Executive Retail Insights: Shoe Carnival’s Cliff Sifford (April 2015)

Executive Retail Insights: Shoe Carnival’s Cliff Sifford (April 2015)

This month, FDRA interviewed Shoe Carnival CEO Cliff Sifford for a sneak preview of what he will be covering at this year’s Footwear Innovation Summit in DC on May 7th. Sifford will be speaking on “Retail Innovation: Technology Helping Footwear Retailers Compete and Convert Browsers into Buyers“. Click here for more information.

FDRA: You are speaking at FDRA’s innovation summit on retail innovations changing how we sell shoes  – Can you give us a teaser of what you will cover and what you are most looking forward to hearing from others at the summit?

Sifford: I am very much looking forward to sharing our story–not only our successes but some of the miscues as well. I am a huge fan of Charles Krauthammer, and I look forward to hearing him speak.

FDRA: We can’t help but ask.  You are FDRA’s membership committee chairman.  Why are you an active FDRA member, and what would you say to a retailer who asks what they can get from FDRA membership? 

Sifford: Originally I joined FDRA so that I could get the weekly retailers comparable store sales numbers. When the industry went to quarterly releases it became quite difficult to see how our business was trending versus the industry and the weekly comps helped me with that. Once we joined, we realized how the FDRA could help us in so many ways, from the CSPIA regulations to the Patent Litigation and Innovation act of 2013. I believe the FDRA is recognized most as the shoe industry’s voice in reducing or eliminating tariffs on footwear imported from the far east. The tremendous lobbying effort on passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership act along with the Trade Promotion Authority is important to every retailer of footwear in the USA.  

FDRA: FDRA’s weekly sales snapshot report, from over 11,000 stores reporting data, shows shoe stores are up around $15 million over the same time last year.  With a slowly growing economy, how much will U.S. shoe sales grow overall in 2015?

Sifford: This is a great question, and I wish I knew how to answer it. I look forward to this year, and as you know merchants are always optimistic. I like the exciting things I see happening in the footwear sector, so I believe it is a good time to be in the footwear business.

FDRA: Shoe Carnival has been growing at the brick and mortar level at the same time when some other shoe stores are flat.  What are you doing in store to keep people engaged and coming back? 

Sifford: We believe we offer our customer a fun and exciting shopping environment with a broad selection of the latest fashion with a depth of sizes. Our open sell environment allows our customers to shop at their own pace or if they prefer, get personal service from one of our sales associates that work in each department.