March 20, 2020 / 9:39 PM / 11 days ago

Retailers offer discounts, waive shipping fees to boost online sales

NEW YORK (Reuters) - After closing their stores earlier this week to limit the spread of the coronavirus, several retailers are dangling site-wide discounts and free shipping to entice people stuck at home to shop.

FILE PHOTO: The Nike swoosh logo is pictured on a store in New York City, New York, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

Nike Inc on Friday sent out an email to customers advertising 25% off everything on its website, a move which Jane Hali & Associates analyst Jessica Ramirez said was unusual as the sportswear giant generally has promotions only on certain categories.

“Right now, it’s more important than ever to make sure athletes like you are healthy and positive.... That’s why we’re giving you 25% off everything,” Nike said in the email.

Nike’s revenue could fall by a third during their quarter ending May 31, according to estimates from financial services firm Cowen & Co, as it reels from hundreds of store closures across the United States and in other markets, supply disruptions and the suspension of this year’s NBA season due to the pandemic.

A Nike spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Retailers are desperate to make-up for zero foot traffic after the rapidly spreading coronavirus forced them to close dozens - and in some cases hundreds - of stores.

The coronavirus has infected more than 245,000 people across the world and the death toll exceeds 10,000. To curb the spread, government officials in several U.S. states and cities have ordered all retailers selling “non-essential” merchandise to shut.

Seattle-based Nordstrom Inc, which on Monday said it would close all its stores across America, offered 25% off site-wide.

“I looked on the app today at my ‘Saved For Later’ cart and just about everything in there was marked down,” said Erica Carter, 26, currently doing her senior analyst job from her home in Detroit, Michigan.

She paid $97 for a pair of UGG boots, originally $129, and $101 for a pair of metallic silver Birkenstocks, originally marked at $135. The discounts “gave me something to take my mind off of the uncertainty that we are all having to operate in,” Carter said. A Nordstrom spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.

Nordstrom recently pulled its fiscal 2020 forecast, as did Abercrombie & Fitch and the RealReal, among others.

A slew of retailers — including LVMH’s Sephora and Macy’s Inc, which closed stores across the United States earlier this week — are waiving shipping fees, or lowering the minimum amount shoppers must spend in order to qualify for free shipping.

Marie Driscoll, managing director of luxury and fashion at Coresight Research, said she took a stroll around some of Manhattan’s most iconic department stores while they were still open for business roughly a week-and-a-half ago. Empty.

“People are buying masks,” Driscoll said. “They aren’t tracking down Louis Vuitton wallets.”

Reporting by Melissa Fares in New York and Uday Sampath Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Vanessa O'Connell and Daniel Wallis

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