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Report: Importers prep for uptick in consumer spending

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City — A report released Wednesday by Capital Business Credit said that importers who sell to America’s major retailers are preparing for a significant uptick in consumer spending this spring and summer.

According to the quarterly Global Retail Manufacturers and Importers Survey, 43.2% of respondents believe that the 2012 spring season will be stronger than 2011, and 40% believe that the 2012 summer season will surpass last year’s sales. Fears of a double dip seem to be declining, as an additional 40% of respondents believe that the spring and summer retail seasons will be at least as robust as last year’s.

"Retailers have played it very close to the vest for the past several years, fearful of overstocking the shelves,” said Andrew Tananbaum, executive chairman of CBC. “As consumers begin to open their pocketbooks again, importers and manufacturers are finally beginning to see increases in orders and re-orders. This is indicative that a stronger retail and economic recovery is underway."

Forty percent of respondents indicated that retailers ordered more merchandise for the spring season as compared to last year. Twenty percent reported that orders stayed the same. An overwhelming 78.3% cited that they are receiving re-orders for spring merchandise – demonstrating stronger consumer demand than was initially anticipated.

While demand is increasing, margin pressures remain, with 62% of respondents citing that retailers are still relying on discounting to move product off the shelves.

Slightly more than one third (37%) of respondents indicated that they are seeing an increase in orders for the summer season, while 30.4% are seeing orders stay the same. The overwhelming majority (81.8% believe that the summer season will perform better than, or as well as, 2011.

While growth is expected for the summer, it is not at record breaking levels. Of those who believe that sales will be stronger, 45% believe it will be 3% to 5% stronger and 35% believe it will be stronger by 3% or less.

The Global Retail Manufacturers and Importers Survey polled more than 50 manufacturers and importers throughout the week of February 27, 2012.

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Ikea to unveil newer, more energy efficient store in Canada

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Burlington, Ontario — Ikea Canada said that it has turned its focus to sustainability in Canada during a period of expansion in the country.

As the retailer opens three stores this year in Canada, it said it is committed to having this new wave of stores be 40% more efficient than the last store built in 2004.

Ikea Richmond, Canada’s newest store set to open on April 25, will feature a geothermal installation, rainwater harvesting, a solar-equipped navigation tower as well as approximately one tree for every six parking spaces. Ikea Richmond coworkers will also be able to enjoy the new edible garden located on the store’s rooftop.

"Ikea recognizes the importance of our business having a positive impact on people and the environment," said Maya Abdou, Ikea Richmond store manager. "As an extension of our ongoing commitment to responsible business practices, Ikea Richmond is implementing new policies and adopting new features that ensure greater efficiency and sustainability of our new building."

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Books-A-Million profit up in Q4, announces new CEO

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Birmingham, Ala. — Books-A-Million reported Wednesday that profit for the quarter ended Jan. 28 edged up to $7.6 million, from $6.7 million a year earlier.

Sales increased 10.7% to $166.9 million, from $150.8 million. Same-store sales declined 5.7%.

During the quarter, the retailer said it incurred costs of $1.6 million related to the closing of 21 underperforming locations and the opening of 41 new Bam! stores in October and November.

For the full year, Books-A-Million reported that it lost $2.5 million, compared with a $9 million profit in 2011. Sales dropped 3.6% to $468.5 million and same-store sales declined 9.5%.

In related news, current chairman and CEO Clyde Anderson announced that, while he would remain in the executive chairman role, Books-A-Million had named a new CEO: Terrance Finley, who presently fills the president and COO position. Finley became president, CEO and COO effective March 13.

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