Day three underway at SPECS 2010
Orlando, Fla. The third day of Chain Store Age’s 46th annual SPECS (store planning, equipment, construction services) conference kicked off in Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday with a high-energy, entertaining keynote address from economist Mark Zinder, who discussed the economic climate and how to adjust to the “new normal.”
Attendees then hit the morning sessions to learn more about 3-D scanning (the future of accurate building surveys); parking lots (successful life-cycle management); foodservice financing; and how retailers can go green.
A store planning and design panel also met to discuss creative planning trends and how to reduce capital, operating expense and shrink by optimizing square footage and the use of existing assets. Panelists included Tom Hilton, VP store design for Luxottica Retail; Karen Schottelkotte, senior VP store planning and design for Macy’s; Juan Romero, president and CEO of api(+); and moderator Scott Smith, senior VP of Interbrand Design Forum.
Retailers and retail suppliers then made their way to the conference’s Solution Center, where attendees networked among the array of exhibit booths.
A perfect storm for shoplifters
Retailers are fortunate the majority of customers are honest and choose to pay for the items they need and want. However, even the most well intentioned shoppers can succumb to the allure of theft when their moral compass is exposed to the polarizing forces of a recessionary economy and a retail environment where the perceived risk of apprehension is low due to thinly staffed stores. As a result, retail theft characterized as amateur or opportunistic is on the rise, according to 78% of retailers responding to a survey conducted by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). While amateur and opportunistic thieves are more active, all types of theft have increased, with 74% of retailers reporting seeing an increase of stolen items found in online marketplaces, and 65% reporting increased theft by organized groups.
A rebound awaits in key categories
Target is the beneficiary of a perceived quality gap relative to Walmart, and that typically helps it in head-to-head comparisons where such categories as apparel and home are concerned. Unfortunately, consumer decision-making is seldom so linear, and Target has a slew of other retailers against whom it must compete, and recent sales results suggest it has work to do. Target has reported weak (flat or declining) results for its apparel and home categories and did so again in February. However, such companies as TJX, Ross and Kohl’s, which appeal to the same value-oriented shoppers as Target, produced solid gains. TJX said its February same-store sales increased 10%, Ross produced an 11% increase and Kohl’s was up 3.7%. Also producing gains were such competitors as Nordstrom, Macy’s and JCPenney, which serve customers squarely in the crosshairs of Target’s “expect more, pay less” value proposition. Macy’s reported a better-than-expected increase of 3.7%, and Nordstrom topped analysts’ views with a 10.3% increase. JCPenney’s same-store sales rose 1.2%, which was also better than expected.