REAL ESTATE

Hhgregg to occupy former Linens space in central Illinois

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Champaign, Ill. — Electronics and appliances retailer Hhgregg is taking a 35,000-sq.-ft. space left vacant by defunct Linens ‘N Things, at Champaign Town Center in Champaign, Ill.

Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores will open a 17,820-sq.-ft. store in the same shopping center. Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based Mid-America Asset Management made the announcements.

Both stores are estimated to open in spring 2012, and will be adjacent tenants.

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FINANCE

Customer Growth Partners predicts robust spending in 2012

BY Marianne Wilson

New Canaan, Conn. — Retail sales will increase by 5.7% in 2012, according to a new report by Customer Growth Partners, a consulting and research firm serving retailers, vendors and institutional investors.

The report, “The Great Consumer Reset/The Great Retail Reset,” finds that falling household and credit-debt levels, along with higher savings rates, are fueling consumer spending.

“After sharply ratcheting down expenditures in 2008-09, consumers have indeed resumed spending, amazingly enough, at about the same 5% year-over-year growth rate seen prior to the recession,” said Craig Johnson, president, Customer Growth Partners. “In short, American consumers have now completed a historic ‘reset’, fueling the strongest retail rebound seen in decades.”

Similarly, retailers have had their own “reset,” according to the report. It notes that beginning in the mid -2000’s, after decades of overexpansion, retailers sharply curtailed store development plans, closed rafts of underperforming stores, cut overhead and staff costs, and redirected growth strategies more online.

“Merchants that did bite the bullet during the recession have found that their prudent pruning has been rewarded with new growth — and sharply higher store productivity,” Johnson said.

To read the report, click here.

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REAL ESTATE

Report: J.C. Penney drops plans for downtown Seattle store

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — J.C. Penney has dropped its plans to open a store in the Kress Building downtown Seattle, according to The Seattle Times.

The chain signed a lease last May for two-thirds of the building, but the space is now being shopped around for sublease, the report said.

"This had nothing to do with Seattle or the location. The timing just did not match up with their new CEO," Seattle Pacific Realty broker Elizabeth Best, who is representing J.C. Penney in its search for a sublease tenant, said in the report.

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