ENERGY/HVAC

Home furnishings giant prepares for another solar project

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Ikea’s next solar-powered store is in the works.

The home furnishings giant’s future Jacksonville, Florida store, slated to open in the fall, will be the newest location to feature a solar power system. Panel installation will begin this summer, and is expected to be complete by early fall. This will be Ikea’s fifth solar array in the state of Florida, according to the retailer.

The Jacksonville store’s 251,206-sq.-ft. solar array will consist of a 1.89 MW system, built with 5,472 panels. It will produce approximately 2,753,070 kWh of electricity annually for the store, the equivalent of reducing 2,133 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

REC Solar is developing, designing and installing the new store’s solar power system. Marcobay Construction is building the store.

“We are excited about furthering our sustainability commitment and contributing to a low-carbon society with solar atop our future Jacksonville store,” said Lars Petersson, Ikea U.S. president. “We have a mission to create a better everyday life for the many, and Ikea Jacksonville can add to this goal and keep us Florida’s largest non-utility private solar owner.”

This installation will represent the 49th solar project for Ikea in the United States, giving the retailer solar presence atop nearly 90% of its U.S. stores. Consistent with the goal of being energy independent by 2020, the chain has installed more than 700,000 solar panels on buildings across the world, and owns approximately 300 wind turbines, including 104 in the United States.

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News

Study: Father’s Day spending headed for record high

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Americans are expected to spend more than ever on gifts for Father’s Day this year — proof that consumer confidence is growing.

This was according to a study from the National Retail Federation. The report, conducted by Prosper Insight & Analytics, is based on responses from 7,335 consumers surveyed between May 2 and May 9.

Father’s Day shoppers are expected to spend an average $134.75 for the holiday, up from last year’s $125.92. With 77% of surveyed consumers celebrating, total spending is expected to reach $15.5 billion. That’s the highest number in the study’s 15-year history, topping last year’s previous record of $14.3 billion.

“It’s encouraging to see that consumers are spending on special occasions such as Father’s Day,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “This is a positive sign of strong consumer confidence heading into the second half of the year, and a good deal for all the dads who will reap the benefits.”

With 27% of dads hoping to receive a “gift of experience” for Father’s Day, the biggest share of holiday spending is going to special outings. In fact, 25% of shoppers plan to grant their father’s wish, and will be surprising their dads with gifts like tickets to a concert or a sporting event, according to the report.

Next up on the spending list is $2.2 billion that will be spent on gift cards (given by 43%), followed by $2.2 billion on clothing (46%) and $1.8 billion on consumer electronics (21%). Personal care products such as a bottle of cologne (21%) total $888 million, slightly edging out home improvement supplies (16%) at $885 million. Greeting cards are the most common gift, purchased by 64% of consumers, but this only accounts for $861 million of projected spending.

“With shoppers planning to be more generous to dad this year, the personal care category will be one to watch,” Prosper principal analyst Pam Goodfellow said. “Planned spending on items like cologne, aftershave and razors rose nearly 20% year-over-year, outpacing growth in every other gift category for Father’s Day.”

When searching for the perfect gift, 40% of consumers will head to department stores, 34% will shop online, 26% will shop at a discount store, 24% at a specialty store, and 19% at a local small business. Among smartphone owners, 33% will use them to research gift ideas but only 18% will use them to make a purchase. Tablets are used slightly less frequently to research (32%), but slightly more frequently to buy (19%).

More than half of those surveyed plan to buy for their fathers or stepfathers (54%), while others will shop for their husbands (29%) or sons (10%), the report said.

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DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION

H&M firms up plans for Arket brand

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

As H&M braces for the opening of its first Arket store, it is already putting a plan in motion for its second location.

The fast-fashion chain announced in March that is plans to launch its new brand, Arket, in early fall. Arket, H&M’s first new brand in three years, will feature merchandise men, women and children, and a smaller, curated assortment of home goods.

The chain announced that the first Arket, which is Swedish for “sheet of paper,” will initially open its first store in London, and online in 18 European markets. However, the company announced that a second London location is also now in the works, according to The Retail Gazette.

H&M still plans to introduce Arket in Copenhagen, Brussels and Munich, the report added.

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