For example, Saks, the 110-year-old luxury department store, is in serious danger. The retailer has taken a beating over the last six months, starting with its 70%-off discounts before Thanksgiving, which were meant to stimulate sales but instead muffled them. Then in mid-January the company laid off 1,100 corporate workers. It's the consensus among analysts that Saks will see sales decrease by over 26% in the first quarter of 2009 to $636.57 million.
"I don't know if Saks will get through the year," says Howard Davidowitz, chairman of New York-headquartered Davidowitz & Associates, a national retail consultant andbanking firm. "We know that the [overall] retail business is horrendous, but if you're in the discretionary or luxury space, you're dead in the water."
Tiffany, the maker of understated jewelry tucked in a pretty blue box, is also suffering. Sales are expected to shrink in the first quarter of this year by 15.3% to $565.96 million. It's not surprising. New York-based Fortunoff -- one of Tiffany's competitors -- filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Feb. 5. Dallas' low-end jeweler Zale Corp. (nyse: ZLC -- people) plans to close 115 stores. On March 4 another jeweler, the Azusa, Calif.-based Robbins Brothers, filed for Chapter 11.