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CSA First Look: H&M Goes Big in NYC

BY CSA STAFF

H&M’s new Fifth Avenue flagship in Manhattan is the fast-fashion giant’s largest store in the world, a whopping 57,000 sq. ft. Beyond its sheer size, the store breaks new ground for the Swedish retailer in a number of other ways. Here are five big ones:

1. The product assortment: It’s the first H&M in the United States to carry all the retailer’s product lines under one roof. Along with the brand’s signature trendy women’s and men’s threads, the line-up includes maternity, newborn, special sizes and cosmetics. There are also fully-realized childrenswear and home goods departments, and in-shop stores for accessories, footwear and lingerie.

2. The overlook look: Befitting the Fifth Avenue locale, this is the brand’s most upscale and fully realized store to date, with green and white marble tiles, herringbone woodwork, chandeliers, leather furniture, tufted-fabric walls in the fitting rooms and mannequin groupings. On the main floor, mannequins are arranged in a gallery setting, on a tiered staircase display, echoing a fashion runway.

3. The openness: With its all-glass façade, the huge store has an open feel. A soaring four-story atrium is set off with a 26-ft. by 20-ft. LED screen.

4. Free concierge shopping service: In a first for H&M, a personal-shopper service is available on a appointment basis — and at no charge.

5. It won’t be the biggest H&M for very long: The brand plans to debut an even larger outpost, a 63,000-sq.-ft. location in Manhattan’s bustling Herald Square, later this fall.


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RILA president addresses West Coast ports stalemate

BY CSA STAFF

Sandy Kennedy, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), has offered her two cents on the standoff surrounding the union negotiations at the West Coast ports.

Kennedy addressed a letter to the heads of the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), speaking on behalf of retailers who are experiencing uncertainty and instability over the ongoing conflict.

“Without a finalized contract, the chief concern of a possible repeat of the 2002 shutdown remains,” she wrote. “Retailers continue to exercise contingency plans throughout their massive supply chain operations despite the fact the West Coast negotiations have not reached an impasse. While goods continue to move at an efficient rate through the West Coast ports of entry, each day without a finalized agreement jeopardizes the movement of goods destined for shelves during the all-important Holiday season.”

The organizations have been struggling over negotiations for the past couple of months since their six-year agreement expired.

Though goods are being moved at the ports, many in the retail community fear a repeat of the 2002 stalemate, during which the American economy lost nearly $1 billion per day. Without a contract, a strike remains a possibility.

A poll of industry readers conducted by sister site HCN found that the majority — 38% — are watching the conflict "somewhat closely," as their businesses have other options in a worst-case scenario. Several (36%) said they wouldn't be affected by a strike, and a good deal (27%) are waiting with baited breath, fearing the fallout from a disruption in the supply chain.

“It is our hope that both sides are engaged in open and honest discussions, moving with haste toward a long-term solution that will stabilize the labor picture on the West Coast," added Kennedy. "Securing an agreement is of paramount importance to the retail industry."

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NPD Group finds that men increasingly embrace fashion in footwear

BY CSA STAFF

Necessity is the predominant motivation behind shoe purchasing for men, and their brand loyalty is strong and steady, according to Men’s Footwear Brand Focus Study 2014, the latest report from global information provider, The NPD Group.

This attitude, however, shows signs of evolving, given that men are increasingly embracing fashion and newness in their footwear.

The U.S. men’s footwear market grew 8% during the course of the past two years, which is twice the growth rate of women’s footwear during the same period, according to the NPD Group’s Consumer Tracking Service.

“While two-thirds of men say they shop for replacement shoes only, much of the success that the men’s market has experienced over the past couple of years is due to the fact that men are becoming more interested in style and trends,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group. “This is apparent by the growth of items such as fashion boots, drivers, sneakers, and oxfords in various new materials and colors, which correlates with the growth of the men’s apparel and accessories markets. As men expand their wardrobes, they will need the right shoes to match. Altogether, this uptick in men’s fashion will likely translate to an increase in footwear purchase frequency.”

Compared to women’s footwear, the men’s brand landscape has remained consistent in the past two years, according to the NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service, illustrating that men place greater emphasis on brand and are less likely to try new ones. Men are more likely to say that they are “willing to spend more money for a brand name they trust” than “willing to try new or lesser-known footwear brands,” demonstrating their commitment to brand over price. In addition, the same brands that comprise the top five list for overall awareness are also the top five brands for ownership.

While men are clear in their athletic footwear preferences, their list of casual/dress favorites is more fragmented. Nonetheless, men recognize Nike and Skechers as both athletic and casual/dress brands, and they are the only brands to make the top 10 for both lists.

“When it comes to footwear purchases, men typically turn to the brands they already own and trust, but casual footwear is a place where they are willing to experiment with brands,” said Cohen. “As style and uniqueness join the list of comfort and quality as important deciding factors, this presents an opportunity for new and lesser-known brands to penetrate the men’s footwear market, especially within the casual/dress category. Ultimately, men will not only try new styles from their current favorite brands, but will also be more willing to give newcomers or lesser-known brands a chance.”

An online survey was fielded in April 2014 to members of NPD’s online panel. The survey was completed by more than 2,000 males ages 16 and older living in the U.S. Total returns from the nationally representative sample of males ages 16 and older were weighted to reflect census targets for key demographics.

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