REAL ESTATE

Barnes & Noble testing in-store interactive play spaces

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — A report released Thursday said that Barnes & Noble has launched a test of store-in-store toy boutiques at a few select locations, in order to boost sales and fill shelf space.

According to a report by Reuters, the retailer has opened five 3,000-sq.-ft. play areas over the last week, featuring educational toys and games.

The five stores, open on a trial basis, are located in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Barnes & Noble has said it will open more if the boutiques prove successful during the upcoming holiday season. The retailer is also broadening its array of items at its children’s department at 500 stores for the 2010 holiday season.

"It could be huge for us," William Lynch, CEO, said in the report.

But the company, which operates about 720 stores, has said it has no plans to significantly reduce its store count and instead intends to repurpose much of its floor space these children’s toy areas and for demonstrations of its Nook e-readers.

Barnes & Noble put itself up for sale in August and in September fended off a proxy fight waged by dissident investor Ron Burkle.

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ECOMMERCE

Kmart offers in-store pickup for online purchases

BY CSA STAFF

Hoffman Estates, Ill. — Sears Holdings Corp. said Thursday that its Kmart division has launched an in-store pickup program for online purchases this holiday season.

Kmart customers who buy items online can pick up their purchases on the same day at more than 600 locations. Customers can now buy items through the Kmart2go mobile website or smartphone applications and select in-store pickup. The apps also can be used in-store for product information.

The company said it is able to offer same-day pickup through its newly expanded mygofer service, an Internet company that works with retailers. It is also owned by Sears.

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OPERATIONS

Kronos Index: Holiday hiring lagging behind last year

BY CSA STAFF

Chelmsford, Mass. — A report released by workforce management solution-provider Kronos found that holiday hiring levels are lagging behind 2009 numbers.

According to the Kronos Retail Labor Index, which analyzes demand and supply sides of the labor market within the U.S. retail sector, the index decreased in October to 3%, down 16% from the September 2010 level of 3.6%. (A level of 3% means that for every 100 applications received, three hirings occurred).

The retailers representing 27,034 distributed locations across the United States that make up the Kronos data sample recorded 31,569 hirings (on a seasonally adjusted basis) in October 2010, a decrease of 16.7% from the September 2010 seasonally adjusted figure of 37,900 and a 34% decrease from the 47,906 hirings that occurred in October 2009.

The supply of applications was down just slightly from 1,059,617 in September to 1,052,765 in October. This number is down significantly from October 2009 when 1,443,725 applications were processed.

Employee retention decreased slightly in October 2010 as compared with September 2010. The percentage of employees remaining on the job 60 days or more was 82.7%, a decrease of 1.8% from September 2010.

"This month’s Index indicates that retailers are not anticipating that they will need as many workers as last year to staff the holiday season,” said Dr. Robert Yerex, chief economist, Kronos. “According to our numbers, holiday hiring appears to be on a trajectory that will bring it in at a level 19.3% below last year’s and 44.5% below the peak holiday season hiring year of 2006. The early figures on holiday hiring translate to a 13.4% reduction in retailers’ expectations of holiday sales as compared to 2009."

The Kronos Retail Labor Index is released on a monthly basis.

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