FINANCE

Levin Management survey shows continued caution among retailers

BY Marianne Wilson

North Plainfield, N.J. — A cooler start to spring and mixed-bag of Memorial Day weekend weather in the Northeast may have contributed to less than expected year-to-date sales and traffic for some retailers, according to Levin Management’s annual mid-year Retail Sentiment Survey, which polled retailers in the firm’s 90-property, 12.5 million-square-foot shopping center portfolio.

“Coming off a positive year in 2012, retailers were predicting that 2013 would maintain a strong pace,” noted Matthew K. Harding, Levin Management’s president. “It looks like performance for many of our survey participants came in below expectations, and they have become more cautious in terms of expectations. The good news is nationwide retail performance has been steady, and with continued improvement in the economy and consumer confidence, retailer optimism is likely to increase in our region through the balance of the year.”

The pace of hiring during the first half of 2013 and the positive impact of e-commerce appear to be heating things up in time for summer. Year-to-date hiring among respondents to the Levin Management survey shows significant improvement over the past few mid-year surveys. Asked whether they have added staff so far in 2013, 33.3% of participants responded “yes.” This compares to 26.2% in the 2012 mid-year survey and 12.6% in the 2011 mid-year survey.

Looking ahead, 27.5% of the Levin respondents expect to add staff in the coming months, down from 36.1% in the 2012 mid-year survey. Plans to open new stores also dropped to 23.3% “yes” from 27.5% last year.

“As with sales expectations, ‘caution’ seems to be the mantra when it comes to hiring and expansion through the second half of 2013,” Harding noted. “Still, the improvement in year-to-date hiring percentages is excellent news – both within our sample poll and the national arena.”

In other survey findings:

  • The industry has embraced mobile marketing; 85.1% of respondents reported the use of technology (via mobile apps and social media) to attract customers;
  • 5.5% f participants reported that Internet sales are having a positive impact on their business (a jump from 26.8% last year);
  • 11.4% reported a negative impact (down slightly from 12.5% last year); and
  • 43.2% reported no impact (a significant drop from 60.6% last year).

“E-commerce will continue to gain traction,” Harding noted. “Yet stores initially bracing for a negative hit now appear to be increasingly positive about the impact of the Internet. We are seeing more and more retailers using ecommerce as a compliment to their physical stores – and vice versa. They are looking for ways to drive sales to both platforms."

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REAL ESTATE

CBL in partnership with Tesla Motors

BY Marianne Wilson

Chattanooga, Tenn. — CBL & Associates Properties announced the launch of a partnership with Tesla Motors to install Tesla Supercharging stations at several CBL Malls across the country. Tesla is building a network of stations that will eventually enable Tesla owners to drive coast to coast in their electric vehicles.

The initial cooperation will place Tesla Superchargers at five CBL Malls to include Gulf Coast Town Center in Fort Myers, FL; The Pavilion at Port Orange in Port Orange, Fla.; Alamance Crossing in Burlington, N.C.; CherryVale Mall in Rockford, Ill., and Imperial Valley in El Centro, Calif.

Tesla Superchargers allow Tesla owners to travel for free between cities along well-traveled highways in North America. Superchargers provide half a charge in about 20 minutes and are strategically placed to allow owners to drive from station to station with minimal stops. By the end of the summer, Tesla will have two dozen stations to support long-distance driving along the most popular routes in North America and where customers want to stop, such as cafes, restaurants, and shopping areas. By the end of the year, Model S drivers will be able to travel coast to coast for free charging along the Supercharging network.

“CBL is pleased to be one of the first national mall developers to enter into a long-term partnership with Tesla,” said Jim Ward, VP of brand development for CBL. “We are confident that Tesla owners will appreciate the convenience of charging their vehicles at our well-located shopping centers that serve as the hub for shopping, dining, and entertainment in their communities.”

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News

Connecting with Canadians HBC style

BY CSA STAFF

An epic journey and exercise in social media brand building is now underway in Canada where four intrepid young men are crossing the country in a custom RV to promote awareness of Hudson’s Bay and have a good time in the process.

The 90 unit department store chain kicked of the tour on on June 19th in Vancouver, British Columbia. The custom branded RV which features the retailer’s signature stripes will stop in 49 Canadian cities and before arriving in Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland on August 11th. Dubbed “Project Aventure,” the two month journey is billed as a celebration of Hudson’s Bay’s past, present and much-anticipated future with a truly Canadian experience that showcases the outdoors

"Our brand has always represented the Canadian spirit of adventure and this cross-Canada tour is an opportunity for us to engage with our consumers in an exciting way and take them on a trip of a lifetime across this beautiful country and into the great outdoors,” said Marc Metrick, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer of Hudson’s Bay.

The team of four travelers, Michael Simonetti, 27, Brent Marson, 27, Ryan Banting, 20 and Chris Arthur, 20, will document their activities on land, sea and air in a series of Web episodes that begin airing on July 1 across all social media channels, according to the company. The men will partake in surfing, kayaking, bear tours, an alpine helicopter tour, mountain biking, visiting a bison safari, snorkeling with Beluga whales, dog sledding, wakeboarding, waterskiing, the CN Tower Edge Walk and paragliding while equipped with cameras. In addition, along the way, selected Canadian Olympic athletes will meet up with the explorers for exclusive Olympic training sessions. The explorers will get to spend a day in the life of an Olympian and will receive lessons from the pro’s in the sports or activities that they’ve spent their lives training for, or in their current outdoor athletic passion including surfing, kayaking, mountain biking, volleyball and archery.

Plans call for the tour to stop at various Hudson’s Bay locations across the country in major markets including Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, and Moncton, where consumers can stop by the parked RV and hang-out with the explorers to hear about their journey to-date and what’s just around with the corner.

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