Shoe Carnival Pivots Away from Mass Promotions, Toward Specific Customer Data


Shoe Carnival is leaning more into specific customer data from its two-year old Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform and relying less on general, chainwide promotions. Senior management at the 383-door retail chain believes the new strategy will result in further profit and sales growth. A key component of the strategy focuses on increasing merchandise margins by reducing the banner’s promotional intensity.

“The big insight that we’re shifting away from is giving everyone the same offer because we don’t know what’s important to the specific customer,” incoming SCVL President and CEO Mark Worden told analysts. “We’re now getting into a mode… where we can really think about the specific product, the sub-category and giving [customers] an offer and message that’s attractive to them.”

Shoe Carnival generated a 6.4 percent increase in Q4 comparable sales as the number of members in its loyalty “Shoe Perks” program surpassed 26 million. For all of 2020, SCVL suffered a 5.3 percent decline in comparable sales as total revenues hit $976.8 million. Ecommerce grew more than $110 million last year to account for approximately 19 percent, or $185.6 million, of all revenues.

During Q4, as merchandise margins increased 160 basis points and operating income rose 114 percent, Shoe Carnival experienced mid-teens sales growth in adult athletics and a triple-digit increase in the segment’s comparable ecommerce sales. Women’s non-athletic categories, down low-single digits, were driven by comfort sport styles and men’s non-athletic, also off low single digits, benefitted from increases in work and hiking boots. Dress shoe sales were down double-digits.

In the executive suite, Shoe Carnival has made a number of changes that include the promotion of Worden on Sep. 30 when Cliff Sifford transitions to Vice Chairman. Carl Scibetta is elevated to SVP/Chief Merchandising Officer after nine years with the Evansville, IN company. Marc Chilton moves to EVP/Chief Retail Operations Officer on April 4 to replace Tim Baker. And Patrick Edwards is now Shoe Carnival’s Chief Accounting Officer.

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