REAL ESTATE

Maurice Badler Fine Jewelry to open Park Ave. flagship

BY Staff Writer

New York City — Winick Realty Group said Tuesday that Maurice Badler Fine Jewelry has signed a long-term lease for its 954-sq.-ft. flagship store at 485 Park Avenue, between 58th and 59th Streets on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

The new store is scheduled to open in early November.

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‘Tis the Season…already?

BY Jeff Green

Has anyone else noticed that the Christmas holiday “season” starts earlier and earlier each year? This year, Walmart had their Christmas displays out by mid-September and many retailers were touting holiday sales in October! I still remember when Black Friday was the “official” kick-off to the holiday shopping season and it was surprising to see Christmas decorations up in mid-November. I keep wondering what the real-world implications of this calendar shift might mean – if anything – for retailers’ overall holiday and end-of-year sales? And, ultimately what it means for retail real estate in 2012.

I think that because retailers are still skittish from the recession and cautious about our still-fragile economy, they’re doing everything they can to offset wavering consumer confidence and a shaky climate. With a 4.1% year-over-year holiday sales increase in 2010, many are predicting a modest increase for 2011. ShopperTrak is predicting a 3% increase, while the National Retail Federation is estimating a 3.5% uptick. My own ideas are a little more conservative. Between mediocre macroeconomic indicators and ongoing pessimistic media coverage about a possible “double-dip” recession, I’m thinking we may see a flat to 2% boost this holiday season.

While retailers’ efforts to expand the holiday shopping window may prompt a little worry about diluting the seasonal marketing power, in my view, the early discounting and promotions seem likely to be a good thing for most retailers, and in turn, retail landlords. The worst-case scenario for retailers has always been having an excess of inventory after the holiday season. That’s when they have to sell what’s left for less-than-profitable prices just to get rid of it. And, we all know what happens when the retailer isn’t profitable. Throughout the recession, though, retailers have gotten pretty good at controlling their inventories, minimizing the chances of seeing rock-bottom end-of-year sales. So, I don’t think we’ll have the vacancy issues in 2012 that we’ve had in recent years.

If consumers are looking for specific items, they should really be getting started on their shopping sooner rather than later because of retailers’ controlled inventories. We all understand the frustration of finding the perfect gift for a friend or loved one and then discovering it’s sold out or unavailable in the right size. Because of this, I think we’ll see a real shift in buying patterns this season. It’s quite possible that stronger online sales will mean brick-and-mortar locations won’t feel quite as busy. The electronics sector, in particular, is already seeing a strong correlation between increased online sales and lower in-store traffic. I think apparel will continue its multi-year trend of relatively poor holiday performance as women continue to make fewer impulse purchases for themselves while shopping for family and friends. What may be surprising is that I think discount retailers will probably be fairly flat this year. In my opinion, they aren’t likely to gain many new shoppers because those who were trading down, have already done so. But, I do think luxury will see as high as a 5% increase in sales over last year.

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

Jeff Green is president and CEO of Phoenix-based Jeff Green Partners (jeffgreenpartners.com), a leading consulting firm specializing in retail real estate feasibility, retail expansion planning, medical retail planning, location analysis and commercial land use.


Click here for past columns by Jeff Green.

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Toys”R”Us gains majority stake in Asian operations

BY CSA STAFF

WAYNE, N.J. — Toys“R”Us announced that it has entered into a joint venture with Li & Fung Retailing that would make Toys"R"Us Inc. the majority shareholder of Toys"R"Us operations in Southeast Asia and Greater China. With this agreement, the existing Toys“R”Us licensed operations throughout Asia, which currently consist of more than 100 stores and offices across nine markets, will become 70% majority owned and controlled by Toys“R”Us Inc. and 30% owned by Li & Fung Retailing. The terms of the joint venture also allow Toys“R”Us Inc. to acquire the remaining share of the business in the future.

Effective immediately, the joint venture will include 90 existing Toys“R”Us stores in Brunei, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. These stores will be considered wholly owned operations of Toys“R”Us Inc., increasing the number of the company’s wholly-owned international locations by 17%. The remaining 14 stores in the Philippines and Macau continue to be operated under a license agreement.

“Li & Fung has been a terrific partner in establishing and growing the Toys“R”Us brand in Asia, and we are pleased to continue our work with them as we enter this exciting next phase of our business development there. We believe there is significant growth opportunity for our company in this region, and we look forward to an aggressive expansion of our business in both existing and new Asian markets, including Northern China,” said Jerry Storch, chairman and CEO, Toys“R”Us Inc. “International growth remains a key part of our long-term business strategy, and we are proud to celebrate this important milestone for our company.”

The joint venture will include ownership and oversight of office operations in seven markets, as well as the regional headquarters in Hong Kong. More than 350 employees who had previously been part of the licensed operation will now become Toys“R”Us Inc. employees. An existing network of eight distribution centers in Asia will be used to stock Toys“R”Us stores.

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