relating the retailer’s fourth quarter and fiscal year results interim President and CEO Jay Stein said Stein Mart had become too reliant on couponing in the last year and a half. As a result, some of the prices got too high.
“It got so out of hand that we had to reign it back in,” Stein said of the couponing. “We don’t want our customers to think they have to use a coupon to get a better price at Stein Mart.”
Stein said the price changes won’t be major reductions, averaging somewhere around 5-10 percent, and will not be on all the merchandise in Stein Mart stores. Stein said most of the cuts will be on fashion merchandise, not the Stein Mart basics.
The retailer reduced coupons by 20 percent in 2011, and anticipates reducing it by 50 percent in 2012, but, Stein said, coupons won’t be eliminated completely.
Stein Mart Chief Financial Officer Greg Kleffner said the pullback on coupons in 2011 has impacted the retailer’s results. Comparable store sales fell 2.2 percent for the fourth quarter 2011 and total sales were down 2.5 percent to $328.1 million from $336.7 million during the same period in 2010. For the year comparable store sales decreased 1.1 percent and total sales fell 1.8 percent in 2010.
Stein Mart (Nasdaq: SMRT), based in Jacksonville, operates 264 fashion stores across the U.S., six of which are located in Central Florida.