What can a company do to take the sting out of disappointing sales results? It can change the subject.
Groupon is a website that tries to offer one great coupon deal a day in cities around the country. Friday's deal is pretty aggressive: effectively a 50 percent discount on items that are typically already marked down by a third to a half.
Stores do offer up to 75 percent off in sales periods like January or June. But five weeks before Christmas? During the biggest selling season of the year?
With compelling math like that, who needs a Black Friday sale? The coupon can be used anytime between now and Dec. 31.
The coupon will be available on Groupon through the weekend, according to Groupon spokeswoman Julie Anne Mossler. If it doesn't show up in your city, try another. (For example: Miami and San Diego had it, but Boston was offering a different Groupon deal.) Limit one per customer.
The deal was so popular that Nordstrom Rack was a top search term on Google, and Twitter users were reporting difficulty getting onto the Groupon and Nordstrom sites, presumably because of the traffic.
That attention may help ease the company's disappointment over Nordstrom Rack sales, which shrank despite strong results company-wide. On Monday, Seattle-based Nordstrom reported that quarterly same-store sales of its clearance division dropped 2.2 percent from the same period a year ago.
To counter a slump in its luxury stores, Nordstrom has been aggressively opening outlet stores. Now, however, sales are rebounding in its regular stores while the outlet division struggles. Overall, the retailer reported better-than-expected quarterly profits of $119 million, up 43 percent from the same period a year ago.
So, apparently, that's what do you do when your outlet division's sales slump. You hold a sale on sale items, luring customers into your stores and clearing out older merchandise – and contemplate your next step.