STORE SPACES

BJ’s to suspend membership requirement—temporarily

BY Marianne Wilson

BJ’s Wholesale Club is putting out the welcome sign.

The retailer announced it is launching a “Welcome One and All” event that will enable all shoppers to experience the benefits of BJ’s membership, with no fee or commitment. The event will run from Monday, Oct. 15, to Nov. 4.

“We’ve transformed our clubs with convenient new services and great products, giving members more ways to save time and money,” said Lee Delaney, executive VP, chief commercial officer. “We’re proud to showcase the new BJ’s Wholesale Club, and we welcome all shoppers to experience what a BJ’s membership has to offer.”

Shoppers not currently enrolled in membership can sign up for a free three-month trial membership or join for just $25 for 12 months with BJ’s Easy Renewal®. Shoppers who sign up for BJ’s membership during “Welcome One and All” will also receive one free delivery through November 4, 2018 on a same day delivery order through delivery.bjs.com.

Headquartered in Westborough, Massachusetts, BJ’s Wholesale Club Holdings, currently operates 215 clubs and 136 BJ’s Gas locations in 16 states.

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Allbirds will use new funding to fuel expansion

BY Marianne Wilson

The maker of what it calls “the world’s most comfortable shoes” has closed on new funding that should help it expand its fledgling brick-and-mortar presence.

Allbirds, the eco-friendly online footwear brand with a fast-growing following, announced that it has closed Series C funding of $50 million, led by T. Rowe Price Investment Management, Fidelity Management & Research Company and Tiger Global. The new round brings the company’s total funding to more than $75 million.

Allbirds, which launched online in 2014, currently operates two physical stores, one in its San Francisco hometown and the other in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. It is set to make its European debut next week, opening a store in London’s Covent Garden area. According to reports, Allbirds plans to open more U.S. locations during the next year.

The company plans to put its new funding toward retail expansion as well as towards research and development of sustainable footwear products.

Allbird’s signature footwear is made from renewable Merino wool. (The company says that the wool minimizes odor, regulates temperature, and wicks moisture.) The brand has expanded its product lineup from two items — a “lounger” and a casual sneaker — with a sneaker called Tree Runners. It is made of naturally derived and renewable eucalyptus tree fiber, and SweetFoam flip-flops, which are made out of a sugar-based outsole material.

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Survey: Discount stores attract all ages, incomes

BY Marianne Wilson

Everyone loves a bargain.

Nearly all U.S. consumers regularly visit discount retailers to find a bargain, according to the latest issue of the quarterly Consumer View report by the National Retail Federation. In a survey of more than 3,000 U.S. adults, 89% said they shop at various types of discount retailers, ranging from dollar stores to thrift stores to off-pricers. Of those, 58% reported shopping at dollar stores, 50% at off-price stores like Ross or T.J. Maxx and discount grocers like Aldi or Lidl, 44% at outlet stores and 36% at thrift stores.

The survey found that discount store shopping has wide appeal that cuts across income groups and ages. Eighty-nine percent of those making under $50,000 a year said they shop at various discount retailers along with 88% of those making between $50,000 and $100,000 and 90% of those making over $100,000. Bargain shoppers include 93% of both Millennials (born from 1981 to 1994) and Generation Z (born in 1995 or later) over the age of 18.

“Looking for the best price is a habit that cuts across almost every demographic,” NRF VP for research development and industry analysis Mark Mathews said. “Regardless of income or generation, virtually everyone wants a bargain whether it’s for everyday necessities or big-ticket splurges. Even those who can afford to shop elsewhere love finding a ‘steal,’ and it’s a habit that’s here to stay.”

In other survey findings:

• Clothing is the product shoppers are most likely to purchase at bargain retailers, cited by 75% of those surveyed, followed by groceries (71%), home décor and furnishings (62%), personal care and beauty products (60 percent) and electronics (52%).

• There are regional differences among value shoppers, with 38% living in the South, 23% in the West, 21% in the Midwest and 18% in the Northeast. Shoppers are almost evenly divided among men (47%) and women (53%), and 46% have children.

• Value shopping is a way of life for those surveyed, with 43% going to a discount grocer weekly, 66% visiting a dollar store at least twice a month and 58% shopping at an outlet at least once a month. And 63% are buying more items on sale than they did five years ago.

• Value consumers are “willing to give up almost anything for the satisfaction of a good bargain,” with three-quarters or more not expecting buy online/pick up in-store, free two-day shipping, product reviews or an “entertaining” shopping experience.

“Off-price and discount shopping took off during the recession as price-conscious consumers looked to save on everything from brand-name goods to everyday household purchases,” the report said. “Now, eight years into the economic recovery, consumers continue to hunt for deals and discounts.”

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