SUPPLY CHAIN

W.P. Carey acquires H&M DC in Poland for $85 million

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — Real estate investment trust W.P. Carey has acquired a Hennes & Mauritz logistics center in Poznan, Poland.

W.P. Carey, through one of its affiliates, purchased the 896,911-sq.-ft. facility for $85 million.

The center, which supplies all of H&M’s Eastern European stores as well as serves as its primary European e-commerce logistics hub, will be leased back to H&M.

“We were attracted to the long-term income provided by the lease, the strong guarantee of H&M and the high quality of the property," said Jeffrey Lefleur, managing director of W. P. Carey.

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OPERATIONS

Office Depot rolls out omni-channel initiatives

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Boca Raton, Fla. — As part of its plan to support a customer-focused omni-channel experience, Office Depot said that, effective July 28, its associates will be enabled with mobile hand-held devices across all stores to provide instant access to extended product information, availability, customer reviews and on-the-spot checkout from anywhere in the store.

Designed to launch in tandem with the back-to-school push, the mobile technology will also allow associates to order out-of-stock items from Officedepot.com (with free shipping) via their mobile devices.

The office supply retailer is also rolling out in-store touch-screen kiosks and workstations to allow customers to research the full assortment of items available at Office Depot and order for delivery. Consumers can also download the Office Depot App to scan any barcode in-store to read reviews and additional product details, or use the company’s free Wi-Fi service in-store.

“Technology is constantly changing the way people shop,” said Christine Buscarino, VP customer experience, Office Depot. “We are continuing to refresh our services and our omni-channel offerings to ensure customers get what they need, when they need it. It’s about shopping for and receiving products at a time and in a way that is most convenient.”

Additionally, Office Depot has introduced a “Buy Online, Ready in One-Hour” program, which allows customers to purchase online and pick up at a store in one hour.

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News

ShopperTrak weighs in with BTS outlook

BY CSA STAFF

CHICAGO — Retail sales and traffic will increase during the back-to-school season, reflecting a recovering economy, according to ShopperTrak, the world’s largest counter and analyzer of retail traffic.

The company found that national retail sales, when compared to the same period last year, will rise 4.3% in August, and retail foot traffic will increase 0.6%.

“Back-to-school shopping is the first major ‘shopping season’ of the calendar year, and has the potential to set the tone for the holidays,” said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. “The economy is, in many ways, stronger than it was last August. We expect that the 2013 season will continue the growth trend of both retail sales and foot traffic.”

In 2012, back-to-school sales increased 5.9% compared to the previous year. In 2011, those sales increased 4.5% over 2010.

Likewise, while this year’s retail foot traffic increase may seem incremental, it continues the positive trend. In 2012, foot traffic turned around and increased a substantial 11%, compared to the back-to-school traffic in 2011. That year, foot traffic declined 5.1% from 2010.

The expected increases in August reflect the U.S. economy’s slow but steady gains. For instance, unemployment this year is lower than it was during last year’s back-to-school time. Though consumer sentiment does not impact retail sales immediately, the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index recently reached its highest level since the beginning of the recession. The last time consumer sentiment was as high as it was in May 2013 was in Sept. 2007.

In recent years, back-to-school shoppers had focused on stores with the best values. But with this positive consumer sentiment, shoppers may be more willing to “shop around” at more stores — not just the value locations — thus adding to the increased foot traffic and sales.

“On the whole, more people feel better about their financial situation than they did last year in August,” said Martin. “Parents are ready to spend on their children’s school necessities. The consumers will be browsing. In order to seize this opportunity, smart retailers must prepare their marketing and operations to increase their foot traffic, sales and ultimately, their shopper conversion rates.”

ShopperTrak measures foot traffic in more than 60,000 global locations and analyzes the data in a proprietary, econometric model to create its ShopperTrak National Retail Sales Estimate (NRSE) of general merchandise, apparel and accessories, furniture and other sales (GAFO).

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