Fashion’s Night Out might be fun, but let’s face facts: It costs a lot of money to pull off. What started out as Anna Wintour‘s novel economic stimulus package for an ailing retail industry has now become one big night of partying, celeb stalking that involves little to no shopping whatsoever. And some retailers are downright upset that they aren’t seeing a real return on the investment they make in FNO.
Women’s Wear Daily reports that’s because sales from Fashion’s Night Out break sometimes don’t help stores break even on the multiple events and platters of hors d’oeuvres they orchestrate for free. When FNO launched in 2009, it encouraged people to go out and shop, shop, shop. Three years later, it encourages long lines of rabid Nicki Minaj fans outside the Yves Saint Laurent boutique — and not much else.
“There’s no buying,” said Bud Konheim, ceo of Nicole Miller. “FNO is not a commercial retail event. FNO is a hype where anybody can go and get a free drink in any store in New York. What does it do for business? Nothing. FNO doesn’t move the needle, but it adds to the perception that fashion is fun. We have to make people feel good or else we’re out of business. In terms of the money we spent on FNO, we didn’t get it back.”
As one retail ceo said, “If Anna takes a year off with this, I wouldn’t complain,” referring to Anna Wintour, Vogue’s editor in chief who spearheads FNO. (Nonetheless, the ceo requested anonymity.)
Ouch. Retailers from Saks to Bloomingdale’s to Macy’s acknowledge that maybe they didn’t make as much as they could have, but they’re excited about the number of people who came into their stores “who otherwise might not have come here. They could come back and spend more.”
Meanwhile, Barney’s Madison Avenue flagship in New York reported a 35 percent increase in sales on FNO, primarily because they didn’t hire any fancy entertainment. Instead, it’s using the money it made (and saved) to make a donation to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.
We want this year to refocus all of our efforts on the shopping experience, which was the original impetus for FNO, and in turn raise the highest possible donation for a worthy cause on this solemn anniversary,” said CEO Mark Lee.
It’s poignant and sad — retail could be doing so much more on FNO without the hoopla.