Give Kohl's (NYSE: KSS) credit for bravery. The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription required) that in the midst of a consumer slowdown that few observers believe will turn around anytime soon, the company opened 46 new stores. Today. CEO Kevin Mansell told the newspaper that "We've been in a period now for over a year where the customer is shopping less. You'd better start figuring out how you're going to take more from the other guy."
I like the way Mr. Mansell thinks. While competitors are battening down the hatches and closing stores, Kohl's is making an aggressive move to take market share. In addition, the company may be able to negotiate more favorable leases for new stores right now and when economic conditions rebound, as they always do, the company will be well-positioned.
Too many companies over-invest when times are good and then cut back when times get tough. That "buy high, sell low" strategy is the exact opposite of what works, and it's what's gotten the housing industry in so much trouble. Think about it: banks would lend money to anyone when homes were overpriced and now that bargains are available, you can't get a mortgage.
Kohl's strategy may not yield great results in the short-term, but it looks smart to me.