Macy's Business Lessons From <I>Miracle</I>

CINCINNATI ( TheStreet) -- Just about everything you need to know about holiday business can be learned by watching Miracle on 34th Street.

The 1947 film, about a white-bearded man who believes himself to be Santa Claus and a little New York outfit called Macy's ( M) that hires him to be just that and then forces him to defend his assertion in court mere days before Christmas, hides a bagful of lessons behind its grainy footage and questionable plot devices.

For Macy's, whose online sales jumped 16.5% in November even as same-store sales declined 6.1% for the month and 3.6% for last quarter, they're lessons that hit especially close to home.

As Macy's continues its "Believe" campaign in a retail environment that's changed quite a bit in 62 years, here are some business bastions from Miracle on 34th Street worth believing in. (The store declined to comment for this article.)

1. Customer service: When Kris Kringle sent customers to other stores for items Macy's didn't have, it resulted in huge returns on 34th Street, but seemed a bit of a stretch anywhere beyond the silver screen. However, Amazon ( AMZN) was ranked No. 1 by J.D. Power and Associates for customer service this year partially for doing just that.

If you go searching for a shearling boot that's only available at L.L. Bean or skull rain boots that are only for sale at The Gap, Amazon will not only tell you how much the item costs, but will provide a link to that item on the other company's Web site. That is why the Luxury Marketing Council noted earlier this year that many high-end retailers like Coach ( COH) and Burberry have cut back on advertising this season and poured their resources into customer service.

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