Steven Madden Ltd (SHOO) Q3 2020 Earnings Call Transcript

Steven Madden Ltd (SHOO) Q3 2020 Earnings Call Transcript

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Steven Madden Ltd (NASDAQ:SHOO)
Q3 2020 Earnings Call
Oct 27, 2020, 8:30 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to the Q3 2020 Steven Madden, Ltd. Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] After the speakers’ presentation, there will be a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions]

I would now like to hand the conference over to your speaker today, Director of Corporate Development and Investor Relations, Danielle McCoy. Thank you. Please go ahead, madam.

Danielle McCoyDirector of Corporate Development & Investor Relations

Thanks, Susan, and good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining our third quarter 2020 earnings call and webcast. Before we begin, I’d like to remind you that during our call, we may make certain forward-looking statements as defined in the federal securities laws regarding our expectations or predictions about the future. Generally, these statements relate to projections involving anticipated revenues, earnings or other aspects of the company’s operating results. Because these statements are based on current assumptions and expectations, they involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and factors not within the company’s control. And as such, our actual performance and results may differ materially from these statements. Our annual report and other reports filed with the SEC from time to time include detailed discussions of the risks the company faces and we urge you to refer to these. Specifically, the COVID-19 pandemic has had and is currently having a significant impact on the company’s business operations and results. Such forward-looking statements with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic include, without limitation, statements with respect to the company’s plans in response to this pandemic. At this time, there is significant uncertainty about the duration and extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the dynamic nature of these circumstances, statements made on this call regarding the company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic could change at any time. Any forward-looking statements represent our judgment as of the time of this call and cannot be relied upon as current after today’s date. We disclaim any intent or obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required under applicable law. The financial results discussed are on an adjusted basis, unless otherwise noted. A reconciliation to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measure and other associated disclosures are contained in our earnings release.

Joining the call today is Ed Rosenfeld, the Chairman and CEO of Steve Madden. With that, I’ll turn it over to Ed. Ed?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Danielle. Good morning, everybody, and thank you for joining us to review Steve Madden’s third quarter 2020 results. While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a negative impact on our business, I’m pleased with the progress we made in the third quarter, delivering revenue and earnings that significantly exceeded our expectations and also executing on initiatives that positioned the company to take market share and drive profitable growth, growing forward.

At Steve Madden, it all starts with product. And Steve and our design teams continue to execute on what they do better than anybody in our industry; identifying new trends quickly, creating product that reflects those trends and getting that product to market ahead of the competition. During this period of rapidly changing consumer preferences, we have leaned on our proven test-and-react model and industry-leading speed-to-market capability to quickly adjust our merchandise assortments to align with what our customers are looking for now, expanding growing categories like slippers and slides while reducing the penetration of down-trending categories like dress shoes. We also continue to make great progress in advancing our Digital Commerce growth agenda. We have accelerated our investments in talent, digital marketing and new e-commerce and omnichannel initiatives. Investments that position us for continued strong growth in this critically important channel, going forward. While we’ve invested in digital, we’ve also looked for ways to reduce and rightsize our expense base in other areas of the Company, including making the difficult decision that we discussed on the last call to terminate about 250 corporate employees in the third quarter, which will result in annual savings of approximately $25 million. Finally, we’ve moved quickly to manage our inventories and to dispose of the excess stock, created by the COVID-19 store closures and cancellations. As of today, our inventories are in line with sales trends and we have disposed of or have orders for more than 95% of the excess inventory created by COVID-19 disruption, positioning us to play offense as we move forward. We are confident that these actions, combined with our strong brands, pristine balance sheet and proven business model, will enable us to continue to navigate the crisis and to thrive once conditions normalize.

Now, let’s turn to our results for the quarter. Consolidated revenue declined 31%, and diluted EPS was down 42% compared to last year’s third quarter. Obviously, these are numbers we are not accustomed to at Steve Madden and we don’t plan on having used to them. That said, given the unique circumstances, we are pleased with where we came out for the quarter, with results that exceeded our forecasts on both the top and bottom lines.

In wholesale footwear, revenue declined 32% compared to our expectation of down 35%. Our core Steve Madden Women’s division declined mid teens on a percentage basis, coming in significantly ahead of forecast as we reacted to early reads — to stronger early reads on boots, particularly lug bottom styles, and accelerated boot shipments to key wholesale customers into September. Our Steve Madden Europe business was also a standout in the quarter, 9with revenue increasing from the prior year, driven by strong gains with e-commerce customers at [Indecipherable]. In wholesale accessories and apparel, revenue decreased 33% compared to our forecast of a 40% decline. We have been pleasantly surprised by the relative strength we are seeing in the handbag category compared to our expectations. Both branded and private label handbags are trending ahead of forecast with private label recording a year-over-year sales increase in Q3, driven by gains in the mass channel. Apparel also contributed to the over-achievement to plan. The co-branded BB Dakota Steve Madden product hit stores and websites in August, including Nordstrom, Revolve, Bloomingdale’s and ShopSTOP, as well as stevemadden.com, of course. And we have seen strong initial sell-throughs, particularly in dresses and sweaters. Looking ahead, while our wholesale business will continue to be under pressure due to the impact of the pandemic, we do expect to see nice sequential improvement in Q4 compared to Q3, driven primarily by continued recovery in our flagship Steve Madden brand in both footwear and handbags. We expect fourth quarter wholesale revenue to decline high teens on a percentage basis compared to the prior-year period.

In our retail segment, revenue declined 22% compared to our expectation of a 25% decrease. Our e-commerce business, particularly on stevemadden.com, remains a bright spot. Revenue on stevemadden.com increased 82% for the quarter, on top of a 72% increase in last year’s third quarter. This was our second consecutive quarter of greater than 80% year-over-year growth in that business. We continue to see robust returns on our increased investment in digital marketing and strong consumer reception to our new initiatives, like Try Before You Buy. With respect to bricks and mortar, we started the quarter with just over 50% of our US stores open. While we reopened almost all the balance in July, we had to reclose 14 stores in California from mid July through the end of September, due to reimposed government restrictions. Outside the US, our stores were open throughout the quarter, with the exception of two stores in Mexico, which reopened in August, and 21 stores in Israel, which reclosed in September and remained closed due to the reimposed lock-down. Hours of operation in our stores have been reduced by 25% to 30% on average, but we are planning on increasing hours of operation in the majority of our stores beginning in November. Traffic and sales in reopened stores have shown some improvement over the last two months, but the store business remains under significant pressure. Looking ahead, we expect fourth quarter retail segment revenue to decline in the high teens on a percentage basis compared to the prior year.

Overall, our operating margin for the quarter was 13.3% compared to 14.4% in the same period last year. Consolidated gross margin increased 130 basis points, driven by our e-commerce business, which had higher margins and accounted for a significantly higher percentage of our total mix compared to the prior year. As expected, operating expenses de-leveraged versus last year due to the decline in revenue, but we mitigated the impact through cost-cutting measures, which drove operating expenses down 24% compared to the prior year. Looking ahead, we expect fourth quarter operating expenses to decline approximately 10% compared to the prior year.

Overall, we were pleased with our execution in an extremely challenging quarter. As we move forward, we are clear-eyed about the challenges we will continue to face in the near term, but we are also excited about the opportunities ahead of us. With our strong brands, powerful business model, rock solid financial foundation and most of all, our exceptionally talented and dedicated employees, we are well positioned to capitalize on market share opportunities and drive sustainable growth in the years to come.

And with that, I’ll turn it over to Danielle to walk you through the details of our financial performance in the quarter.

Danielle McCoyDirector of Corporate Development & Investor Relations

Thanks, Ed. Given the challenging retail landscape, we were pleased with our third quarter results that came in significantly ahead of our expectations. In the third quarter, our total revenues decreased 30.9% to $346.9 million compared to prior-year total revenue of $502.1 million. Our wholesale segment declined 32.7% to $283.8 million compared to $421.6 million in the prior-year period, including a decline in wholesale footwear of 32.5% to $213.3 million and a decline in wholesale accessories and apparel of 33.3% to $70.5 million. In our retail segment, revenue decreased 22.1% to $59 million as our brick and mortar business remained under significant pressure during the quarter. In our e-commerce business, performance remained strong despite the reopening of our stores. Digital sales rose 63.3% in the quarter, including 81.8% growth on stevemadden.com. We ended the quarter with 221 company-operated retail stores, including 67 outlets and 8 e-commerce stores as well as 17 company-operated concessions in international market.

Turning to our licensing and First Cost segments. Our licensing royalty income, which is now included in total revenue, was $2.6 million in the quarter compared to $2.9 million in last year’s third quarter. First Cost commission income, which is also now included in total revenue, was $1.5 million in the third quarter of 2020 compared to $1.9 million last year. Consolidated gross margin in the quarter increased 130 basis points to 40.3% compared to 39% in the prior-year period. Wholesale gross margin rose 70 basis points to 34.6% compared to 33.9% last year, driven by an increase in wholesale accessories and apparel. Retail gross margin rose 50 basis points to 63.8% compared to 63.3% in 2019 due to stronger margin in e-commerce. Operating expenses for the quarter decreased 24.2% to 97. — excuse me, $93.7 million compared to $123.6 million in the prior year’s third quarter, reflecting the actions taken to reduce payroll and scale back on non-essential operating expenses. Operating income for the quarter totaled $46.2 million compared to last year’s third quarter operating income of $72.3 million. Our effective tax rate for the quarter was 29.3% compared to 22.6% in the same period last year. Finally, net income attributable to Steve Madden Ltd. for the quarter was $31.8 million or $0.39 per diluted share compared to net income of $56 million or $0.67 per diluted share in the third quarter of 2019.

Moving to the balance sheet. Our financial foundation remains strong. As of September 30th, 2020, we had $257.2 million of cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments and no debt. Inventory totaled $109.7 million, down 25.9% compared to the prior-year figure of $148.1 million. Capex in the quarter was $1.2 million.

Last, given the significant uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are not providing earnings guidance at this time.

Now, I’d like to turn it over to the operator for questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from the line of Paul Lejuez from Citi. Your line is now open.

Paul LejuezCiti — Analyst

Hey, thank you, guys. Curious if you can maybe talk a little bit about how you’re planning the first half of ’21, maybe speak to what your order book looks like at this time. And just from talking to your wholesale partners, are they holding off placing orders to a later date? And then also, kind of related to that, can you maybe talk a little bit about your private label business performance in the mass channel? What that might look like as a percent of total as you think about F-’21 versus where you were, let’s say, in F-’19? Thanks.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Sure. Yeah. In terms of how they — the wholesale customers are thinking about spring, I think that, overall, they’re taking a fairly conservative approach and most folks are planning that business down to if you want to compare it to ’19 or compare it to what the plans look like for ’20 at this time last year. And I think that, on average, the plans are probably down 15% to 20%. Again, this is for their overall businesses. Not, at this point, going to provide exactly what we think it’s going to look like for us. But that’s — those are the types of numbers we’re hearing from the wholesale customers.

And then in terms of private label, yes, we feel fortunate that we have this private label business with the mass merchants that’s very significant for us. It’s close to $300 million business between the two big mass merchants and we’re doing well with them and we’re in a lot of discussions with them about new initiatives, and that business should grow for us in ’21. And so, yes, I do anticipate it will make up a more significant percentage of the mix next year.

Paul LejuezCiti — Analyst

Got it. Thank you, Ed. Just one follow-up. Can you maybe talk a little bit about what you’re seeing from an e-com perspective, just in terms of the average order size online during this period versus, let’s say, last year? Average order size, UPT, return rate and if you could just speak to what you’re seeing on that direct business. Thanks.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Sure. Yeah. Well, certainly over the summer, we saw a decline in the AUR. We were more promotional on our own website than we were a year ago, as we were utilizing that channel to clear through some of the excess inventory created by all the COVID-19 disruption. We’re also selling some lower AUR items, like masks. But as we come into fall here, we’re seeing that AUR creep back up. And I think, going forward, it should be more in line with what we’ve seen historically.

In terms of UPT, on the other hand, that was up over the summer and that was helping us to counteract some of the decrease in the AUR. And also, as we’ve used — I think we’ve talked in the past about the success that we’ve had with our installment payment program, which we modified over the summer to add this Try Before You Buy concept, and we’ve talked about how that drives a significant percentage of our checkout now. And on those orders, we see a very nice lift in the average order value compared to the balance of our orders. So, that’s also helping to drive average order value up.

Paul LejuezCiti — Analyst

And I think on return rates, Ed?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

I’m sorry. Yeah, return rates have not moved significantly from where they’ve been historically.

Paul LejuezCiti — Analyst

Great, thank you. Good luck.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks.

Operator

Next question comes from the line is Camilo Lyon from BTIG. Your line is now open. Thanks. Good morning. How are you guys? Ed, in the past, you mentioned the disparity between full-price wholesale partners and the off-price channel. Can you talk about if that disparity and that gap is still present, and when do you anticipate that gap from an ordering perspective to close?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Yes, good question. So definitely, in Q3, we saw that our sales to those full-price accounts were considerably better than what we saw in selling into the off-price channel. This is, I’m talking about our shipments; not our sell-through. But we’re going to see that start to get much better in Q4 and I think it should be — the channel should be more aligned, going forward.

Camilo LyonBTIG — Analyst

That’s great. And then I think, shifting gears a little bit toward the markets or comments that you’ve been making, we’ve seen that as well, given your newness and the products you’ve been bringing to market. Is it — Have you started to see that reflected in your order patterns, or is it still a little bit too early for that to actually materialize and whether it’s at-once orders, reorders or even spring orders?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, no, I mean, look, we’ve got some strong-selling products and we’re seeing the retailers react to it. And we’ve certainly chased into some items here for fourth quarter, particularly in the boot category. I mentioned, I think, the lug boots in the prepared remarks and those are doing great for us. So yes, we are starting to see the retailers react to that.

Camilo LyonBTIG — Analyst

Great. And just the last one for me is on the gross margin. You didn’t give any color on where you thought Q4 gross margins would shake out. But just talking about the last two quarters, margins have been up about 130 basis points and with Q4 being a bigger DTC quarter, safe to say that that’s at least where we should shake out for Q4 margins?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

I don’t know, I would say at least, but I definitely do think that we can see some year-over-year gross margin improvement. You commented on the DTC issue. That’s one thing, but also just our inventories are very well controlled. You saw that they were down 26% at the end of Q3, and we’ve guided revenue to down high teens in both wholesale and retail. So obviously, very well controlled inventories and I think that we should be able to drive a little bit of gross margin improvement in Q4.

Camilo LyonBTIG — Analyst

Great. Best of luck in the holiday.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Camilo.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Erinn Murphy from Piper Sandler. Your line is now open.

Erinn Murphy from Piper Sandler? Your line is now open.

Erinn Murphy from Piper Sandler? Your line is now open.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Operator, can we move on and come back to it?

Operator

That is noted.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks.

Operator

Next question comes from the line of Janine Stichter from Jefferies. Your line is now open.

Janine StichterJefferies — Analyst

Hi, good morning. Thanks for taking my question. I mean, you touched a bit on AUR trends for the e-commerce business. Just wanted to ask about broader AUR trends. You mentioned some puts and takes in terms of product with some of the boots reforming well, but then also I think slippers and slides trending. So, are there any implications for how we should think about AUR just from product mix in the fourth quarter? Thank you.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. I think that you hit on it, which is that we’ve got some — we’ve got slippers, which is only about 1% of the women’s mix in last year’s fourth quarter and will be about 9% this year. So, that’s obviously a lower AUR item. But on the other hand, boots and booties, they are making up a bigger percentage of mix. I think that was about 44% last year and is going to be more like 50% this year. So, the net effect is pretty modest. I don’t think there’s going to be a big swing in AUR in Q4.

Janine StichterJefferies — Analyst

Great, thanks. And then just a follow-up on gross margin. I think you mentioned that e-commerce gross margin was better. Was that just a function of, I think you mentioned last quarter, you were shipping more from the warehouse? Was there anything like that going on, or anything going on in terms of promotional level that drove that?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Well, e-commerce, relative to the bricks and mortar, as we’ve talked about historically, is always higher than bricks and mortar. And we continue to not be super promotional in e-commerce. As I said, we were slightly more promotional, particularly early in the summer, than we were a year ago. But as we’ve gone through the third quarter, certainly in the fourth quarter we’ve dialed back on that. And even at the tail end of third quarter, we still had a lot of — some promotional messaging that referred to the fact that the products that we had in the clearance buckets was a relatively small percentage of the overall stuff on the site and we were still driving a lot of full-price selling there.

Janine StichterJefferies — Analyst

Great, thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Matthew Degulis from KeyBanc Capital Markets. Your line is now open.

Matthew DegulisKeyBanc Capital Markets — Analyst

Good morning, guys. Thanks for taking the questions. So, I’m wondering how the growth of e-com will intersect with wholesale maybe next year. So, with the growth of e-com, your owned e-com, and I know you’ve used your own e-com to test product in the past. I’m wondering how maybe a higher end, meaning, you might now some more test product online and get more eyeballs on it, might help your case and increase initial inventory order size from your wholesalers and help you take shelf space from your wholesalers, moving forward?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

I’m sorry, you were cutting out at the beginning of that question. Could you please repeat that?

Matthew DegulisKeyBanc Capital Markets — Analyst

Yeah. So, I just thought you guys test online. And now, with your e-commerce growing so quickly, you get more eyeballs on your test product. I’m wondering how that may be helps your case with your wholesale customers, moving forward, and maybe helps you take shelf space next year.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, that’s an interesting question. Look, I think that we had plenty big enough sample size on our test products, whether we were testing it in stores or online, even previous to what we’re seeing now. So, I honestly don’t think that that makes any significant difference.

Matthew DegulisKeyBanc Capital Markets — Analyst

Got it. Okay, and one separate question. You mentioned lug boots a bit, but can you comment a bit more on the overall boots and booties category this winter? How maybe the higher AUR will flow through to revenue and gross margin? I asked because I think the case to be made that people want to spend a lot of time outside when it’s slushy this winter, which could provide a nice tailwind to a brand like Blondo, but I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Look, we’re seeing some — we’re seeing nice trends in the boot category. It was — I think we were sort of pleasantly surprised about how it started selling early. We initially went into the season assuming that the spring-summer stuff was going to really sell late in the season, but boots really came on quite early. And as we indicated earlier, we’re able to chase into some of that product and move some shipments up into Q3 and then chase into some more boot business for Q4. I mentioned these lug styles. I think that’s interesting because it’s a casual boot and comfortable, which obviously plays into the broader trends that we’re seeing right now. But it also has the ’90s fashion trend element to it as well. So, we’re seeing — we’re feeling very good about that. And overall, we’re just seeing — as I mentioned, we’re seeing that drive a bigger penetration in the overall business. So, that’s baked into the sales forecast that we’d provided.

Matthew DegulisKeyBanc Capital Markets — Analyst

Thanks, guys. Best of luck.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Sam Poser from Susquehanna. Your line is now open.

Philip WalshSusquehanna — Analyst

Good morning. You have Phil on for Sam here. Thanks for all the color here and thanks for taking my question. Could you maybe just walk us through some of the highlights and lowlights for the other segments of the business; maybe by brand, maybe Men’s, Anne Klein, Blondo, Madden Girl? Any color on what you’re seeing now and how you see those brands performing, as you look at it? Thank you.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Sure. Yeah. Well, you hit on a couple of the ones that are tougher, frankly. And if you look at our overall performance, clearly, Steve Madden Women’s is outperforming our overall business. Kids is also outperforming. Men’s is a category that’s tougher. I think that we’re seeing what pretty much everybody else that’s not a big athletic player is seeing, which is that if you — historically, you’ve had success in the dress and dress casual, part of the Men’s market; that’s obviously not doing as well right now. And so, we’re in the process of trying to — not trying, we are changing our — modifying the merchandise assortment there to get more casual and introduce more slides and slippers even in casual products. Anne Klein also clearly has a little bit of the wind in its space, given its historical positioning of being more career and having more dress product. But the team, I think, has done a great job of, again, getting some great new casual styles in going forward. And so, looking forward to that business getting better in spring. Madden Girl, I feel good about what we’re seeing there in terms of sell through over the spring-summer period. They have a really nice position in the Footbed category that’s been important for them for the last few years. So, that obviously aligns with what we’re seeing in the COVID-19 world. And there — And like Steve Madden, they’re doing quite well with boots; some lug boots, combat styles, etc. So, I think that pretty much covers it.

Philip WalshSusquehanna — Analyst

Great. Great, that’s very helpful. Thank you. Best of luck over this holiday.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Jay Sole from UBS. Your line is now open.

Jay SoleUBS — Analyst

Great, thank you. Ed, can you talk about what you’re seeing from your customers in terms of if the trends you’re seeing are due to the stay-at-home trend or more to the casual trend, or is it just sort of an economic thing where obviously there’s somewhat of a recessionary environment out there? Can you sort of talk about what do you think the biggest driver is?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

In terms of what we’re seeing in terms of product trends, no, I definitely think that the stay-at-home, work-from-home casualization, I think that’s a very big driver of what we’re seeing now and probably, the most significant factor.

Jay SoleUBS — Analyst

What are the signs that you’re going to look forward to decide, like, what next year is going to look like? If we’re going to see — Do you think people would want to come back to work? Have you done any studies of that, or any thoughts on what we might see next year in terms of how consumers might respond?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Are you talking about in terms of what products would be good, or what the numbers will look like?

Jay SoleUBS — Analyst

No, just in terms of stay-at-home, are people going to continue to want to stay at home and wear casual, or do you think we’ll see a reversal back to some of the more traditional dress footwear styles?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Look, I think what we — as you know, what we do is we let the customer tell us. We’re constantly testing new products and then chasing into the ones that the customer responds to. So, I don’t think I’m going to make any predictions about what the world is going to look like. Obviously, what happens with the virus is going to be the biggest determinant of that. I think there is a good bet that whenever things do clear up with the virus, that there’s going to be some pent-up demand to — for folks to want to get out and do stuff and probably wear some dress shoes and — But when exactly that will happen? I don’t have any more insight into that than you do.

Jay SoleUBS — Analyst

Okay. Then, maybe one more. Can you just elaborate a little bit on some of the accelerated investments you’re making in e-com and digital, sort of what — where you’re focused and what the goals are?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Well, look, we’re pulling back on expenses throughout the business, but not in that area. In that area, we’re really investing. I think it starts with talent in the organization and we’ve brought on some very high-level talent that we’re very excited about, over the last couple of months. We talked about the digital marketing investments that we’re making. Our digital marketing spend is up dramatically this year versus last year. And we’re getting returns on that, whether that’s across all the normal channels; paid, social, email, text, influence or paid search, etc. We also — we just launched a new app about a month ago, which we’re excited about. We’re rolling out a lot of new initiatives; I mentioned Try Before You Buy. We’re — I’m also excited, I think longer term, about the enhanced delivery options. You may recall that a couple of years ago when we introduced free two-day shipping, that was — that really was very successful for us and we want to up the ante even further. And so, earlier this year, we started testing free one-day shipping and same-day delivery in — Obviously, we offer that where we can do it cost effectively, where we have stores that can facilitate the delivery there. And that’s in a handful of stores now; I think about 17 stores now. And we’ll roll that out to the balance of the chain, going forward. And there’s a whole bunch of other initiatives that we’re working on, that we’re not ready to unveil yet. But it’s certainly the number-one focus area for our company and we’re excited about the momentum that we have there.

Jay SoleUBS — Analyst

It sounds great. If I can actually sneak one more in, just on — if you could clarify your comments on handbags a little bit. Was it just really in the mass channel where you saw the surprising strength, or was it sort of across all your channels? And is the guidance for high teens, down high teens 4Q sales, does that apply to the wholesale accessories business as well?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. So, we’re actually also pleasantly surprised of what we’re seeing in the branded side, and particularly in what we’re looking at in terms of our orders for Q4. We see a really nice recovery in our branded handbag business, particularly the Steve Madden brand. And so, yes, in terms of that down high teens forecast for Q4 in wholesale, I actually think in this case, wholesale accessories and apparel will actually be better than that. So, wholesale accessories and apparel should even be a little bit better than wholesale footwear in Q4.

Jay SoleUBS — Analyst

Got it. Thanks, Ed.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Jay.

Operator

The next question comes from the line of Laura Champine from Loop Capital. Your line is now open.

Laura ChampineLoop Capital — Analyst

Thanks for taking my question. It’s really a follow-up on what you just said, Ed. So, what a lot of retails obviously trying to move holiday season earlier for a variety of reasons this year, do you actually have better visibility into Q4 trends than you normally would at the end of October?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

I don’t know, I would say that. Yes, I think we do obviously anticipate or are aware that everybody is going to try to start their promotions really, I think, for the whole month of November this year and try to elongate the holiday season. But, I can say that we have better visibility. And certainly, if you think about the surging COVID-19 cases recently and the uncertainty that that creates, I still think it’s a pretty volatile and uncertain environment.

Laura ChampineLoop Capital — Analyst

Got it. Thanks for the context.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Next question comes from the line of Dana Telsey from Telsey Advisors.

Dana TelseyTelsey Advisors — Analyst

Hi, it’s Dana. Thank you for taking the question. As you think about fulfillment and the fulfillment options, what are you thinking and how you’re planning on shipping and surcharges that are expected, whether it’s the holiday season or go forward? And then, I have a follow-up. Thank you.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Sure. Yeah, well, so, historically, with our e-commerce business, we’ve actually fulfilled the majority of our orders from our stores. This year, we’ve done a lot more out of the warehouse, given the COVID-19 disruption. We would like to swing some of that back to the stores, but it’s a bit of a moving target. And one thing that we did have to suspend, which I probably should have mentioned earlier when I alluded to free two-day shipping, was that we have suspended free two-day shipping this year. And that originally was due to some of the disruption, but now is really primarily due to the fact that the shipping carriers are not willing to commit to their normal levels of service, given the overwhelming demand that they have right now. So, we look forward to being able to get back to that early next year. And then you mentioned the surcharges. Obviously, we’re aware of that issue and have baked that into our internal forecast here for Q4. And the good news is we do have some contractual protection that with — in our contracts with them that caps how much we can get hurt by that, but certainly it will impact us.

Dana TelseyTelsey Advisors — Analyst

Got it. And then as you think about the e-commerce margins, given the strength there, are e-commerce margins accelerating as you’re scaling the e-commerce business? And is there any penetration rate that you’re looking at, as we hopefully get to the other side, some time next year, as what percent of the business should be e-commerce as a result of this? Thank you.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. We continue to see profit margins increase in e-commerce. So over the last few years, we’ve driven this very strong sales growth. But about each year, the growth in profitability has been in excess of the growth in top line, as we continue to drive that profit margin up. So, we’re pleased about that. We still think we have some potential for continued improvement in the profit contribution margins from e-com. In terms of where I think the penetration will be, look, if we are putting the whole thing together, wholesale and retail, we were at about 20% in 2019 e-com. This year, it’s going to be close to double that. I don’t know exactly where it will come in, but it’s up dramatically. And I think certainly, at some point, we’re going to probably see 50%.

Dana TelseyTelsey Advisors — Analyst

Got it. And are there other expense benefits that you’re benefiting from, like lease renegotiations? And are you seeing outlet versus full-line stores as — Typically, outlet’s done a little bit better for you. What are you seeing there?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Sure. So, in terms of the lease negotiations, yes, we have reached agreement with a number of our of landlords and we’ve taken kind of a customer approach based on the lease. So, we’ve done a few different things. In some cases, we’ve restructured the leases; in essence, buying out of the current obligation and replacing it with a percentage rent structure going forward. And we have — In other cases, we’ve just gotten current period abatements. We’ve also bought out some leases outright. And so, we’ve done a handful of things, but we’ve also a number of those negotiations remain ongoing. And so, we’re continuing to work with our landlord partners on that.

And then, I’m sorry, what was the second question?

Dana TelseyTelsey Advisors — Analyst

Outlets versus full-line stores?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

That’s right. Yes, yes. Outlets continue to perform better than full-line stores. That’s not surprising that people are more comfortable going to whatever primarily outdoor centers compared to enclosed malls. But on average, outlets have been 1,000 basis points better than full-price stores, or even more, maybe more like 1,200 basis points better.

Dana TelseyTelsey Advisors — Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Next question comes from the line of Susan Anderson from B. Riley security. Your line is now open.

Susan AndersonB. Riley FBR — Analyst

Hi, good morning. Thanks for taking my call. I’m curious if you could talk about the usage of Afterpay on your website and, I guess, what percent of sales is coming from Afterpay and if you could maybe talk about conversion and basket size there, if they help with that.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Well, I can’t give you the actual number, but I think we’ve been pretty clear that it’s a very significant percentage of checkout. And they were getting a very significant lift in the AOV on those items. But I don’t think I can get any more granular from that.

Susan AndersonB. Riley FBR — Analyst

Okay. And then also, I was wondering if you had an update on China-sourcing exposure, as potentially we could get some sort of change there with the election.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. So, as you know, we were working diligently to shift production out of China back in spring. If you look just at our landed goods, excluding the First Cost business, we were in the low 60s out of China, which was down from the 90s a couple of years ago. I think we’ve talked on previous calls about the fact that for fall, we really suspended that process of continuing to move out of China because in the COVID-19 environment since the beginning, when obviously there were some disruption in China, China has been the most reliable place to be. And we were — that was the place where we were the most confident that we’d be able to get the goods for fall, given the — what’s going on in a lot of the other countries that we were sourcing from. So for fall, most of the stuff is still coming from China, but I think for spring, you’re going to see us start to continue to diversify out of China again. And that will include countries like Mexico, Cambodia, Brazil, Vietnam, etc.

Susan AndersonB. Riley FBR — Analyst

Great. And then I guess lastly, as we look out to next year, and maybe even the back half of next year, how are you thinking about the mix of casual, which I know you were chartered mix more into. But, I guess, at what point in time do you think you’ll think about kind of reversing that and going back in the fashion?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Well, we’re going to let the customer dictate what the category mix looks like. And that’s what we’ve always done. We test and we react to what the customer wants. And then, we adjust our merchandise mix based on consumer preferences. And the last thing I’ll just say is I just want to be clear that casual is fashion. So, there is casual shoes and dress shoes. But our customers still want fashion and even the folks that want more — even as we see more casualization, folks still — our customers still want casual products that are fashionable. So, a lot of these styles that we’re selling are — One of the things that — The big trend that we’re seeing right now really across our business is how strong we are doing with novelty products and sort of wow-type styles that, maybe, used to be more frenzy kind of styles, but now are really becoming your biggest sellers. So, folks are really gravitating. Even if they’re buying a slipper or a slide or a sneaker, they’re gravitating toward exaggerated embellishment, ornamentation, etc. Customers really want that emotional product and it’s — I think, it doesn’t hurt that these are the types of products that really pop online as well. But again, just the point I am making is that we’re — even when we are doing casual products, we’re still — they’re still fashion forward.

Susan AndersonB. Riley FBR — Analyst

Great. Yeah, that makes sense. Well, thanks so much. Good luck next quarter.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Next question comes from the line of Tom Nikic from Wells Fargo. Your line is now open.

Tom NikicWells Fargo — Analyst

Hey. Good morning, guys. Good morning, Danielle. Thanks for taking my question. I wanted to ask about the cost structure of the business. So, I know you have the $25 million that you’re saving from the headcount reduction that you did in Q3. Are there any other cost saves when we kind of think about, I guess, the sort of more normalized opex structure of the business? Should we think that store operating hours will sort of be less than they were pre-COVID? Are there any other sort of cost saves that we should think about as we model in 2021 and beyond?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Well, I alluded to the negotiations with the landlords. And we have made significant progress there. And we’ve been able to restructure a number of leases, we’ve gotten out of some bad leases. And so, we will have a significant saving in ’21 and beyond compared to where we were prior. And I think given that we have a couple of the big conversations ongoing there, I’d prefer to wait to quantify that until we resolve those. But that’s a significant number as well. And look, we’ve taken that — we’re taking a hard look at every expense line item, a lot of the discretionary expenses that we took out this year. I think we’ll be able to continue to see savings in those buckets, going forward. And we’re going to continue to really control it. Again, we were down 24% in Q3; we’ve said we think we’ll be down about 10% in Q4.

Tom NikicWells Fargo — Analyst

Understood. Thanks, Ed. Best of luck for the holiday season.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Tom.

Operator

Next question comes from the line of Chris Svezia from Wedbush. Your line is now open.

Chris SveziaWedbush Securities — Analyst

Good morning, Ed. Good morning, Danielle. Nice job on quarter. I have a couple of things. I guess number one, just go back to the gross margin on wholesale footwear and accessories. The improvement, you mentioned that it was driven largely by the accessories and apparel piece. Maybe unpack a little bit of color about what happened on footwear. I think you are going to be selling a lot of the product you took reserves for earlier in the year. Just maybe unpack maybe where the footwear wholesale margins stand at this point, and do they really start to accelerate in Q4 and beyond, or is there still more pressure there?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. So, wholesale footwear was down about 100 basis points in Q3. And that was better than we had anticipated. We were clearing through a lot of that COVID-19 inventory, but we did better than we anticipated that we would on the clearance of that. So, we — So, the teams did a great job and we got a better recovery from the folks that we sold to than we thought we would and we also worked with our factory partners to get some concessions on that end. So, overall, we did not take the hit that we expected on clearing that merchandise. And there is some of that is going to go out in Q4 as well. But again, I think that margins in wholesale footwear could be flat to even modestly up in Q4.

Chris SveziaWedbush Securities — Analyst

Okay, that’s helpful. And I want to go back to the comment you made earlier in the Q&A. When you look at the marketplace first half of 2021 and overall, you said down the 15% to 20% for the industry. Are you just looking across all channels in line mass — across all channels that would look like, or is that just more of the in-line channels?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

That’s really the branded channels. I think the mass channel should be considerably better than that.

Chris SveziaWedbush Securities — Analyst

Okay. And then just, I’m curious, the off-price channels. Just where does that stand? It seems like they would have inventory packaway product, or just shifting into other categories you think about first half, is that starting to open up more, or is that still a pressure point in terms of — I know that’s typically an opportunity very profitable for you guys. I’m just curious how you think about that. Do you think about that down 15% to 20%?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I’m glad you asked that question because I realize that I neglected to talk about spring when I addressed this off price versus full price question earlier. So, yes, we have seen — After off price trailing full price by a pretty wide margin in Q3, we have seen off price opening up and coming back for Q4. And again, it’s better than we anticipated for spring of ’21. However, I think you raised a really good point, which is that there is a lot of pack and hold inventory that — spring-summer products that were sold into those folks that they’ll be able to put out for spring of ’21 and that definitely will impact their appetite for upfronts. And so, that’s just something for us to be cognizant of as we look at spring ’21.

Chris SveziaWedbush Securities — Analyst

Okay, that’s helpful. And just on — remind us again on private label. Maersk seems to be the growth engine for you guys, doing really well there. Just from a profit perspective, maybe unpack how we maybe think about that relative to the core in line or even the off-price business. Is that in line, is it slightly less or sort of where does that fall in the mix?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Well, [Indecipherable] the gross margins are considerably lower in that business. It also has a lower operating expense structure. But even so, the operating margins are lower there. It’s a nice business because we do it with no inventory risk or investment, because we do it on a First Cost basis primarily, but the operating margins are lower.

Chris SveziaWedbush Securities — Analyst

Okay. Final thing for me. Just when you think about your stores, and I know you — I think you said in aggregate between the digital and the retail piece down in this, I think, high teens. How do we think about stores and the potential for additional closures as we kind of move through the fourth quarter and holiday? Are you sort of factoring in kind of stays where it is, or are you factoring it gets — I don’t know, how are you thinking about that in terms of how that moves around?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Well, we certainly have not factored in any improvement from where we are today. And I think we could even soften a little bit and hit that number.

Chris SveziaWedbush Securities — Analyst

Okay, got it. Okay, that’s all I have. Best around the holidays. Take care. Thank you.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Chris.

Operator

Next question comes from the line of Erinn Murphy from Piper Sandler. Your line is now open.

Erinn MurphyPiper Sandler — Analyst

Great, thanks. Good morning, and thank you for putting me back in the queue. I guess I had a follow-up, Ed, for you, just on one of the earlier questions around shipping surcharges. Are you seeing any pressure build in terms of ocean freight or anything that’s starting to bubble up at the ports at this point, just given people trying to get ahead of the holiday season?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. So, there’s — I think there’s two issues there. There’s — One is just there’s delays, and then there’s also the — what it costs. So, I think there has been delays sort of throughout the supply chain for us and for just about everybody else. I think there was sort of a limited supply or a challenge getting containers and vessels, which slowed things down overseas. There has been a little bit of port congestion. And then even when you get it into the warehouses here, both our warehouses and the warehouses in particular of our wholesale customers, have been slower just due to some labor shortages and other disruption due to COVID. So, that has been an issue. It’s probably added a couple of weeks to the whole process of getting shoes from the factory to the store. But the other thing is that we have seen increases in freight rates. The big dramatic increase has been in air freight. That’s up about basically double from where it was earlier in the year. So, we’re having to be pretty judicious about what we put on an airplane. But even ocean rates are up 25% to 30%.

Erinn MurphyPiper Sandler — Analyst

Got it. Okay, that’s helpful. And then, sorry if I missed this, but just with the second or I guess third wave in some parts of the US kind of hitting across, has traffic — consumer traffic decelerated even further as we’ve moved into October?

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

At this point, we have not seen a further deceleration, but we have seen a stagnation in terms of the improvement. September was considerably better than what we saw in July and August, and October is sort of flat to September.

Erinn MurphyPiper Sandler — Analyst

Okay, that’s helpful. And then just last question. Just going back to private label and just thinking about Target and Walmart in particular, how big do you feel like those businesses could be over time? And is there a way that you’re trying to balance them so they’re not so big, but just you can kind of still keep your first-market or first-tier kind of branded product in the focus? Thank you.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Look, I don’t have a forecast for how big they can be. I guess what I would say is I think it’s a strength of our company that we have the position that we do with them, because they do have the wind at their backs right now. And those customers, they are taking share across a lot of categories including shoes, accessories and apparel. And so, we want to continue to grow with them. I don’t say we think about it in terms of what’s the percentage compared to everything else. We just — We want to figure out to grow our branded businesses well and we’re and we’re committed to doing that, whether it’s in digital channels or otherwise. But, we need to — we definitely — we’re not going to constrain the growth of the mass channels for it that way.

Erinn MurphyPiper Sandler — Analyst

Got it. Great, thank you and all the best.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Erinn.

Operator

I am showing no further questions at this time. I would now like to turn the conference back to Ed Rosenfeld.

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Okay. Well, great. Well, thanks, everybody, for joining us and hope you have a great day. And I look forward to speaking with you on the fourth quarter call. Bye-bye.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 59 minutes

Call participants:

Danielle McCoyDirector of Corporate Development & Investor Relations

Edward RosenfeldChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Paul LejuezCiti — Analyst

Camilo LyonBTIG — Analyst

Janine StichterJefferies — Analyst

Matthew DegulisKeyBanc Capital Markets — Analyst

Philip WalshSusquehanna — Analyst

Jay SoleUBS — Analyst

Laura ChampineLoop Capital — Analyst

Dana TelseyTelsey Advisors — Analyst

Susan AndersonB. Riley FBR — Analyst

Tom NikicWells Fargo — Analyst

Chris SveziaWedbush Securities — Analyst

Erinn MurphyPiper Sandler — Analyst

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