REAL ESTATE

Levin tenant survey: Most are optimistic for the holidays

BY Katherine Boccaccio

North Plainfield, N.J. — Shopping center owner and manager Levin Management Corp., in its annual pre-holiday survey, found that more than a third of its retail tenants predict 2011 sales will be higher than 2010’s, while just 18.9% project a drop in sales for the 2011 holiday season.

The remaining 44.2% expect this year’s holiday sales to mirror last year’s.

The Levin survey, conducted in October and November, explored a number of anticipated trends and comparisons this year among tenants based at its 12.5 million-sq.-ft. retail portfolio in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and throughout the northeast. Some of the findings indicate retailers will continue to offer markdowns to meet demand; inventories are holding steady, and a little more than half said they expect shoppers to spend at a higher rate during the holiday season.

“Although nearly 62% of responders in a 2010 post-holiday survey by Levin reported that 2010 holiday sales actually were lower or the same as 2009, the attitude among retailers in 2011 still is positive,” said Matthew K. Harding, president and COO of Levin Management Corp.

As a catalyst for consumer spending, promotional sale markdowns will match 2010 according to 73% of survey responders. Only 17.9% expect markdowns to be higher, while roughly half that number (9.2%) anticipate lower markdowns.

This year, just 28.4% said their 2011 year-to-date sales were up compared with 2010; 27.4% reported the same level, and 44.1% indicated lower sales. At the corporate level, 36% of those surveyed indicated their companies would be adding stores in 2012, an improvement over the last survey when just 25% of responders said their companies would be adding stores.

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REAL ESTATE

New retail concept for kids makes Chicago debut

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — A new retail concept, Wonder!, has opened it first location in Deerfield, Ill. The 135,000-sq.-ft. space is intended as a one-stop shopping solution, focused on children ages birth to seven years. It combines a broad selection of product (including baby gear, furniture, bedding, apparel, and toys) with an array of experiential elements.

The brainchild of entrepreneur Shane Christensen, the company plans to expand the concept into other major markets in the next year (it already has launched an e-commerce site). Bill Colaianni, former Walmart chief marketing and merchandising officer for Central America, is serving as CEO.

“As a company comprised of parents, we decided to create a destination where you could buy everything you could ever dream of for infants and young children, but at the same time make shopping actually fun for the entire family,” Christensen said. “I saw with my own eyes how fragmented the children’s retail environment was with boutiques, specialty chains, mass merchants, and play and party locations.”

Designed by Gensler, Wonder! features a half-acre interactive play area, complete with 20-ft. live trees, 10 classrooms and a stage that will host special events, concerts and activities. To always provide a new play experience, the retailer plans to frequently change the play area’s components.

Other Wonder! attractions include a space for customized parties,

“After being in the business for 35 years, I can tell you that the Wonder! concept is smart, fresh and unlike anything out there right now in the world of children’s retail,” said CEO Colaianni. “We are setting out to change the game, to create an experiential shopping destination for parents and their kids and make a difference in parents’ lives.”

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REAL ESTATE

City Sports opens 21st store

BY Staff Writer

Silver Spring, Md. — City Sports has opened its 21st store, in downtown Silver Spring, Md. It is the retailer’s second location in the metro D.C. area to open in the past year.

The store features an interactive electronics section that offers shoppers the use of in-store iPads to access information about products and the ability to wear-test headphones.

One of the key features of the Silver Spring store is City Sports’ signature women’s concept, a specially curated experience designed specifically for its female customer that the brand first introduced this past summer. The section houses a comprehensive assortment of sports bras of any specialty athletic retailer, a large selection of training pants, yoga and Pilates gear, private fitting rooms and an iMac communal area.

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