Even on weekday afternoons, the Nordstrom Rack on 14th Street bustles with customers. The department store, which is the only Nordstrom location in New York City, is a go-to destination for shoppers who are fashion savvy, yet budget conscious.
Of late, Nordstrom Rack has another reason to be on the radar: its parent company, Nordstrom made national headlines after it announced in early February that it would no longer carry Ivanka Trump’s merchandise. The designer’s father, President Trump, then ripped the chain’s decision on Twitter. “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!” he wrote in a Feb. 8 tweet. By the end of the day on February 8, Nordstrom stock was up by more than 4 percent.
Nordstrom insists that its decision had nothing to do with politics and that the store was pulling the first daughter’s fashion line simply because sales were down. The department store’s website, at the same time, is void of any mention of her brand. Indeed, a Feb. 11 article in the Wall Street Journal revealed that sales of Ivanka Trump’s products at Nordstrom were down 70 percent from the previous year in the weeks leading up to the November 8 presidential election. Even as Nordstrom’s financial performance remained stable, Trump’s brand suffered.
Conversation surrounding Nordstrom’s decision, however, hasn’t died down and most shoppers at the 14th Street Nordstrom Rack seem convinced that the decision was political.
Deb May, 24, a Nordstrom shopper from Prospect Heights, said she didn’t have a doubt about why the store had decided to pull Ivanka Trump’s line.
“I don’t think it was fair,” said Prospect Heights resident Deb May, 24, of the store’s treatment of the president’s daughter. “I don’t know if it’s the best way to deal with protesting Trump.”
At the Union Square Nordstrom Rack, however, the Trump name lingers. In the shoe section, for example, a few pairs of the designer’s footwear linger on shelves: there are chunky-heeled mules and one pair of black strappy sandals. If there are clothes and jewelry that remain, they are hard to spot.
The manager at this particular Nordstrom Rack explained that because the store carries last season’s items, Trump’s products would remain in the store until they are all sold out. Store representatives confirmed that this was indeed the case.
“Because of variations in when previous orders were placed, when deliveries are scheduled and how quickly the merchandise sells through, customers can expect to see it available for a while,” said a Nordstrom spokeswoman.
Few shoppers took notice of the last items bearing the name of the president’s daughter this Tuesday afternoon, however.
“I don’t think she makes men’s stuff, and I don’t really do celebrity brands, anyway,” said Chris Quintano, 34, of Washington Heights.
Melissa Gomez, 34, of Flatbush, was similarly unenthusiastic about Trump’s products, but she had more precise reasons. “I wouldn’t buy the brand,” Gomez said simply because she does not like the new president.
Following Nordstrom’s February 2 announcement, the Internet was abuzz with talk of the decision’s implications. Shoppers on both sides of the political spectrum took sides. Supporters of the #GrabYourWallet campaign, which encourages consumers to buy from retailers that have dropped the Trump brand, went on Nordstrom shopping sprees. Supporters of the president, on the other hand, started circulating a #BoycottNordstrom campaign.
Kinshuk Jareth, an associate professor at Columbia Business School who has done research on marketing and the retail industry, said that while Trump’s tweet was credited with causing Nordstrom’s stock boost, many people overlooked another important factor: a promising report from the National Retail Federation about prospects for the upcoming year. It predicted that retail sales will go up.
“When as an investor you get such news, you want to get some stocks to buy. And Nordstrom was on everyone’s mind that day,” said Jareth.
Jareth is convinced that politics, however, may have contributed to the downturn in Ivanka Trump’s sales, especially given the demographics of Nordstrom’s clientele.
“If you look at who goes to Nordstrom — many of those people I would imagine, were not Trump supporters,” he said.
Not everyone is convinced though. Jachelle Whiting, 30, of Crown Heights, has worked as a buyer in the fashion industry and was on her way out from Nordstrom Rack on Tuesday. She said she doubted Nordstrom’s motivations were political.
“I thought it was a normal decision,” she said of the department stores announcement that it would no longer carry the Ivanka Trump brand. “It happens all the time. If the sales are low, then it makes sense.”