MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

AAFES debuts new brand identity, new look

BY CSA STAFF

Dallas The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) debuted its new brand and store concept at its facility at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City.

Going forward, AAFES’ retail facilities will simply be called the Exchange, with the new identity also reflected in catalogs, exclusive brand packaging as well as revisions to the website that will be coming online over the next few months.

 

Brand and design consultant Chute Gerdeman Retail, project management firm Jones Lang LaSalle and multimedia consultant Mozaic collaborated with the Exchange to create the dramatic new brand identity.

“The reason the Exchange rebranded was simple — to communicate to their customers that they are here, ready with a new shopping experience, providing them with everything they need to outfit their unique military lifestyle,” said Brian Shafley, president of Chute Gerdeman Retail and design leader on the Exchange project.

The new store design combines lively colors and lifestyle imagery, bold shop design statements, shiny polished floors and a new way to navigate through the store. A new entryway, flanked with a Mall of Honor saluting the Tinker AFB community, signals the store’s transformation.

Inside the store, the customer service area has been relocated to the very front. Greeted with a large “Hello” on the wall, customers will find an all-new look for this area — bright and friendly, reinforcing the Exchange brand and mission.

“We took the best parts about the Exchange — like its people — and put them right at the front of the store, ready to serve any customer need,” Shafley said. “And we have made shopping more convenient by making the store design cleaner, friendlier, and more inspiring to shop.”

The entry zone introduces the customers to the store’s three key worlds: Home, Life and Style, each presenting collections of merchandise for every aspect of their military lifestyles. The unique V-aisle layout is designed to invite customers toward key lifestyle destinations in the rear corners of the store.

The new tagline, “You Save, We Give Back,” emphasizes the organization’s competitively low prices and mission to provide annual dividends to the Army’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation and Air Force Services programs. The Exchange gives back to the military community with every transaction and is a gathering place for its shoppers and their families.

Plans in the works to expand the new look and graphics throughout AAFES’s extensive network, which includes more than 3,100 facilities worldwide.

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Deloitte expects modest holiday sales growth

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK Deloitte said it expects modest increase in 2010 holiday sales, as slow economic growth keeps household spending plans in check.

Deloitte’s retail group expects total holiday sales to reach $852 billion, representing a 2% increase in November through January holiday sales, excluding motor vehicles and gasoline, over last season.  This growth rate represents a slight improvement over last year’s 1% gain. 

 

“Sustained weakness in the housing and employment markets continue to restrict consumer cash flow,” said Carl Steidtmann, Deloitte’s chief economist.

 

Steidtmann added, “Consumers discretionary funds have dwindled as households remain focused on reducing debt and increasing their savings, while banks continue to limit access to credit and stimulus checks have run out.  Should consumers receive good tidings later this season in the way of falling energy prices or additional stock market gains, they may be able to lend retailers a bit more holiday cheer.  However, given the unsteady pace of economic recovery, retailers should expect only a small uptick in holiday sales this year.”

 

Despite its conservative outlook, Deloitte is expecting some positive news this season.

 

“Non-store retailing, particularly e-commerce, is gearing up to be the bright spot in the holiday picture this year,” said Alison Paul, vice chairman and Deloitte’s retail sector leader in the United States, adding that Deloitte forecasts a 15% increase in non-store sales.  Nearly two-thirds of non-store sales are from the online channel, with the remainder coming from catalogs and interactive TV. 

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In retail survey news . . .

BY CSA STAFF

A new study from the professional services firm BDO shows that expectations among chief financial officers at the nation’s largest retailers call for challenging economic conditions to remain in place. One hundred CFOs at retailers with sales ranging from $100 million to $100 billion shared their views with BDO, and 82% said they expected to see a continuation of stagnant economic conditions; 9% said they expected a double dip recession and another 9% were looking for an ongoing turnaround.

Amajority (78%) of retail CFOs cited an ongoing economic turnaround as most dependent upon lower unemployment or consistent improvement in consumer confidence and spending. Don’t really need to be a CFO to know that employment and consumer confidence are key drivers of spending.

“Even with the slight improvements we’ve seen in recent consumer confidence numbers, the weak job market is darkening consumer’s long-term outlook. Retailers simply cannot answer the question ‘What will improve the job market in the United States?'” said Al Ferrara, National Director of BDO’s retail and consumer product practice. “An unemployment rate of 9.6% shows that a pint size recovery persists. In addition, the back-to-school season proved that offering deep discounts and value-oriented items remains critical.” The survey was conducted on behalf of BDO by Market Measurement Inc. whose interviewers spoke directly to CFOs.

 

Financial firm CIT Group is also out with a survey, theirs looks more closely at mid-sized retailers, and respondents are cautiously optimistic about spending during the holiday and the next 12 months. According to CIT, 65% of the retailers and 69% of the suppliers surveyed said they expect spending to return to 2007 levels by the end of 2011.

 

“While the majority of retailers are cautiously optimistic about their future, more than two-thirds expect revenues to grow over the next 12 months,” said Burt Feinberg, managing director and industry group head of retail finance at CIT. “The general consensus is that, having weathered the economic downturn, most retailers are in better shape today than in 2009 and have positioned themselves well to meet future consumer demand when it returns.”

The report is based on the results of two surveys and a series of one-on-one interviews conducted by Forbes Insights in July and August. In the first survey, 111 executives and financial decision makers at middle market retailers were surveyed. All companies had revenues of $25 million to $1 billion. Respondents represented a broad range of retail segments including specialty apparel, consumer electronics, appliances, sporting goods, convenience stores, housewares and discount chains. In the second survey, an additional 150 executives and financial decision makers at suppliers to the middle market retail sector were surveyed.

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