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Macy's Business Lessons From Miracle

Stocks in this article: M AMZN WMT

As for Macy's, its My Macy's program has begun regionalizing customer service by stocking based on local needs and preferences. Holding back from eliminating local brands like Marshall Fields and Jordan Marsh may have been a better way to do this, but a regional program is a reindeer-sized step in the right direction.

2. Human relations: There were two big problems with the Macy's HR department during Miracle on 34th Street: It allowed a fall-down-drunken Santa aboard its flagship float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and it didn't know its store Santa was previously institutionalized, which led to an awkward series of tests and a violent confrontation with the company's counselor.

With placement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas reporting more than 375,000 seasonal jobs added in October and November alone, screening out the bad Santas is a must. Staffing firm Spherion (SFN) says that while 93% of companies use some form of screening, only 79% do background checks, 50% do drug tests and only 34% perform behavioral assessments.

Considering these are the people companies are putting in direct contact with their customers' children, they may want to be more thorough in finding out who's naughty and who's nice. That is why, a California-based placement firm for professional store and mall Santas, notifies its Santas of a mandatory background check amid application inquiries about belly padding and beard bleach.

3. Marketing: The in-store Santa and the Thanksgiving parade may seem like old standards now, but in 1947 they were the equivalent of Black Friday door-busters or online-only holiday deals. Characters in the film go to great pains to rail against this line of thinking --"there's a lot of bad 'isms' floatin' around this woild, but the woist is commoicialism," Albert the Brooklyn janitor laments -- but Kris Kringle himself was Macy's nuclear option in its war against long-closed Gimbel's.

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