REAL ESTATE

Kohl’s opens 12 stores, with nine built to LEED Gold standards

BY Marianne Wilson

Menomonee Falls, Wis. — Kohl’s Department Stores announced the grand opening of 12 stores, creating approximately 1,500 jobs nationwide. The company now operates 1,146 stores in 49 states.

The company is celebrating the grand opening of 12 stores in 10 states, including Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington. Of the 12 new locations, 11 are small format stores with approximately 64,000 sq. ft. or less of retail space.

Nine of the new stores opening this week were built according to a prototype that received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification at the Gold level from the U.S. Green Building Council. Characteristics of stores built to LEED guidelines, which provide best practices for the design, construction and operation for high-performance green buildings. Green characteristics of all stores opening this week include waste management to recycle construction materials, occupancy sensor lighting for stockrooms, dressing rooms, break rooms and offices, energy management systems to control heating and cooling and a recycling program for cardboard boxes, hangers and packaging.

Kohl’s also continues to invest in its existing store base by remodeling approximately 50 stores this year. Over the last six years, more than half of Kohl’s store base has been remodeled or newly built.

Click here for photos.

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Christmas in September?

BY Jeff Green

Each year, since the “big recession,” retailers have been putting out their holiday decorations and starting their promotional sales as early as mid-October. It used to be that Black Friday was the kick-off that got everyone out to the stores in search of that must-have discounted gift for their loved ones. This year, however, the calendar barely hit September and I saw Christmas trees on display at my local Costco and retailers announcing their layaway program incentives.

Toys “R” Us seemed to be out ahead of their competitors this year when they announced they would be waiving the service fee and minimum purchase requirements for their layaway program (for anything put on layaway before Halloween). Walmart followed almost immediately with an announcement that they would be cutting their up-front service fee from $15 to $5, and, following suit just days later, Sears and Kmart announced they would be waiving holiday-season layaway fees altogether (until Nov. 17). While the specific terms of each of these layaway promotions vary, the mere fact that they have been announced — and announced so early on — is, to me, an indication that retailers will once again be aggressive in their efforts to win the limited dollars of consumers this season. And, it shows they are proactively trying to spur brick and mortar sales as soon as possible, extending what has long been the “traditional” holiday shopping season.

While the retail economy is nothing like it was a few years ago — sales have been quite good since July, and back-to-school numbers were particularly strong — it is far from robust. It would seem likely that these layaway programs will spur some additional sales from savvy, deal-hungry shoppers, but will it be enough? The administrative costs associated with layaway programs are actually quite large, and margins are pretty slim, so I’m not sure retailers will gain that much ground. However, I do think it could lead to a significant boost in brick-and-mortar sales, which in turn, has an impact on expansion plans for next year. Really though, I think that these early promotions are more about marketing and messaging than anything else — about getting the message out there that holiday shopping is here and “flipping the switch” in shoppers’ minds. If these announcements do nothing more than just get people thinking about their holiday shopping, then I think they have been successful. It worked on me: I’m already writing about holiday shopping!

What do you think? Are consumers likely to start their holiday shopping early because retailers are providing them with incentives? Will retailers see the results in sales and be bullish on their expansion plans? Have you started your holiday shopping yet?

Please make a public comment below or feel free to e-mail me privately at [email protected].


Click here for past columns by Jeff Green.

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Holiday sales to grow as much as 4%

BY CSA STAFF

Deloitte is forecasting holiday sales will increase between 3.5% and 4% as the economy’s health and the presidential election take center stage among consumers this fall.

Despite some distractions this year, retailers should expect a modest increase in 2012 holiday sales, according to Deloitte’s annual holiday forecast release Tuesday morning.

"Economic headwinds nagging consumers this fall include stubbornly high gasoline prices that continue to creep up and soft housing and job markets," said Carl Steidtmann, Deloitte’s chief economist. "While consumers turned out in the summer to give retailers solid gains for a few months, that pace may be difficult to sustain through the end of the year. Consumers and businesses alike may pause in advance of the election; however, retailers may benefit from a post-election consumer spending boost."

Deloitte’s retail and distribution practice expects total holiday sales to climb to between $920 and $925 billion, representing a 3.5% to 4% increase in November through January holiday sales when compared to last year. While that is a respectable increase, it is below last year’s growth rate of 5.9%.

Additionally, Deloitte forecasts a 15% to 17% percent increase in non-store sales, which is primarily attributable to ecommerce. Nearly three-quarters of non-store sales result from the online channel with additional sales coming from catalogs and interactive TV. 

"Non-store sales continue to outpace overall growth, but increasingly influence consumers’ experience with the retail store, from trip planning, to in-store product research, and post-purchase reviews and sharing," said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and retail & distribution sector leader. "This holiday season, retailers’ most lucrative customers may be the ones they engage across physical and virtual storefronts."

Paul noted that consumers might also consolidate or reduce trips to the store in response to higher gas prices. Conversely, she added, consumers are expected to keep a sharp eye on promotions and pricing, making retailers’ digital connections with consumers before and during each shopping trip even more critical this year.

"This year, we anticipate retailers will come to the starting gate with true omni-channel pricing strategies, as opposed to disparate or reactionary strategies of the past," said Paul. "Consumers should see more price transparency across mobile, online and store channels, and retailers will use these same channels to gain insights into their core customers’ behavior. Retailers that interpret and respond to real-time information about shoppers can hit the right notes on pricing and promotions that drive traffic without eroding margins."

Deloitte forecasts that mobile-influenced retail store sales will account for 5.1 percent, or $36 billion, in retail store sales this year as consumers increase store-related smartphone activity such as product research, price comparison or mobile application use.   

"Retailers that welcome the smartphone shopper in their stores with mobile applications and wi-fi access, rather than fear the showrooming effect, can be better positioned to accelerate their in-store sales this holiday season," said Paul.

The firm’s recent research shows shoppers armed with smartphones are 14% more likely to make a purchase in the store than those who do not use a smartphone as part of their in-store journey.

"The mobile channel is a powerful customer engagement tool, enabling retailers to capture a shopper’s attention at the point-of-purchase, while gleaning valuable information about shopper behavior regardless of the shopper’s location," Paul said.

 

 

 

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