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Invest in America Week: Macy’s

Everyone knows the retail adage, “The customer is king.” But an even truer statement might be that the consumer wears the crown. Large swaths of the economy depend on the average American’s spending habits, and our much hoped-for recovery will be driven, at least in part, by their confidence in the system.

That fact hasn’t eluded Terry Lundgren, CEO of Macy’s . Which is why the consumer – and, of course, the customer – was a big theme during his sit-down with Cramer for Monday’s Mad Money, the start of the show’s Invest in America Week.

Here’s Lundgren on the 2009 holiday season: “The consumer didn’t spend last year, and I’m counting on the consumer spending a little more than they spent last year … and that’s all we need. Because our expenses are lower now, our inventory’s lower now, so we’ve been able to leverage those things to turn it into a positive.”

On inventory control: “You have to listen to the consumer and be responsive to the consumer. And I think that’s what we’ve been able to do.”

And on My Macy’s, an initiative to localize each store’s product selection, which Lundgren called, the “biggest change we’ve made in 30 years”: “You don’t learn about the customer until you’re out in those stores and listening to the customer … There’s no technology that will tell you what the customer came in for that you did not have … You have to get that from a human being who’s out there listening to the customer and telling us, ‘Let’s get this product because that’s what our customer is looking for.’”

That’s just one part of what Lundgren and Cramer touched on during the interview. So much was discussed, in fact, that the talk demanded two full segments of the show. The first was a one-on-one in Macy’s flagship location in New York City, and the second was a tour of that store, which included some very special, and surprise, guests. Watch them both here and here, respectively.

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