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Penney launches in-store Disney shops, new kids brands

BY Marianne Wilson

Plano, Texas — J.C. Penney is expanding its baby and kids departments with the launch of several exclusive brands. The launch includes the installation of Disney branded shops, ranging from 800 sq. ft. to 1,100 sq. ft., inside 565 Penney stores on Oct. 4.

The Disney in-store shops will offer toys, collectibles and children’s apparel designed exclusively for Penney and showcasing various Disney characters, including ones from Toy Story and Monsters University and Disney Junior shows.

"The addition of Disney Shops to J.C. Penney will be a major draw in our kids department, offering customers an entirely new selection of high-quality gifts just in time for the holiday season,” said Betsy Schumacher, Penney’s senior VP and general merchandise manager.

In addition, Penney is debuting the giggleBABY, Wendy Bellissino, baker by Ted Baker, Sally M by Sally Miller, and Flowers by Zoe by Kourageous Kids brands in select stores and on jcp.com.

"The addition of these partners means that we’re not only elevating our quality and value proposition, we’re further positioning J.C. Penney as the best place to shop for kids,” Schumacher said.

According to some industry analysts, the Disney shops may be one of the most promising concepts the struggling retailer has as moves into the holiday season.

As new movies are released, the Disney shops inside Penney stores, as well as jcp.com, will be continually updated with new merchandise reflecting characters from Disney’s animated feature films.

"Disney is known for combining incredible storytelling with quality product and we are excited to see the Disney Shops at J.C. Penney come to life, giving consumers a new way to engage with their favorite Disney characters and stories," said Paul Gainer, executive VP, Disney Retail.

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Survey: Consumers buying more specialty foods

BY Staff Writer

New York — Consumers are choosing specialty foods over conventional foods at record levels, according to research from the Specialty Food Association.

Nearly 75% of U.S. consumers report making specialty food purchases this year, a major increase since the economic downturn of 2009 when only 46% reported that they bought these high-quality products. Consumers surveyed say they spend about one quarter of their at-home food dollars on specialty options like artisanal chocolates, cheeses and oils.

"The results confirm that consumers are responding to the wealth of innovative foods and beverages being produced today by food artisans and entrepreneurs across the U.S.," says Ron Tanner, the Specialty Food Association’s VP of communications and education. "Specialty food has become part of the daily diet for a majority of Americans."

The findings are based on an online survey conducted by Mintel International in August 2013 of 1,486 adults age 18 and older who purchase specialty foods.

Some 43% of specialty food consumers use their mobile phones to buy food, and nearly half buy foods with locally-grown ingredients.

Specialty food consumers tend to be young, affluent, and live in the West or Northeast. Men are almost as likely to make purchases as women, with 74% of men and 75% of women reporting buying specialty foods.

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Study: Price and product selection key to in-store purchases

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Despite the availability of retail technology, price and product selection are still the largest factors influencing shopper decisions, according to an annual study by global IT services and consulting firm Cognizant. Fifty-five percent of shoppers will leave a store to look online or shop another store if they think a price seems too high, and 21% will ask for a price match.

The fourth Annual Shopper Experience study also revealed that out-of-stocks, followed by prices not clearly marked, are the biggest frustrations when it comes to in-store shopping.

In other findings:

  • Shoppers think Facebook is the most important social technology for stores to use, followed by Pinterest and Blogs, according to the study.
  • Men are more likely than women to buy online and pickup in-store: 61% of male shoppers purchased online and picked up in store versus 41% of women. And 56% of men purchased specialty products online, versus only 29% of women.
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