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NYC Retail Preview: Stores to See

BY CSA STAFF

Making your NRF Show plans? Don’t forget to allow yourself time to check out the Big Apple’s exciting retail scene. Here’ s a quick hit list of the city’s newest retail stars:

Aeropostale: The mall-based teen fave is look to attract tourists and locals alike with its 19,000 sq. ft., two-level flagship. The design mixes New York City-inspired accents with high-tech interactivity: a digital billboard illuminated by 2 million LEDs wraps around and into the store, with content that includes shoppers dancing with virtual models. (1515 Broadway, at 45th St.)

Cire Trudon:
The centuries-old, legendary French candle maker (Marie Antoinette was a client) makes its U.S. debut with a design inspired by the Galerie des Glaces at Versailles. Antiqued mirrors, stucco, French molding and hardware, and molded Victorian busts — candles never looked so good.
(54 Bond St.)

Disney: With a digital billboard that towers six stories above Times Square, the 25,000-sq.-ft. Disney store is a showstopper. It’s a real crowd-pleaser with all sorts of bells and whistles packed into its second floor, including a princess castle with “magic mirrors.” Wave an RFID-enabled wand and talk to Cinderella. (1540 Broadway, at 46th St.)

Eataly: A temple to the food of Italy, Eataly takes shopping — and eating — to new heights. This 45,000-sq.-ft. marketplace is a culinary extravaganza, a sprawling grocery store complete with tasting rooms and restaurants and a culinary educational center. There is nothing quite like it anywhere — with the exception of the original Eataly, in Turin, Italy. (200 5th Ave., at 23rd St.)

Forever 21: The fast-fashion chain is testing the waters on Fifth Avenue, renting a 50,000-sq.ft. space in the former Takashimaya Building for six months. But to get a better feel for Forever 21, check out its giant flagship on Broadway in Times Square. It features a huge digital billboard that utilizes state-of-the-art video technology. Watch as giant-sized virtual models take photos of the people on the street below … and then watch as the photos appear on the billboard above. (693 Fifth Ave., at 54th St.; 1540 Broadway, at 46th St.)

Hollister: The Southern California-themed brand of Abercrombie & Fitch is making waves with the opening of its second Manhattan flagship. The new, two-level, 15,000-sq.-ft. space features a glass storefront that is given over to a video projection of a live feed of the surf in Huntington Beach, Calif. (668 Fifth Ave., near 53rd St.)

Limelight Markeplace: Built in the 1850s, this Chelsea space has been home to a church, an infamous club, and now, a three-floor urban mall. It’s got 60-odd specialty shops, cafes and salons, some of which are new to the U.S. retail scene. Gelato, Cupcake Stop, (656 6th, Ave., or Avenue of the Americas)

Lord & Taylor: An estimated $25 million makeover has given Lord & Taylor’s landmarked 650,000-sq.-ft. flagship a more modern aesthetic. Most dramatic: the redone 30,000-sq.-ft. main floor, which now boasts a Swarovski crystal chandelier and a sleek, high-tech beauty department. (424 Fifth Avenue, between 38th and 39th Streets)

Pop-Tarts World:
This 3,200-sq.-ft. pop-up is dedicated to the popular breakfast pastry. Visit the café for one of more than 30 Pop-Tart-inspired treats — and check out the custom T-shirts. (128 W. 42nd St., Times Square)

Ralph Lauren: The company transformed its famed Rhinelander Mansion on Madison Avenue into its first men’s-only store, while building a women’s flagship (another first) across the street. Both are instant classics. But the women’s store is a stunner. (867 Madison Ave. and 888 Madison Ave., at 72 St., respectively)

Soigne K: Bombay meets the Upper East Side at this sleek, minimalist boutique, which deals in up-and-coming Indian designers. The two-story boutique carries everything from formal attire to jewelry. Contemporary styles are featured on the first floor, spectacular Indian gowns and saris on the second. (717 Madison Ave., at 63rd St.)

Target: After years of flirting (mostly in the form of pop-ups) with Manhattan, Target landed in East Harlem. The store combines the retailer’s signature look and feel with merchandise specifically tailored to the neighborhood. (East 116th Street, between FDR Drive and First Avenue)

Tommy: The newest format from Tommy Hilfiger, Tommy has a youthful, irreverent vibe, reflected in both its quirky, fun store design and merchandise (which is logo free). (374 Bleecker St.)

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Best Buy 3Q sales lower than expected

BY CSA STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS – Best Buy reported net earnings of $217 million, or 54 cents per diluted share, for its fiscal third quarter, compared with $227 million, or 53 cents per diluted share, for the prior-year period.

“I am grateful for the hard work and dedication of our employees in the start of the holiday shopping season,” said Brian Dunn, CEO of Best Buy. “While sales were lower than we expected during the quarter, I’m pleased with our strong store execution, solid gross margin expansion and efforts to control costs. I’m confident that our employees will continue to deliver great experiences that help our customers select the best gifts for their friends and family this holiday season.”

During the fiscal third quarter of 2011, Best Buy’s revenue decreased 1% to $11.9 billion, compared with revenue of $12 billion for the third fiscal quarter of 2010. The decrease reflected a 3.3% decline in comparable-store sales, partially offset by the impact of net new stores in the past 12 months.

“Fiscal third quarter domestic sales were softer than we expected, but we were very pleased with the continued strong gross margin performance and actions to lower variable expenses,” said Jim Muehlbauer, Best Buy’s EVP finance and CFO. “Based on lower than expected sales and earnings in the fiscal third quarter, and given our current visibility to potential outcomes in the fiscal fourth quarter, we now expect annual earnings to be below our previous fiscal 2011 EPS guidance. There remains a significant amount of business still ahead of us in the holiday selling season and we don’t have complete visibility to how customers will behave over the next several weeks. However, our best view today is that we now expect annual EPS in the range of $3.20 to $3.40.”

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Mobile and Wireless Update: Predictions for 2011

BY CSA STAFF

As 2010 draws to a close and interest in mobile technology and mobile commerce reaches a fever pitch (mobile is expected to be among the NRF Show’s biggest themes), Juniper Research has drawn up a list of predictions for the mobile and wireless industry for 2011. Here is the firm’s Top 5 predictions:

1. Surging Mobile Data Traffic Will Continue to Test 3G Network Capacity: As we predicted at the end of last year, 2010 was the year in which the surge in mobile data traffic, driven by the consumer smartphone boom, began to place the 3G networks under severe strain. A number of network operators have responded by introducing tiered data pricing — a trend, which will undoubtedly increase — but as smartphone adoption continues apace, network capacity will be sorely tested in 2011. Tiered pricing (and the use of WiFi as capacity relief) may serve to alleviate the problem to a certain extent, but until we see mass deployments of LTE networks (and, equally important, devices that are LTE-capable), then operators face a nervous period of attempting to manage the transition.

2. Augmented Reality to Enhance Mobile Games and Retail: Augmented Reality, or AR, has largely been used in local search and reference applications thus far, but is now attracting the attention of the retail industry. Given its potential to geotag products or locations with brand/campaign-specific information, as we near the end of 2010 a raft of major retailers and brands (including eBay, H&M and Carlsberg) are releasing apps with an AR element.

3. Cloud-Based Operating Systems are Launched: So far, mobile operating systems have followed their PC-based cousins, the structure for which was formulated when the web was in its infancy. Consequently, with the web having taken-off, for some time now industry figures have been talking about the potential for applications to run from a “cloud.” Google announced the start of new project, the Chrome cloud OS in 2009; and the latest is that it will be launched in early 2011. With network reach and reliability reaching a point where cloud-based solutions can be considered viable, and remote servers already being used to allow the mobile Internet and e-mail, we believe 2011 will see the launch of the first cloud OS for mobile.

4. Mobile Banking will Become a “Must-Have” When Opening a New Account: Banks in developed countries will harness the power of the app and the smartphone to provide their customers with a much improved and personalized service experience.

5. Mobile Devices Begin to Replace Credit Cards: 2011 looks like the year when, in some countries at least, using your phone as a credit card for lower value purchases will become a reality. Nokia’s C7 handset has an NFC chip included, which will be activated in 2011, and rumors of Apple’s next iPhone including NFC refuse to die down. A word of caution: it won’t all happen at once as stores need to deploy contactless readers, and more problematically, it is dependent on user preference. However, as with Bluetooth and cameras, we will see NFC in new devices whether we want it or not.

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