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The mall at the hospital

BY Michael Fickes

Chain Store Age posted a story about Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital opening a new 70,000-sq.-ft. retail store and restaurant development in the hospital and across the campus.

The story makes the point that hospitals are untapped growth areas for retailers. Hospitals employ large numbers of people, care for large numbers of outpatients and welcome large numbers of family members visiting inpatients. Hospitals are also set amidst office buildings with large daytime populations.

If an office building can install retail stores and restaurants on the ground floor, why can’t hospitals?

In fact, hospitals are doing just that: In Montgomery, Ohio, Christ Hospital’s new outpatient center will soon see a 70,000-sq.-ft. retail and restaurant development break ground next door.

In Nashville, Vanderbilt Health has leased about half of the 850,000-sq.-ft. One Hundred Oaks shopping mall.

It seems to me that two trends are converging here. On the healthcare side, the Affordable Care Act will require healthcare providers to treat more patients — the 40 million or so Americans that must now buy health insurance. At the same time, the providers will receive less in fees. The law reduces payments to physicians and hospitals under some programs such as Medicare.

So healthcare institutions must build facilities that are easy for patients to find and get to, while growing more efficient in providing care.

Shopping center locations — almost always easily accessible — can funnel lots of prospective patients past healthcare facilities day in and day out. And when a customer gets the flu, he or she will know that medical help is as close as the local shopping center.

On the retail side of the equation, retailers have discovered the benefits of taking retail to places where people congregate: airports, train stations, mixed-use centers with office and residential components. Now healthcare facilities are part of retail destinations.

What’s the next big retail location idea?


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Bitcoin payment service chief touts e-currency to feds

BY CSA STAFF

The electronic currency known as bitcoin allows small- and medium-size companies to reach more customers by opening new markets that were previously unreachable, the co-founder of a company that allows businesses to use bitcoins said in testimony this week before two Senate subcommittees. And it appears that federal authorities are open to its development.

Tony Gallippi, the CEO of BitPay, testified before the Senate Subcommittee on National Security and International Trade and Finance and the Subcommittee on Economic Policy on "The Present and Future Impact of Virtual Currency."

Developed as a theory in a 2008 paper and introduced in early 2009, bitcoin has grown in popularity lately with investors, businesses and consumers. The currency works as a peer-to-peer system that allows direct payments between two parties who store their bitcoins in electronic wallets, protected by a system of cryptography, private keys and electronic signatures; like cash, they can be stolen, but unlike cash, they can’t be counterfeited. In addition, they’re virtually anonymous and have a finite supply.

But they have some unattractive qualities as well. Their anonymity makes them a popular means to buy contraband, such as illegal drugs, most infamously on the Deep website Silk Road, recently shut down by federal authorities, but soon after revived. They also are known to swing wildly in value: On Tuesday, the currency reached a value of $900 for one bitcoin before falling to $480.

"In order for bitcoin to flourish, it is imperative its susceptibility to illicit uses be addressed," one subcommittee member, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said during the hearing. Gallippi responded, "We share in the common goal, to protect the consumers from fraud, and that legitimate service providers separate the good actors from the bad."

So far, federal regulators seem to have a positive view of the currency. "There are plenty of opportunities for digital currencies to operate within existing laws and regulations," the New York Times quoted Secret Service special agent Edward Lowery as saying; the Secret Service is in charge of protecting the integrity of the dollar.

Gallippi sees bitcoin as ideal for small businesses. "Credit cards were never designed for the Internet, and credit card fees are discriminatory; the highest fees are paid by the smallest businesses," Gallippi said in his testimony. "If you are a business owner, it is your fault that you took a stolen credit card, even if the bank approved it. Bitcoin is a cheaper, faster and more secure payment system, with no discrimination against smaller businesses."

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New console buzz not enough for GameStop’s Q3 results

BY CSA STAFF

Last week’s PS4 launch and the highly anticipated Xbox One launch bolstered GameStop’s third-quarter results, but not as much as some investors expected, according to other reports.

The company posted total global sales for the quarter of $2.11 billion, an 18.8% increase from $1.77 billion in the prior-year quarter. Consolidated comparable store sales surged 20.5%, significantly above the forecasted range — but, according to a Reuters report, not enough to keep shares from slipping 6%.

During the quarter, sales of new software increased by 43.1%, driven by the strong performance of recently released new titles, such as Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto V. New hardware sales grew 15.3%, led by strong sell-through of Nintendo 2DS and 3DS. Each of these categories outperformed the overall market, leading to 675 basis points of market share gain during the quarter. Pre-owned sales decreased 2%. The company’s new businesses, mobile and digital, had sales and receipts growth of 14.4% to $49.9 million and 8.6% to $137.9 million, respectively.

GameStop’s net earnings for the quarter were $68.6 million, a 45.3% increase compared to adjusted net income of $47.2 million in the prior year quarter.

“Our strong third quarter sales results give us great momentum as we enter the new console cycle,” said CEO Paul Raines. “Consumer appetite for the new consoles is very strong judging by last week’s successful PS4 launch and the excitement for tonight’s Xbox One launch event. Globally, we are executing our unique playbook to maximize our position of strength.”

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