FINANCE

SpendingPulse: Overall sales momentum continues, but category strength shifts

BY Marianne Wilson

Purchase, N.Y. — October’s unusual weather patterns — an unseasonably warm first half of the month and a snow storm on the last Saturday of the month — may have pushed some spending into November, according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, a macroeconomic report tracking national retail and service sales across all payment forms including cash and check.

While retail spending overall grew at a pace consistent with that of the last several months, the relative strengths of the various sectors changed and growth in some categories was offset by deceleration in others. While apparel was up in the mid single-digits in October over the same month in 2010, its growth rate slowed considerably since September.

The slow-down in growth was seen across all apparel’s sub-sectors, with men’s and family Apparel showing October growth rates at less than half of September’s levels.

“Sales began to pick up momentum in October 2010, which is creating a more difficult comparison environment in October 2011,” said Michael McNamara, VP of research and analysis for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse. “Further, the unusual snow storm that hit the Northeast on the last Saturday of the month may well have kept shopper traffic down similar to the pattern we saw when Hurricane Irene hit on the last Saturday of August.”

The slower growth in apparel was somewhat offset by stronger results in electronics and appliances. McNamara pointed out that electronics and appliances’ gain in October 2011 against October 2010 results were the first positive results for the category since March of this year, and the highest growth since September 2010.

The most significant shopping event in October is Halloween, and the Halloween-related sectors, including drug stores, gift and novelty Stores and grocery, performed relatively well with growth of 5.1% compared with October 2010. Year-over-year food price increase contributed to the gain, however all Halloween related sectors had positive gains versus 2010.

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REAL ESTATE

Bloomingdale’s to open store in Glendale, Calif.

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — Macy’s said Thursday that it will open a full-line Bloomingdale’s in Glendale Galleria in Glendale, Calif., in fall 2013.

The 120,000-sq.-ft., two-level store will headline an upscale redevelopment of the center being planned by its owner, General Growth Properties. The top two floors of the former Mervyn’s location will be entirely remodeled by Bloomingdale’s, with construction expected to begin in 2012.

“Glendale Galleria will be our eighth store in the market,” said Michael Gould, chairman and CEO of Bloomingdale’s. “Much like Bloomingdale’s stores in Soho and Santa Monica, we expect our assortment and shopping experience in Glendale will be carefully edited for the community and customer.”

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OPERATIONS

Toys ‘R’ Us names leadership team for Asian businesses

BY Staff Writer

Wayne, N.J. – Toys “R” Us has named the leadership team for its retail business operations in Southeast Asia and Greater China, following the recent announcement of its new joint venture agreement with Li & Fung Retailing. With this agreement, the existing Toys “R” Us business operations in the region, which had previously been licensed, are now majority owned and controlled by Toys “R” Us.

Monika Merz, currently president and CEO, Toys “R” Us, Japan has been named president, Toys “R” Us, Asia. In addition to providing ongoing leadership for the Toys “R” Us businesses in Japan and Australia, Merz’s role has been expanded to include oversight and further development of the company’s operations across seven markets throughout Asia.

Pieter Schats has been named managing director, Toys “R” Us, Southeast Asia and Greater China. Prior to this, Schats served as CEO of Toys LiFung (Asia) Limited, which previously operated the Toys “R” Us business in Asia under a licensing agreement. In his new capacity, Mr. Schats is responsible for all operations and business activities for the company’s 90 wholly owned stores in Brunei, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. He also provides support for the company’s 14 licensed stores in the Philippines and Macau. Schats reports to Merz.

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