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REAL ESTATE

Report: Department store closings are overblown

BY Al Urbanski

Malls and shopping centers are not endangered, but evolving species, International Council of Shopping Centers CEO Thomas McGee told the Miami Herald this week.

“There is stress in the department store segment and closures. When you look at those stores as a percentage of retail square footage, it’s small,” McGee said in a wide-ranging interview with the paper. “But those spaces are big and prominent and they need to be handled in a systematic way.”

McGee pointed out that occupancy at most centers are close to full, but not with the traditional tenants. “It’s not just retail real estate, but consumer real estate and looking at what does the consumer want and need,” he said.

In many cases, that’s not more apparel stores, but things movie complexes, restaurants, arcades, and rock-climbing facilities, he said.

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TECHNOLOGY

ICSC: Technology and personalization drive the retail experience

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

As shoppers demand a streamlined, more personalized shopping experience, retailers are adopting solutions that can draw customers into their stores.

This was revealed in the “ICSC Retail Technology Survey.” The report, which was conducted February 16-19, surveyed 1,022 adults 18 years of age and older.

Consumers of all ages want more access to information — and they expect retailers to respond to this demand.

By 2020, 62% of consumers want access to products/sizes available in store without engaging a salesperson, and 55% of shoppers want to virtually view how home furnishings and accessories fit in a home before they make a purchase. Meanwhile, 54% of customers want to compile a shopping list on a store app and receive a floor map to locate products, the study said.

“Consumers are the drivers of demand, and they’ve made it clear they want more technology integrated into their shopping experience,” said Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC. “Our study shows that consumers are calling for access to more information in stores. The retailers who innovate in this area, make the experience more efficient and better inform the consumer, will win at the register.”

Click-and-collect has been the best example of this innovation. Nearly three out of four consumers (73%) have bought a product online from a mobile device and picked it up in a store. Specifically, 87% of millennials and 79% of Generation X use their mobile device to make a click-and-collect purchase.

Mobile is becoming such a strong influencer that 71% of consumers have one or more retailer apps on their phones, and 74% of shoppers access these apps at least once a week. Diving even deeper, 86% of millennials access a retailer app weekly, followed by Generation X (74%) and Baby Boomers (61%).

Meanwhile, 37% of consumers have used a digital assistant (i.e., Siri) to build shopping lists or to place orders to later pick up items in stores, and 35% of consumers have used a mobile pay option, the study revealed.

Personalization also remains a key focus for consumers. In fact, many seek out retailers who will deliver customized results. For example, 80% of those who have mall/shopping center apps choose to receive notifications about sales/promotions and/or special events while shopping.

Forty-four percent (44%) want to receive access to apps or screens that make it easy to get information such as ingredients in products for allergies, dietary needs. Meanwhile, 43% of consumers are receptive to the idea of retailers personalizing prices based on their shopping patterns and demographics.

Another 39% of shoppers said they would visit a mall or shopping center more often if they received alerts from stores that are selling products they are interested in purchasing, data showed.

“Technology creates innumerable opportunities for retailers to better reach – and convert – consumers,” continued McGee. “Collecting data on a shopper’s specific buying habits can create a healthier connection. Through closely understanding the wants and needs of shoppers, retailers can drive more store visits and create a stronger bond.”

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FINANCE

Century-old value department store calls it quits

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Gordmans Stores is the latest chain to file for bankruptcy.

The 100-year-old chain announced on Monday, March 13, that it filed Chapter 11 in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Nebraska.

The chain has an agreement with Tiger Capital Group, LLC and Great American Group, LLC for the firms to liquidate inventory and other assets across all retail stores and distribution centers. The final outcome of the filing and liquidation sale is subject to the oversight and approval of the Bankruptcy Court, the chain said.

"Until further notice, all Gordmans stores are operating as usual without interruption," said Andy Hall, president and CEO of Gordmans. "The management team and all of our associates remain committed to continu-ing to provide great merchandise and service to our guests during this process.”

The company, which is headquartered in Omaha, operates 106 stores in 62 markets and 22 states.

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