It hasn't been that long since Coldwater Creek was a premium stock, but it has weakened recently, and today it said not only will it post a third-quarter loss, but its fourth-quarter results will only break even. It blamed a perfect storm of negativity -- an increasingly promotional environment and declining customer traffic.
It's not alone, though. Many of the retailers that seek to draw mature female shoppers are hurting. I've long been a Talbots
Look at Chico's
It's easy to imagine that Coldwater Creek and Chico's might be deep bargains after this kind of carnage. Coldwater Creek is down 73% in the last 12 months. Chico's is down 40% in that same period -- and it was already pretty beaten down this time last year. I used to tend to think Chico's could turn itself around, but things are dragging on an awfully long time. But the thing that's really bugging me is that all these companies seem to be having a heck of a time drawing their customers -- the problems seem to be not only continuing, but spreading.
So are retailers really wrecked from the housing market, and these older, more conservative shoppers are feeling the pinch (not to mention fears of recession)? Or is it worse -- have these retailers completely lost sight of what their customers want, leaving these disenfranchised females furiously shopping for other options? Every retailer occasionally delivers a fashion miss, but I'm beginning to wonder if ongoing troubles signal they're missing massive demographic shifts in taste and preference. Investors need clear-cut signs these retailers are getting their acts together -- and that their customers are coming back with wallets open -- before jumping in.