Retail News Digest for Sunday, February 27, 2011

Comings and goings:

Other retail news:

10 thoughts on “Retail News Digest for Sunday, February 27, 2011”

  1. Also, Super Kmart Centers in Tabb VA, Fremont OH, and Medina OH (the original Super Kmart) are not closing, but merely shrinking into Kmarts without a major grocery section, and going to 8am-10pm operation instead of 24 hr.

  2. And no information on the (icky) new JCPenney (oh, I’m sorry, “jcpenney”) logo?

  3. @Pseudo3D, JCPenney actually just opened a brand new store–the closest one to my house–that actually uses the new logo on the building. I’m hoping to get a picture of it and share.

  4. I’m not surprised at the Dillards closing at the Decatur Mall in Alabama. They’ve been saying if they couldn’t consolidate into one store, they’d close. Also, the Men’s store that’s in the old Roger’s department store, although it looked neat when it opened, has deteriorated both in appearance and merchandise in the past few years. Low CRI mercury vapor and metal halide lights do not make clothing merchandise look good at all, and I’ve often said that the entire mall has all the charm of an old mercury vapor light bulb these days. The Sears wing is mostly vacant and if it weren’t for fye, there would be nothing on it except Sears at the end. fye has roof leaks that have gone unfixed for ages. Nobody puts any maintenance or upkeep or renovation money into that mall.

  5. A little info on Estrella Falls:

    It’s for the fast-booming Southwest Valley of Phoenix, such as Goodyear and Avondale. The closest mall in the suburbs for them is Arrowhead. Chandler Fashion Center (my mall – but one that, due to its sheer traffic, probably won’t wind up here anytime soon) might appear close on a map, but South Mountain chops the southwest Valley up with no way to go around it (though a South Mountain Freeway around there has been planned for years!)

    Enclosed malls are getting rarer. I still think Tuttle Creek is the newest in the country, correct?

  6. @Raymie, I think you are correct on that, but it’s Turtle not tuttle Creek. I think you mixed it with a mall in suburban Columbus OH called Tuttle Crossing.

    That is easy to do.

  7. Someone read this & tell me if people haven’t been drinking a little too much cool-aid with their coffee.

    Yes Ron, There is a Fast Casual
    Former Panera CEO says the segment isn’t real, but QSR’s columnist disagrees.

    Last October, I attended an industry conference and saw Panera’s founder Ron Shaich moderate a panel of great industry leaders. Those of you who follow me on Twitter know I also had the chance to ask Ron a question about the development and future of the fast-casual industry. Ron answered by noting that there was no such thing as fast casual and that no consumer says, “I am going to go to a fast-casual restaurant.” Needless to say, this caused quite a buzz amongst those of us in the segment, and there has been a bit of a debate going on since then.

    Early this month, NBC will premiere a new reality show called “America’s Next Great Restaurant.” Although I will admit that I have shown people clips from “Hell’s Kitchen” to demonstrate how to not treat your employees and coworkers, I generally stay away from reality TV. However, this new show has a panel of judges including Bobby Flay and Steve Ells, founder of Chipotle, who will actually invest in a chain based on the winner’s concept. According to reports Ells made some interesting comments on the fast-casual segment at a January press event for NBC:

    “There’s a food revolution going on in this country,” Ells told press at the Television Critics Association press tour. “People are really concerned about what they’re eating. This notion of a fast-casual restaurant is different from fast food. … Fast casual brings real food and real cooking and adds convenience.”

    Consumers may not know the name of the segment, but they are choosing what it offers.With more than 1,000 locations each, Panera and Chipotle are without a doubt the titans of the segment and two of the hottest publicly owned companies in the restaurant industry, but Ells and Shaich’s quotes seem to be at odds. While I represent a company tiny in comparison, I have no problem refereeing this exchange of opinions between the two great innovators.

    To be blunt, both Ells and Shaich are correct, although Ells hits on what makes his concept and fast casuals in general special. Along with many of my colleagues, I believe that segment categories really just have meaning to those of us in the industry. Consumers only really use these terms when referring to the top and the bottom of the segment pyramid. They may choose fine dining to refer to something special or quick service to refer to something quick and inexpensive, but I doubt any diners use the segment titles for any other segment. As a reuslt, Shaich scores some points.

    When given the chance to group restaurants using phrases like “similar to restaurant X or restaurant Y,” however, consumers clearly understand what the categories are. All the data and surveys I have seen show this is especially true in fast casual. Fast casual has survived and thrived during the recession. Chipotle’s tagline “food with integrity” sums up the best fast-casual operator’s mindset and the passion many people increasingly have for their restaurants.

    Consumers love the thought and effort that chains like Chipotle put into both their food and the way they do things. They also appreciate the simplicity of the food and the absence of artificial ingredients and preservatives. Basically, segment leaders in fast casual don’t serve @#$%. You only need water, salt, flour, and yeast to make great bread and just a few spices to cook a great turkey or roast beef.

    I decided to test out what I have read in previous surveys in the real world. Panera and Chipotle made this easy for me since they have locations next door to each other in Nashville. I put on my reporter’s cap and asked people at each location (and at Bread & Company) why they decided to eat at that location. Every one of the approximately 30 people I asked mentioned the quality of the food or the overall experience compared to where they might have gone otherwise.

    Some also mentioned the speed and expense compared to higher-end table-service restaurants they might have gone to. A number of the Chipotle customers also mentioned the company’s commitment to sustainability in terms of food and the environment. Of course, my methods were far from scientific, but the results demonstrate that the offerings of fast casuals do resonate with consumers.

    In conclusion, yes, Ron (Shaich), there is a fast casual. Consumers may not know the name of the segment, but they are choosing what it offers. Furthermore, they are doing it at not just the 2,000-plus Panera and Chipotle locations, but at hundreds or thousands of other fast-casual restaurants.

  8. Shopping Center Business

    Feature Article, February 2011
    Tracking The Consumer — Five Trends For 2011
    Recasting the shopping experience by developing a unique brand for the shopping center apart from its tenants.
    Marsha Getto-Aikens

    With the economy sputtering into 2011, retailers and retail developers are becoming more sensitive to the demands of the consumer while simultaneously trying to fill vacant retail space and meet the needs of their existing tenants. According to the latest Census Bureau statistics, the prototypical consumer has become much more discerning in how they spend their hard-earned dollars as well as where they spend their increasingly scarce time and money.

    Today, nearly three of every four dollars are earned by the top 40 percent of households. However, between 2008 and 2009, there was a 5.2 percent drop in households earning more than $100,000. Considering that this group accounts for 38.5 percent of total consumer spending, this means that these consumers are becoming more selective with their spending habits.

    Based on the above statistics, it is obvious that the consumer is moving to mindful consumption. As a result of this “spend shift” that was recently called out in the October 2010 issue of Advertising Age, shopping center developers are on notice to rethink their current assumptions about what will attract consumers and then get them to open their wallets. Gensler has identified five national trends that are especially relevant to consumer behavior in 2011. Together, the trends suggest ways to recast the shopping experience on developing a unique brand for the shopping center and marketing it apart from, or sometimes in tandem with, their tenants. Here are five such trends that Gensler is seeing for 2011.

    The Demise of Kiosks and The Rise of Pop-up Stores

    While popular in the past, retail carts have lost the allure they once had. While they represent short-term profit centers for the shopping center developers, from an aesthetic perspective, the carts block the clean lines of sight in mall aisles and wings. The long-term effects on the consumer are the perceptions of a “cluttered” look and disorganized feel when walking around an otherwise well-designed shopping environment, making the shopping experience less desirable. Conversely, the pop-up concept, which involves 3- to 6-month leases, allows consumers to continue in the natural “flow” of the mall while allowing the shopping center managers to fill otherwise vacant space.

    Retailers and consumers alike are no strangers to holiday pop-up stores, as Halloween Spirit and Toys “R” Us Express stores have appeared in malls for years now. However, short-term tenants are increasingly non-holiday retailers who generate significant revenue and traffic for landlords during the spring and summer.

    Short Hill Malls in New Jersey has been host to temporary storefronts from both La Maison du Chocolat, a Paris-based chocolatier, and Continental Airlines. While La Maison featured its chocolate and confectionary goods, Continental Airlines temporary lounge allowed its club members to check in, shop and have their purchases wrapped before going to nearby Newark Liberty International Airport to catch a flight.

    We expect to see more of these pop-up stores, both in shopping centers and on street fronts, take hold in the coming year.

    Engagement of Online Influencers

    As the rise of social media has altered retail marketing, shopping center developers have also embraced new, innovative social marketing efforts. Engaging social-ites, as they are known, is a growing trend, with mommy bloggers being a particular target community. Social-ites are all about discovery as consumers become curators — actively broadcasting, remixing, compiling, commenting, sharing and recommending content, products, purchases and experiences to both their friends and even wider audiences.

    A good practitioner of engaging these social-ites is NorthPark Mall in Dallas. NorthPark’s marketing team recently gave a mall-wide tour to a number of local, prominent “mommy bloggers” from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. They took them into shops, gave them samples of the purveyors’ goods and introduced them to store managers and staff. The goal was to give deeper access and new insight into what was, for these women, an already familiar destination in the hope that they would talk about their unique NorthPark experience to their spheres of influence, both online and through word of mouth.

    Eco-Marketing of Retail Spaces

    Eco-marketing these days is not limited to retailers’ individual efforts and recycling bins in public spaces. Marketing managers for these retail spaces are highlighting the construction materials, renovations and eco-footprint of their shopping centers to gain an edge in attracting an ever-growing segment of consumers concerned not only with buying eco-friendly products but the environment in which they buy their goods.

    Abercorn Common, located in Savannah, Georgia, was the first all-retail shopping center in the United States to become LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certified through the U.S. Green Building Council. Its marketing, branding and community outreach is infused with facts and figures about their environmentally conscious building, including a rainwater cistern, highly reflective white roofs, energy savings of up to 30 percent for tenants, and organic and recycled building materials. For centers such as Abercorn Common, eco-marketing has established goodwill within the community and given the development a unique brand statement among local consumers looking for differentiators in the marketplace.

    Creative Alternatives for Mothers with Young Children

    More malls are providing an area of respite for mothers with young children besides the usual bench seat or the brief stop in the local toy store. Recently, the development of full-sized, indoor play areas for younger children, along with comfortable seating for their mothers, is becoming more common. In Fairfield County, Connecticut, Westfield Trumbull recently unveiled an upgraded, eco-friendly play area as a part of its renovation of the 1.2 million-square-foot, super-regional shopping center.

    “The play area consists of sturdy bright structures made of eco-friendly materials depicting rainforest wildlife and landscapes,” says Lee Sterling, regional director of marketing for Westfield. “The idea is to make this entire section of the mall very friendly for parents who have infants and toddlers in tow.” The result is a mini-community center where moms and children come to gather even in the absence of an explicit shopping destination.

    Partnering with Local Causes

    In addition to indoor play areas for children, a number of mall developments are engaging other parts of the local community in hopes that people will go to the mall for something other than shopping. Dallas’ NorthPark Mall features art installations by locally and nationally renowned sculptors and artists, exhibits high-end car salons, hosts film screenings by the Dallas Film Institute and even dedicates retail space for the Dallas Public Library, which is filled solely with children’s books and interactive workstations.

    This purposeful inclusion, and hosting of local community events and entities, has endeared the mall to Dallas residents; and NorthPark Mall has been successful in their broader goal of distinctly branding the mall apart from the tenants that reside in it.

    The reality is that consumers are sorting through and rewarding those shopping centers that anticipate and meet their discerning needs. Retailers and retail developments that can fulfill or complement the role of the local community, while engaging in meaningful relationships with influencers and staying abreast of the eco-marketing trends, will fare much better in attracting and maintaining consumer spending.

    Furthermore, we believe that the shopping center’s unique brand is more important than ever and must be tailored to anticipate, embrace and incorporate these trends. Shopping centers cannot survive by looking and feeling the same way they did 5 years ago. Developers and retailers must rethink their brand positioning not only in their marketing efforts, but also in the physical design and overall aesthetic of the shopping center. For shopping centers that can successfully integrate these trends, the result will be loyal consumers who spend more time and money there as well as higher demand for retail space in an economic environment where vacancies are all too common.

    Marsha Getto-Aikens is the lifestyle studio director for Gensler, a global architecture, design, planning and consulting firm.

  9. Crazy 8 is coming to square one in Saugus and Rack Room Shoes and Ulta is coming to Northshore in Peabody

  10. Yogurtland RULES! I hope they do expand and are able to become something of institution like Baskin Robbins.

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