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Ethnic consumers represent strong potential

BY Staff Writer

New York – Ethnic consumers represent strong potential for retailers, according to new data released by the Nielsen Company. For example, the 43 million African-Americans in the U.S. (about 14% of the population) buy more hand and body lotion products than the average consumer.

And the nation’s 52 million Latinos (close to 20% of the population) are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population and will have $1.5 trillion in purchasing power by 2015. These groups are also much younger than the general U.S. population (54% of African-Americans and 75% of Latinos are under the age of 35).

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Blue Nile appoints board member

BY Staff Writer

Seattle — Online jewelry retailer Blue Nile has appointed Mindy Meads to its board of directors. Meads previously served as co-CEO of Aeropostale and president and CEO of Victoria’s Secret, among other executive posts in a 35-year apparel retail career. She also serves on the board of Wet Seal.

“We are very excited Mindy is joining our board of directors," said Harvey Kanter, Blue Nile president and CEO. "Mindy has played a key role in the success of some of the world’s most well-known retail brands, and her proven leadership and experience will be instrumental as we continue to build our global brand.”

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ULI Report: Gen Y shoppers still flocking to stores

BY Marianne Wilson

San Diego — Despite being the most tech-savvy generation in history, Generation Y, the 80-million strong cohort of Americans between the ages of 18 and 35, has not forsaken shopping in stores for online purchasing – as long as retailers keep their offerings "fresh" and interesting, according to a new report from the Urban Land Institute (ULI).

The report, Generation Y: Shopping and Entertainment in the Digital Age, found that 37% of Gen Yers love shopping and 48% enjoy it. Half of the men surveyed and 70% of the women consider shopping a form of entertainment and something to share with friends and family. The appeal of shopping is particularly strong among Gen Yers who are Hispanic and African American.

Gen Yers tend to spread their dollars around generously, the study found, with more than half visiting a variety of retail centers at least once a month, including discount department stores (the retail type most frequently visited by Gen Y), community shopping centers, enclosed malls, department stores, big-box power centers, chain apparel stores, and neighborhood business districts.

At the same time, 91% of respondents said that they had made online purchases over the previous six months, with 45% spending more than an hour a day looking at retail-oriented websites.

"Contrary to what some retailers have feared, we found that Gen Y still does most of its purchasing in stores," said Lachman, president of real estate consulting firm Lachman Associates LLC and executive-in-residence at Columbia University’s Graduate Business School. "Gen Yers use the Internet to research products, compare prices, envision how clothing or accessories might look on them, or respond to flash sales or coupon offers, as well as to purchase items; they are definitely multi-channel shoppers."

The findings from the survey have numerous implications for today’s retail property owners, developers and managers, including the following:

  • Restaurants at all price points are popular with Gen Y, but owners should be careful of providing tenants with generous improvement allowances to attract them. Young consumers tend to move from one "hot spot" to another; vacancies can result when a hot trend turns cold.
  • Enclosed malls remain popular, but can face challenges to retain their appeal among fickle consumers. To keep shoppers visiting, mall owners should refresh interiors frequently, encourage social gatherings, incorporate movie theaters and renovate obsolete ones, add specialty food purveyors and grocery stores, serve as pick-up points for merchandise ordered online, and encourage pop-up stores.
  • Malls are big contributors to the chronic inventory of excess retail space in the U.S.; many are ripe for redevelopment. Smaller formats are more suitable for time-conscious shoppers, many of whom may just be looking at goods that they will ultimately buy online.
  • Gen Y strongly supports discount department stores and warehouse clubs – a format that could supplant aging malls and be suitable for infill sites. In contrast, power centers with single-focus "big-box" stores are losing out to both warehouse clubs and online aggregators such as Amazon.
  • Most lifestyle centers target older, affluent shoppers; to attract Gen Y, owners should focus on apparel brands favored by Gen Y, offer more choice in eateries and include specialties such as a gym, salon, "green" grocer, bike shop, pet store and/or dog run, and uniquely local offerings.

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