HOT CONCEPTS

Top 10 Must-See Stores … Fall Edition

BY CSA STAFF

The folks at Echochamber.com, a London-based consultancy, have a knack for rooting out hot retail concepts around the globe. Here’s a recap of the retailers who make up their latest “Top 10 Unmissable New Stores” report:

1. Loblaw’s, Toronto: Loblaw Companies Limited has transformed the famed Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto —former home of one of the most famous hockey arenas in North America — into the ultimate upscale supermarket destination. The design pays homage to the history of the building and is presents food as theatre. For more on Loblaws Toronto click here. chainstoreage.com/article/loblaws-scores-big-toronto?ad=store-of-the-week

2. Louis Vuitton Island Maison, Singapore: The ultimate luxury destination, with a nautically inspired interior designed by Peter Marino.

3. 3×1, New York City: A denim atelier where customers can design their own jeans and then watch as they are custom made in front of their eyes. The space features three glass-enclosed boxes: Cut & Sew, Steam and Press, and Finishing.

4. Roast + Conch, London: From Hotel Chocolat, this chocolate and coffee bar tells the story of how chocolate is made, demonstrating the process on site.

5. Starbucks, Amsterdam: Located underground in the vault of an historic old bank, landmark, the space boasts its own in-store bakery as well as a stage for live music and poetry. For more click here starbucks.com/blog/our-newest-store-in-amsterdam-mingling-tradition-with-innovation/1196

6. M&S, Cheshire Oaks, United Kingdom: At 151,000 sq. ft., this is the biggest and greenest Marks & Spencer store to date. Environmental concerns played into all parts of the design and build.

7. Sephora, Sensorium: New York City: A pop-up interactive exhibit located in the warehouse next to Sephora’s Meatpacking District store (another must-see), the space brings the world of scent to life. Even the videos are scented.

8. Nike + Fuel, London: A high-tech pop-up with a cutting-edge design. Daily running classes and digital one-on-one consultations with real athletes are among the attractions.

9. Uniqlo, Tokyo: The company’s 50,000-sq.-ft. flagship in Tokyo’s Ginza district, is the brand’s biggest store in the world.

10. Victoria’s Secret, London: The brand makes its London debut with a super glamorous, 40,000-sq.-ft. store on Bond St. The three-level space features glass chandeliers, a VIP suite and a rich, luxe ambience.

See the full Echochamber report with photos.


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News

Walmart launches ‘Golden Spark’ promotion as part of hunger awareness campaign

BY CSA STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart has launched part of its Fighting Hunger Together fall initiative to provide meals to communities in need.

The "Golden Spark" promotion, a $2.5 million initiative, gives consumers a chance to win "sparks" that will help fund childhood hunger programs in their communities. The Fighting Hunger Together fall initiative is part of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s $2 billion commitment through 2015 to fight hunger. As a part of this commitment, Walmart and its Foundation pledged to donate more than 1.1 billion lbs. of food from Walmart stores, distribution centers and Sam’s Club locations, valued at $1.75 billion, as well as $250 million in grants to support hunger relief organizations.

Walmart said the Fighting Hunger Together fall initiative launches amidst the release of the U.S. Department of Agriculture report which found that at some point during the year, more than 50 million Americans won’t know where their next meal will come from, which is equivalent to 1-in-6 Americans.

"The USDA report is yet again proof that millions of Americans are facing the harsh reality of hunger this year and the issue is further compounded by a historic drought and the lingering effects of high unemployment rates," said Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the Walmart Foundation. "Walmart is committed to fighting hunger in America every day. By engaging our partners and providing unique and creative opportunities for our customers and associates to join the fight against hunger, such as this campaign, we know we can make an even greater impact and help local communities through this critical time."

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FINANCE

Study: Retail CFOs forecast 4.5% increase in total 2012 sales

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Chicago — A study released on Tuesday by BDO USA found that retailers are generally confident that year-end sales will top last year’s. According to the sixth-annual BDO Retail Compass Survey of CFOs, which examined the opinions of 100 leading retail CFOs nationwide, retailers are expecting a 4.5% increase in total 2012 sales.

While the forecast shows improving confidence when compared with sales projections for 2011 (+3%) and 2010 (+2%), retailers have been relatively guarded in year-end expectations. In 2011, total retail sales exceeded expectations and increased 7.3%.

The survey found that retail CFOs are also growing more confident in the overall economic picture. While a majority (57%) expect to see a continuation of stagnant economic conditions in the near future, the number of CFOs forecasting an ongoing economic turnaround nearly tripled this year (32%, up from 11% in 2011).

“Consumers proved resilient through back-to-school season, and that is fueling greater optimism for holiday sales results,” said Doug Hart, partner in the Retail and Consumer Product Practice at BDO USA. “But retailers aren’t counting their dollars just yet. Forecasts are cautious as retailers closely watch unemployment, election results and inventory levels – any of which could throw a wrench in holiday results.”

Other major findings of the survey include:

  • Forty eight percent of CFOs forecast an increase in same-store sales for the second half of 2012, which includes holiday results.
  • In total, CFOs forecast a 3.6% increase in same-store sales for the second half of 2012, which is consistent with 2011 projections (3.5%). For all of 2012, retailers forecast a 4.1% increase.
  • Retailers plan to keep inventory levels in check, as 55% of CFOs said they have maintained their inventory levels for the 2012 holiday season. While one-in-four say they increased their inventory, overall, CFOs project a flat increase of 1.1% over 2011 levels.
  • Inventory levels, however, are not the greatest threat to margins for most retailers in the remainder of 2012. Instead, the cost of products tops the list, with 40% of retail CFOs noting it as the primary threat. CFOs also cite logistics and transportation (18%) and store operating costs (17%) in addition to inventory levels and markdowns (17%). Among CFOs at the 100 largest retailers, however, 36% say inventory levels and markdowns are the top threat to margins, up from 25% in 2011.
  • Sixty percent of CFOs say unemployment is the economic challenge that has had the greatest impact on consumer confidence so far this year, and 41% said that unemployment will have the most impact on consumer confidence during the remainder of 2012.
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