SEATTLE (AP) — Nordstrom posted a 20 percent increase in fourth-quarter net income as high-end shoppers kept spending on clothing and makeup, and customers responded positively to its service improvements.
But annual guidance disappointed investors as the upscale department store continues to invest heavily in e-commerce operations and expand its lower-priced Nordstrom Rack stores. Nordstrom's shares fell more than 2 percent in after-hours trading.
Luxury spending has rebounded since 2009, but Nordstrom is grappling with new demands from shoppers armed with smartphones and tablets. That's pushing the department store, considered the gold standard in customer service, to redefine the term for a new era. It now offers free shipping for online shoppers and has rolled out mobile devices for its sales associates so they can check out shoppers anywhere in the store.
With that rollout Nordstrom said it's removing some of the traditional cash registers at its Rack stores in the current quarter, and it looks to phase out registers in favor of mobile checkout by next year.
The latest developments come as online sales soared 31 percent in the fourth quarter and surpassed $1 billion for the first time. Within online, mobile commerce is getting hotter. In the past year, sales coming from mobile devices accounted for more than 20 percent of the company's total online sales. That was dramatically up from less than 4 percent in 2010.
"We aspire to be the retailer of choice wherever and whenever customers choose to shop with us," Blake Nordstrom, the retailer's president, told investors during a conference call after the earnings report was released. "And we understand that our customers' definition of services (is) changing."
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