REAL ESTATE

Horizon to develop outlet center in East Hartford, Conn.

BY Michael Fickes

East Harford, Conn. — Horizon Group Properties has announced an agreement to develop a new outlet center in East Hartford, Conn. The 350,000-sq.-ft. Outlet Shoppes at Rentschler Field is scheduled to open in the summer of 2016. Rentschler Field is a historic airstrip located near downtown Hartford.

The Hartford metropolitan area has 2.2 million residents and an average annual household income above the national average. No outlet shopping centers currently serve the market.

Estimates project that the center will generate more than $130 million in sales, $1.2 million in property taxes and $8.2 million in sales taxes per year.

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Amazon Prime just got a little more expensive

BY CSA STAFF

It’s official. Amazon is raising the membership fee for Prime and Student Prime customers.

The company sent out emails today to Prime and Student Prime consumers letting them know of the new fees. Prime customers will be paying an annual rate of $99 whenever their membership renews — that’s up from $79 per year.

Student Prime consumers will pay $49 a year, up from $39. Students with questions about renewal rates should click here for details.

Amazon has also posted an announcement in its Help & Customer Service page, which also includes links for people who wish to make changes to their membership, including canceling it.

The company pointed out in the emails that went out and on the website that it is the first time it is increasing the price of Prime and Student Prime since introducing the membership program nine years ago.

“Even as fuel and transportation costs have increased, the price of Prime has remained the same for nine years. Since 2005, the number of items eligible for unlimited free two-day shipping has grown from one million to more than 20 million,” the email read.

Current members will still receive all the benefits of Amazon Prime, the company said in its announcement, including unlimited free two-day shipping for eligible purchases, unlimited streaming with Prime Instant Video and the ability to borrow books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

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A Q4 exception to the rule, Steinmart ready to grow

BY CSA STAFF

Not many retailers can say they were very pleased with exceptional results during a compressed holiday season and challenging fourth quarter, but Steinmart did.

Same-store sales increased 3.1% for the fourth quarter ended Feb. 1, while total sales for the 13-week period declined to $360.8 million from $368.6 million because the fourth quarter the prior year included an extra week, which added sales of $15.8 million to the prior-year period.

Same-store sales for the year increased 3.7% while total sales for the 52-week period totaled $1.26 billion compared to $1.23 billion for the 53 week prior year period.

"I am very pleased with our exceptional results this year. We improved our business in 2013 through a number of key initiatives, including enhancing our merchandise and brands, launching our online store, more effective marketing, taking our supply chain distribution centers in-house and growing our credit card program," said Steinmart CEO Jay Stein. "For 2014, we will continue to build upon these achievements, while initiating our most aggressive store opening plan in more than ten years with 16 new and relocated stores, to even better serve our customers and grow returns for our investors."

Steinmart ended last year with 264 locations, one more than the prior year, as four new store openings were offset by three closures. Four stores were relocated last year.

To fund this year’s growth, capital expenditures are expected to total approximately $38 million, including $13 million for information systems, $13 million for existing stores and $12 million for new and relocated stores, according to the company. That is roughly in line with last year’s capital expenditures of $37.5 million which was down considerably from 2012 when the company spent $45.4 million and invested in a new merchandise information system.

Fourth-quarter profits on an adjusted basis to account several non-recurring expenses and the extra week in the prior year reporting period increased to $13.1 million, or 29 cents a share, compared to $12.3 million, or 28 cents a share. Full year adjusted net income was $32.8 million or 73 cents a share, compared to $22.9 million or 52 cents a share.

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