DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse) is a U.S. discount shoe retailer. Unlike conventional shoe stores and department stores that pay sales associates to go to the back of the store to retrieve shoes for the customer, DSW displays its merchandise directly on the sales floor and cuts costs by eliminating the need for sales people. The company operated about 305 DSW stores in 29 states across the United States as of December 31, 2009. In addition to selling shoes through its own retail stores and its website, DSW also runs the shoe departments in several discount department store chains.
Retail Ventures (RVI), owns 60% of DSW's common shares, and controls 90% of the voting rights. Until it disposed of most of its ownership stake in 2007, RVI also owned Value City Department Stores. Under this arrangement, DSW was able to share its fixed expenses with Value City. With RVI's sale of most of its stake in Value City, DSW's fixed expenses increased significantly. Moreover, since DSW lacks an international presence; as such its fortunes are closely tied to general U.S. economic conditions, as all of its stores are located in the U.S. Falling discretionary spending in the U.S. as a result of the 2007 Credit Crunch and 2008 Financial Crisis forced the company to sell its already discounted merchandise at lower than usual prices.
DSW has a single primary distribution center, which is a 700,000 square foot facility in Columbus, Ohio. The design of the distribution center facilitates the prompt delivery of priority purchases and fast-selling footwear so we can take full advantage of each selling season.
DSW sells branded footware in large retail stores, through leased departments in other retailers, and online at dsw.com. The stores themselves are typically very large (25,000 sq ft on average), located in shopping strips, and use most of their space (about 85%) for selling.
DSW leases shoe departments in 4 other retailers: 266Stein Mart (SMRT) stores, 66 Gordman's stores, 23 Filene's Basement (BSMTQ) stores (Filene's Basement is entirely owned by DSW's parent company, Retail Ventures (RVI), and one Frugal Fannie's store. Typically, DSW owns the merchandise and fixtures, and pays a percentage of sales to the lessor as rent.
Total net sales in fiscal 2009 increased 9.5% as a result of positive comparable store sales of 3.2%, new DSW stores and increased sales from its restaurant. The increase in comparable store sales were mostly due to increases in women's shoes and accessories.  This metric is significant considering the tough economic climate in the United States during 2009. In 2009, total sales were $1.46 billion, allowing it to post a net income of $26.9 million.
All of DSW's 305 stores are located in the United States. As a result, the company's sales are highly sensitive to general economic conditions. The subprime lending crisis and the attendant housing slump and credit crunch led to a slow down in consumer spending. Since shoes are in many cases discretionary purchases, DSW was forced to discount its prices even more in order to move its merchandise. However, in 2009 DSW had an increase in comparable store sales, perhaps signaling that consumer spending confidence has recovered.
Customers in the loyalty program tend to spend more than other customers, and each year more and more customers become members of the loyalty program. Furthermore, DSW has traditionally had over 60% of its customers who were in the loyal program. DSW has over 8 million enrolled customers in the loyalty program, giving it a large base of potential repeat customers.
According to NPD Fashionworld, the adult footwear market is over $36.6 billion industry. DSW competes mainly against departments stores. DSW also competes with single-brand company stores and specialty retailers, as well as with independent shoe retailers and national chains.
DSW's main non-department store competitors are: