Neiman Marcus CEO Says Affluent Shoppers in ‘Very Good Shape’

Neiman Marcus CEO Karen Katz discusses holiday season sales and the company’s digital strategy.

America’s most affluent shoppers are capable of spending big this holiday season. They may just require a bit of coaxing.

That’s the view of Neiman Marcus Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Karen Katz, whose typical customer is a well-heeled woman.

“Her balance sheet is in very good shape,” Katz told Emma Chandra on Bloomberg Television. It’s “really a matter of how emotionally she feels about things, and she seems to be in a good place right now.”

The holiday season comes ahead of a potential tax overhaul that has been touted as a way to give consumers a boost in take-home pay. The National Retail Federation said over the weekend that shoppers are already spending more this holiday season in anticipation of a tax cut.

Neiman Marcus is already seeing some benefits. The company reported in November that same-store sales -- a key measure -- rose 4.2 percent last quarter. That was the first increase in more than two years. But the closely held department store is still laboring under billions in debt, and reported a loss of $26.2 million in the period.

Katz said Neiman Marcus’s challenge this holiday season will be to find ways to navigate the promotional waters, since shoppers are more adept than ever at spotting a good deal.

“Competing at full price is the way we like to do business, but we cannot ignore the promotional environment,” she said. “Customers are extremely savvy. They don’t want to pay more. ”

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