DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse) is a U.S. discount shoe retailer. Unlike conventional shoe stores and department stores that pay sales associates to go to the back of the store to retrieve shoes for the customer, DSW displays its merchandise directly on the sales floor and cuts costs by eliminating the need for sales people. The company operated about 305 DSW stores in 29 states across the United States as of December 31, 2009. In addition to selling shoes through its own retail stores and its website, DSW also runs the shoe departments in several discount department store chains.
Retail Ventures (RVI), owns 60% of DSW's common shares, and controls 90% of the voting rights. Until it disposed of most of its ownership stake in 2007, RVI also owned Value City Department Stores. Under this arrangement, DSW was able to share its fixed expenses with Value City. With RVI's sale of most of its stake in Value City, DSW's fixed expenses increased significantly. Moreover, since DSW lacks an international presence; as such its fortunes are closely tied to general U.S. economic conditions, as all of its stores are located in the U.S. Falling discretionary spending in the U.S. as a result of the 2007 Credit Crunch and 2008 Financial Crisis forced the company to sell its already discounted merchandise at lower than usual prices.(Read more at Wikinvest )