Change is afoot at Ascena Retail Group, parent company of Ann Taylor, LOFT, and Dress Barn. The fashion conglomerate recently named new presidents–both merchandising veterans–for the two brands it went into debt to acquire back in 2015, signaling a renewed focus on merchandising, an area of serious concern for Ascena investors and analysts.
These changes on the whole herald a reset and pivot, which Ascena urgently needs. And while its stock price has stabilized (in a loose sense of that word) near a 52-week high, the current investment climate conduces antsiness. The next two quarters will prove critical to either cement or shake investor confidence in the stock.
As a price-sensitive shopper who doesn’t particularly enjoy frequent price movements, ubiquitous promotions hinder both my understanding of a brand, and relatedly, my willingness to pay full-price. No wonder discounting has been described as a vicious circle, and is harmful in the long term to brand equity.
Take, for example, the “50% off your favorite styles” sale (no code needed; you can even stack the $25 off orders over $75 welcome code–ANNWELCOME4–on top) that Ann Taylor is currently running. I probably would’ve happily paid at least $99 for the Floral Lace Flare Dress* seen here, which is now $64.50 ($89.50 – $25 welcome code), but discounting has made it difficult to know what the optimal price is.
Discounting inevitably leads to buyer’s remorse and strangely makes every retail purchase a winner’s curse. Even when a shopper is totally pleased with the dress in question and with the sale price she has paid, her overall satisfaction will be diminished when she revisits the site/store a few days later to find her dress further discounted.
But I guess what I am really trying to say is, this dress (and hundreds of styles at Ann Taylor) is now on sale at a great price online, so I would encourage browsing if you are looking to shop. My picks:
* The dress fits true to size, but the mid-calf length might be challenging. I went up a size in this style for a tiny bit more length, as the hem in my normal size hit at an awkward place.