J. Crew customers have one major complaint — and it reveals why the company is falling apart
- J. Crew is struggling – same-store sales have been down at J.Crew for the past three years, dropping by 8% in 2016 following a 10% decrease the year before.
- The store has increasingly lost out to fast fashion stores such as Zara and H&M.
- To win back customers it has lowered prices but customers say this is destroying the brand's image and sacrificing quality.
J. Crew is trying to win back customers with lower prices, but it's backfiring.
Furious customers are complaining that J. Crew is destroying the quality of its clothing. This could help explain why so many customers are fleeing the brand.
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"J. Crew is turning into H&M," one customer wrote on the store's Facebook page. "Generic, cheap, and wannabe trendy. Quality has slipped a lot," she said.
J. Crew is struggling – same-store sales have been down at J.Crew for the past three years, dropping by 8% in 2016 following a 10% decrease the year before. In its most recent quarter, sales dropped by 12%. Fast fashion retailers such as Zara, on the other hand, have dominated the market by luring customers in with cheap prices and a constant turnover of products. Zara's parent company, Inditex, reported a 9% increase in gross profit during the first nine months of 2017.
To fight back, J. Crew has made a push to lower prices. Former CEO Mickey Drexler, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in May 2017, that they would be lowering prices on around 300 items but assured customers that this wouldn't impact quality.
But the response on social media suggests otherwise.
Some are claiming they won't shop in the store again.
Retail expert Neil Saunders claims that while quality has decreased, prices haven't.
J Crew is so hit and miss these days. And you are right about the quality, it has gone right down. Yet prices have not!
J. Crew did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.
During the early to mid-2000's, at its peak and under the creative direction of Jenna Lyons, J. Crew became a stylish and desirable brand but it also became more expensive.
In April 2015, writer Tricia Louvar wrote an open letter to J. Crew's Lyons, onThe Hairpin, prefacing it with "you are pretty dope." However, all dopeness aside, the clothes J. Crew was selling were unaffordable and not practical, Louvar said.
"If only I, an ordinary mother on a modest income, could afford to wear a $400 cashmere skirt, silk barely-there blouse and belt to a one-time business-casual event," she wrote.
Former CEO Mickey Drexler said that the biggest mistake the company made in the past few years was raising prices at a time when customers were increasingly cost-conscious.
"We became a little too elitist in our attitude," Drexler told The Wall Street Journal in an interview May 2017. "We gave a perception of being a higher-priced company than we were — in our catalog, online, and in our general presentation. Very big mistake," he said.
Now, as the company tries to execute a turnaround, it may be experiencing an identity crisis. Customers don't want to fork out $300 for a sequined blazer like the old days but they also want to know that they are shopping at a premium brand.
On one Instagram post, a commenter wrote: "Bring the old J. Crew back," in response to a photo of its new denim trench coat.
"It's no wonder you’re sales have been plummeting. You all need to update and freshen up your style/collections," another wrote.
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