FINANCE

Brown Shoe to close 145 Famous Footwear stores, sell off some units

BY Katherine Boccaccio

St. Louis — Brown Shoe Co. said Monday that while profit rose dramatically in the third quarter thanks to a business unit divestiture, the retailer will cut several of its lines and close underperforming stores nationwide to shore up profitability.

On Monday, the parent of Famous Footwear said it will close between 70 and 75 Famous Footwear stores in fiscal 2011 and 2012, for a total of about 145 store closures. The company will also be closing all of its Brown Shoe Closet and F.X. LaSalle stores, and will exit several business units including all of its children’s wholesale and some women’s specialty and private brands.

The company reported net income of $33.7 million in the third quarter, up from $18.6 million a year earlier and meeting analysts’ expectations.

Total revenue dipped to $713.8 million from $716.1 million, widely missing Wall Street’s expected $779.1 million. Famous Footwear sales fell 1.3%. Overall same-store sales fell 0.4% after a strong 11% gain in the prior year.

In an effort to offset reduced consumer spending, Brown Shoe had already closed some underperforming stores, a distribution center and divested its men’s basketball and lifestyle shoe brand And 1.

"While our efforts to date have been focused on eliminating underperforming or poorly aligned assets, this is not our sole focus," Diane Sullivan, president and CEO, said in a statement. "We are determined to expand our portfolio over the long-term and to deliver enhanced growth through our focus on the strategic consumer platforms of family, healthy living and contemporary fashion."

The company also said it has agreed to license its Buster Brown, Sam Edelman and Avia wholesale children’s brands to global footwear firm BBC International.

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Deloitte: Majority of consumers plan to shop in stores, online during Thanksgiving weekend

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK — Most consumers have their wallets ready for Thanksgiving weekend and are armed with plans to spend an average of $224, according to Deloitte’s pre-Thanksgiving shopping survey.

In its latest poll of 1,000 consumers, Deloitte found that 51% plan to shop in stores or online over the holiday weekend, with 17% planning to shop in stores on Thanksgiving Day and 66% planning to shop in stores on Black Friday. Among those planning to shop online, 26% said they plan to shop online on Thanksgiving, 50% said they plan to shop online on Black Friday and 41% said they plan to shop online on Cyber Monday.

Despite the number of consumers that plan to spend this holiday weekend, nearly 4-out-of-10 shoppers surveyed said they expect better deals will arise later this season, with 39% saying they will hold off spending because they anticipate better promotions. However, 22% said they were more likely to purchase earlier in the holiday season over concerns that merchandise may run out.

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OPERATIONS

ShopperTrak predicts Dec. 26 will be a ‘door-buster’ day

BY Marianne Wilson

Chicago — Up to 60% more shoppers will enter stores on Dec. 26 than on the same day last year, according to ShopperTrak, the world’s largest provider of retail and mall foot traffic counting services. The reason for the increase is due to the calendar: Shoppers will come out in full force on the day after Christmas because it falls on a Monday for the first time in six years. That day will rank third in foot traffic for the holiday shopping season, surpassed only by Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and Super Saturday, the Saturday one week before Christmas.

"Dec. 26 is a very important shopping day, as shoppers return unwanted gift items and shop for marked-down merchandise," said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak co-founder. "If retailers depend on last year’s shopper turnout and behavior as a guide for staffing and inventory plans, they will lose out on business this year. Dec. 26 is going to be a door-buster day."

According to ShopperTrak, each day of the week has a different traffic signature. Last year, Dec. 26 fell on a Sunday, a day that generally features abbreviated shopping hours, church service conflicts and even store closings tied to local "blue laws." This year, the important shopping day falls on a Monday — meaning regular shopping hours are available to consumers still on vacation and eager to leave the house on the day after the holiday.

"The last time Dec. 26 fell on a Monday was 2005," said Gary Dispensa, ShopperTrak senior economist. “We saw an increase in foot-traffic that day, due entirely to its position in the week "Using our historical data, unique econometric model and traffic counts from more than 25,000 locations across the country, we’re confident foot-traffic on Dec. 26 will greatly increase from what retailers saw last year — even with the recession."

Retailers should begin planning now to convert the shopper surplus they’ll see on Dec. 26 to sales, advised Martin.

"Scheduling more floor staff to minimize line abandonment, filling stock rooms with inventory and increasing store hours could make a big difference,” he said. “Don’t depend on last year’s experience. Only by monitoring same-store traffic can you ever really know what’s going to happen in the store and make smart decisions to capture sales."

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