Trending Stores: Eloquii, The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, Arlington, Va.
Online plus-size fast-fashion retailer Eloquii is testing its first physical location, a pop-up shop in the Washington, D.C. area.
The 2,600-sq.-ft. store, at The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, offers a range of apparel and accessories in a contemporary-looking space marked by bleached oak and black metal frame displays. In a nod to the brand’s online roots, tablets are located throughout the store, allowing customers to browse the retailer’s full collection on its website. Digital signs display customers’ Instagram images of themselves wearing Eloquii. Customers can also reserve styling appointments.
Eloquii was launched in 2011 by The Limited, but was shut down a year-and-half later as part of a company restructuring. With the help of former employees and an investor, the brand relaunched as an independent, vertically-integrated e-commerce business specializing in fast-fashion in sizes 14 to 28.
Quarterly reports paint a vibrant picture for physical retail
Current media reporting on the state of physical retail is mostly doom and gloom. But analysts at real estate research company CoStar listened in on the latest wave of Q1 earnings calls and discovered a generally bullish attitude for brick-and-mortar retail among developers.
“I just think the [negative] narrative is a way ahead of itself,” a CoStar report quoted Simon Properties CEO David Simon as saying.
Simon reported 95.6% occupancy at Simon properties along with strong consumer traffic that had its mall and outlet center retailers averaging sales of $615 per square foot.
General Growth Properties CEO Sandeep Lakhmi Mathrani asserted that there was “a wide discount between public and private markets,” and that the sum value of GGP’s properties was far greater than its current stock price.
Acadia Realty Trust CEO Ken Bernstein attributed the current round of retailer downsizings in part to once-strong chains that have lost their edge and others that have over-extended themselves or under-delivered.
“There has been a flood of [unfavorable] news about retailing and retail real estate, and while there is reason for legitimate concern, there is too much over-generalization going on,” Bernstein said.
“The good news,” he added, “is that over time, the pricing subsidies in e-commerce will likely moderate and traditional retailers will have competitive omnichannel capabilities that complement their bricks and mortar locations.”
Simon concluded that “we’ve all got to have a better experience for the consumer because they’re a tough nut to crack. We’re frustrated only by the narrative, but not by what’s happening in our business.”
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NRF: Retail jobs on the increase in April
The retail industry had some good news on the job front in April.
Retail industry employment increased by 2,500 jobs in April from March, the National Retail Federation said Friday. (The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.) The NRF report, which does not detail job cuts, comes the day after a report from outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas that said retail industry experienced 11,669 job cuts in April, the highest total among all industries.
“This rebound in April employment mitigates the weakness in recent months,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “It’s important to remember that job growth and other key economic indicators for any single month or short period can be highly variable. A month or two up or down might be the opposite of the months before or after. It’s long-term trends that tell us the most.”
Average hourly earnings remained strong, up a solid 2.5% higher than the same time a year ago. On a three-month moving average on a seasonally adjusted basis, retail employment shows a decline of 20,600 jobs.
“We will be watching the mid-month retail sales numbers to understand how recent employment shifts relate to consumer spending,” Kleinhenz said.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the retail industry currently has over 541,000 job openings, more than twice as many as it did during the recession.
The overall economy gained 211,000 jobs in April, the Labor Department said. April unemployment fell to 4.4%, down slightly from 4.5% in March.