- Facebook/Victoria’s Secret
- Victoria’s Secret has become a discount haven, which means that major shopping days such as Black Friday don’t carry as much weight as they once did.
- Analysts say that the store is leaning on promotions to drive traffic to stores.
- Constant discounting erodes profit margins and makes it less likely that customers will ever pay full price.
Victoria’s Secret is promising to offer its “most epic” Black Friday sales ever this year, but constant discounting means that the big shopping day – and the period around it – no longer carry the same weight they once did.
While more deals are expected to come, Victoria’s Secret has already announced a string of promotions for the Black Friday season. The deals include 40% off pajamas this week, plus a chance to get a free pair slippers when you purchase a set of pajamas from November 9 through 22.
The retailer is also offering a free $20 reward card with every $40 purchase for the entire month.
These are certainly good deals, but they seem less enticing when you consider that many of Victoria’s Secret’s items are discounted throughout the year, including some of its core products.
Victoria’s Secret has increasingly leaned on promotions to drive traffic to its stores. However, as sales growth has stalled – same-store sales growth was down 5% at its stores in the second quarter of 2018 – these deals only erode profit margins further.
“Pricing power continues to erode as promotions continue to rise, yet the consumer isn’t responding,” Jefferies analyst Randal Konik wrote in a note to clients in August.
“This increased promotional posture is an attempt to conceal fading brand resonance, and could create a bumpy ride ahead as it pulls forward demand,” he later wrote in November.
Victoria’s Secret isn’t alone here. Heavy discounting has been the flavor of the past decade as retailers try to appeal to price-conscious consumers scarred by the recession. As a result, consumers have become hooked on discounts and usually aren’t willing to pay full price.
But while some retailers say they are using discounts to clear excess inventory, analysts say it is especially concerning to see that Victoria’s Secret’s deals and discounts extend to its core items. Take panties, for example – they are usually offered at five for $28.50, but are frequently on sale for less than that. This week, you can buy 10 for $35. Earlier this year, Victoria’s Secret was offering eight for $28, which works out to be the same price per item.
The Body By Victoria bras, another core product, are also currently on sale for $25 each, down from $54.50.
Konik said that it is also concerning to see sister brand Pink, which was once Victoria’s Secret’s saving grace, jump on the discounting bandwagon. In recent months, this teen label has ramped up its discounts significantly.
“Pink was never promoted like this in the past and the risk ahead in our view is Pink becomes the next Juicy Couture (e.g. boom then bust),” he wrote in August.