NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Earlier this month, JC Penney (JCP - Get Report) locations that were announced last year as part of an initial (there will be more...likely conveyed after holiday 2014) 33 total store closing plan were officially shuttered. The personal stories attached to some of these closures were heart-wrenching, as is the sad fact that most locations have not yet secured new tenants. Sources have shared with me recently that Sears (SHLD - Get Report) is preparing to launch a fresh round of store closures concentrated on the East Coast. I suppose in Twitter parlance, this is <BREAKING> news.
While these mall anchors and community staples disappear, leaving ghost malls susceptible to criminal activity scattered throughout the United States, there is one department store not named Nordstrom (note: Nordstrom (JWN - Get Report) is investing $3.9 billion in the next five years to open and remodel stores, up from $2.2 billion spent in the previous five years) seeking to triumph. That retailer: good ole Thanksgiving Day parade organizer Macy's (M - Get Report).
Macy's whopping $400 million overhaul of its Herald Square location in New York City, set for completion by the fall of 2015, receives all of the attention in terms of the company's remodeling activity. Hey, the store is pretty darn iconic. However, unknown to many is Macy's covert mission to remodel from the ground floor up its destinations in top markets in the U.S. and open stores utilizing a fresh layout.
Focused on enticing millennials to actually visit a store with their baby-boomer parent inheritance money instead of clicking on Amazon (AMZN) or a brand's actual Web site using an iPad, the Macy's of the future sports the following key characteristics that should have JC Penney, Kohl's (KSS), Sears, and even mighty Nordstrom shaking in their boots.
- A white and glass facade easily seen from the highway, with the Macy's logo matching the image found on the Web site and shopping bags. Remember, many Macy's locations continue to look like the one pictured here as opposed to the one seen here in the new format.
- Significantly larger changing rooms with brighter lighting. More room and a person is compelled to bring in more to try on (and hopefully buy).
- Gone are the cosmetics counters, in their place cosmetic stations staffed with knowledgeable "artists." In retail speak, Macy's has elevated the cosmetics buying experience via an influx of new brands and fixturing so that it can charge premium prices and spur impulse sales as the stations are passed upon entry to the store.
- Yes, a Starbucks (SBUX) could be found in the back of the store. I continue to think that large box retailers, which include Macy's, need traffic-driving food companies housed somewhere inside (ahem, Best Buy (BBY)).
- The newest shop in shop presentations from Michael Kors (KORS), Coach (COH), and Polo Ralph Lauren (RL).
- Improved sight lines on all floors, in addition to premium-looking fixtures and flooring. In many respects, Macy's has created the NEW cheap chic department store, so take that Target (TGT - Get Report).
- Scaled back low margin classifications (such as men's suits) and more floor space in clothing devoted to athleticwear from Nike (NKE) and contemporary brands Levis and Calvin Klein.
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-- By Brian Sozzi CEO of Belus Capital Advisors, analyst to TheStreet. This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.