Neiman Marcus joins retailers cutting hours to save money

Add Neiman Marcus to the list of prominent retailers cutting hours to save money. Sagging sales, most pronounced among luxury retailers, have prompted high-end Neiman to close its Tampa store an hour early at 8 p.m. six nights a week starting July 6. The store will stay open until 6 p.m. Sundays.

Dallas-based Neiman, which is waiting out the recession by cutting operating hours at half of its 40 stores, joins many malls and chains like Best Buy that are taking similar steps.

Locally, the three Westfield malls — Brandon, Citrus Park and Countryside — have been opening a half-hour later and closing a half-hour earlier weeknights since February. While Simon Property Group trimmed hours at some of its malls in New England, it has not touched them at Tyrone Square or Gulf View Square in the Tampa Bay area. The shorter hours eat into what's historically been the golden hour for shopping: evenings when salespeople are typically the most attentive because they serve the fewest customers.

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Hard times at retail ate into many of the fat pay packages for top executives leading the 50 largest publicly traded retail companies in 2008.

In fact, average CEO compensation dropped 26 percent, compared with a 7 percent decline among all CEOs at S&P 500 companies, says an analysis compiled by Equilar Inc. for industry journal Stores.

Much of the decline came from stock grants and options taken underwater by the stock market meltdown. Among the biggest losers: Steve Odland of Boca Raton-based Office Depot, down 65 percent to $6.3 million; Peter Lynch of Jacksonville-based Winn-Dixie Stores, down 80 percent to $2.9 million; and Herb Zarkin of BJ's Wholesale Club, down 86 percent to $1.5 million.

Easily the biggest raise was the 137 percent whopper handed to Abercrombie & Fitch chief executive Michael Jeffries. He took home $22.9 million, half of it in stock awards.

And the next-fattest pay stub went to Tom Ryan, the CVS Caremark CEO, who slipped 2 percent to $17.4 million.

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OSI Restaurant Partners did quite well in annual chain restaurant ratings from Zagat Survey and Consumer Reports.

Tampa-based OSI's Bonefish Grill was the top ranked among sit-down seafood chains rated by Consumer Reports, and its Outback Steakhouse rated tops by Zagat among moderately priced steak house chains.

OSI's Carrabba's Italian Grill was rated third among Italian chains by the magazine, still ahead of Maggiano's Little Italy, Romano's Macaroni Grill and Olive Garden. In Zagat, Carrab­ba's was second for best food among all full-service chains behind P.F. Chang's China Bistro, but tops in service.

Consumer Reports also dispatched two experts to chow down at 12 steak houses. They rated Outback the best value at $22 for a "very good" steak that compared favorably to a $53 USDA prime cut from Morton's that rated "excellent."

The magazine cited Bradenton's First Watch as the top family restaurant, ahead of Bob Evans and Cracker Barrel. Beef 'O' Brady's of Brandon came in 14th of 22 pub-style chains, but ahead of former Outback brand Cheeseburger in Paradise, Chili's, TGI Friday's, Hooters and Buffalo Wild Wings.

Overall, Zagat rated the top full-service chains as "best value" in this order: Cheesecake Factory, Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, California Pizza Kitchen and Outback.

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8252.

Neiman Marcus joins retailers cutting hours to save money 06/15/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 15, 2009 7:02pm]

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