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STORE SPACES

First Look: Adidas Originals goes big in Chicago

BY Marianne Wilson

Adidas has opened its largest Adidas Originals location to date, a 4,966-sq.-ft. flagship in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago.

The new outpost, which sits under a section of Chicago’s elevated train system, is designed to reflect its surrounding. It is full of connections to the local creative community, including an original sculpture at the front of the store by Chicago artist POSE, and custom murals created by Tubsz, a South Side native that specializes in calligraffiti (a combination of calligraphy and graffiti.)

Other elements include locally produced art (in the form of layered prints) from a non-profit group that supplies art and curriculum to Chicago Public Schools that have lost their arts funding. The art will be switched out every quarter with another local artist’s work. Because of the partnership with adidas, the group will be able to put art in three schools in the next few weeks

The flagship store also has an “L” train inspired dressing room, complete with a bench styled after those at city CTA stations. Other dressing rooms were inspired by some of the Adidas Original shoes. And there is a community wall where customers can share information about upcoming events.

“The adidas Originals flagship store in Chicago shows our ongoing commitment to exploring new and innovative ways to be part of the local community,” said Pascha Naderi-Nejad, senior brand director Adidas Originals. “Now our largest adidas Originals store in the world, everything about it exemplifies how we partner with creators who have shared values and an ability to push the bounds of creativity.”

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Go Green, Not Red, this Holiday Season

The holiday shopping season is upon us. For retailers, these last three months of the year signify a marathon of competitive sales strategies to increase foot traffic and maximize profits.

According to the National Retail Federation, the holiday season can represent as much as 30% of annual sales. To adapt to shifting consumer trends and meet peak season demands, stores plan to increase both hours of operation and staff onsite.

Retailers such as Gap and Target have already scheduled hiring events across stores nationwide. In 2016, seasonal retail employment increased by 641,000 from October through December to support extended store hours. Many stores even stay open non-stop for the last few days before the holiday.

By focusing on sales strategies to capture the largest share of consumers, retailers often overlook the costs required to do so — because as store hours and foot traffic increase across retail sites, so do waste volumes and energy consumption.

Retailers spend over $21 billion per year on energy, a large portion of which hits during peak shopping season — and over $3 billion of these expenditures could be avoided through efficiency measures.

By planning early and creating a pre-holiday checklist to manage these cost areas, retailers can ensure a happy holiday season for businesses and consumers alike. Retailers can follow the following five strategies to minimize energy and waste costs.

1. Big data brings big savings. Before the holiday season begins, retailers should have established benchmarks for both energy usage and waste volumes to efficiently adjust for increases. Utilities can help retailers assess energy usage and provide recommendations for low cost efficiency measures and connected equipment.

As more equipment, including thermostats, lighting controls and machine sensors, come online and provide constant streams of data, retailers gain a more transparent view of energy usage and opportunities for significant reductions.

Additionally, for waste, retailers who have their own, individual waste services should be familiar with typical waste volumes to prepare for increases. If dumpsters are regularly filled pre-holidays, these retailers should temporarily increase service levels with their haulers before the holidays to avoid unsightly pileups and extra fines.

2. Turn that thermometer down. Retailers go out of their way to accommodate customers and create an optimal environment to make the hectic shopping experience a little more enjoyable. Busy shoppers, however, are unlikely to notice minimal heating or cooling changes that bring in big savings. Turning the thermostat down or up by just one degree across various sites can save millions of dollars.

If you have a control system, ensure that your set-points and schedules are adjusted to reflect the holiday hours. Relying on staff at each location to adjust them leaves room for error and you run the risk of having your assets on 24×7.

3. Go green on holiday displays. With increasing competition to stage elaborate window displays, retailers often underestimate the costs and requirements of additional plug loads to power holiday lighting and special effects around the clock. To mitigate the stress on existing power sources within stores, retailers should seek out energy efficient power products from online marketplaces run by utilities and local suppliers.

4. Maintenance comes first. Retailers should make sure all assets – lighting controls, heating and cooling systems, or refrigeration – are running optimally prior to peak season. Ensuring planned maintenance is completed and that all assets are commissioned correctly will reduce the chance for unplanned downtime on critical operational assets. Having an air handling unit with a damper stuck open wastes energy and is an unnecessary distraction for store managers during the most critical time of year.

5. Embrace waste year-round. Most of retail waste is recyclable. For many retailers, the holidays correspond to moving more products, creating more packaging and consequently increasing waste volumes. This influx of waste is accompanied by longer hours and more people, which means less time and space to collect it. The biggest mistake retailers make is assuming that their recycling programs are functioning well and that employees are separating materials properly. Many companies start a waste or recycling program, train their employees once, and never touch it again. But, these programs need constant attention.

Creating well-founded recycling and waste reduction programs year-round is the foundation to a greener holiday. This includes proper bin placement, ongoing employee training and clear signage for disposal locations within the store to enable new employees, and distracted employees, to maintain existing recycling programs.

From resetting HVAC controls to adjusting waste and recycling services to account for more inventory, retailers can better prepare for their busiest season through data and best practices. Last year, holiday retail sales increased 4%in 2015 to $658.3 billion. To ensure strong profits this year, retailers must not only adapt to consumer demands, but also increase their efforts to reduce energy costs, improve waste programs and be more sustainable. This will decrease overhead and ensure a greener and more profitable holiday season.


Jamie Daubenspeck is director of facility technology, Ecova and Kristin Kinder is manager of waste solutions, Ecova.

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Moody’s: No letup in sight to off-price growth

BY Marianne Wilson

Off-price retailers will remain among the top performers in the U.S. retail industry during the next 12 to 18 months.

That’s according to a new report from Moody’s Investors Service. The outlook is not as positive for department stores, which will continue to struggle as they seek to level the playing field with both off-price and online vendors.

Moody’s expects operating income in the off-price sector to grow 6.9% in 2017 and 5.4% in 2018. Department stores will see operating income decline 9.3% this year and 2.7% in 2018.

“Off-price retailers continue to outperform other sectors of the U.S. retail industry largely because they offer the kind of lower-cost, higher-value products and shopping experience many consumers are looking for,” said Moody’s analyst, Christina Boni. “Off-price stores are far outstripping department stores, which in contrast are still struggling with outmoded formats and supply chains that can’t keep pace with customer demand.”

The report noted that department stores are mostly taking the right steps to resurrect their businesses, but it’s too early yet to know how well they’ll succeed. In particular, department stores been exploring new ways to drive traffic through e-commerce offerings and partnerships to spur growth. While Kohl’s Corp. has its own online platform, for example, in addition it offers Amazon products at 10 of its stores and accepts Amazon returns at 82 of its locations.

Despite their lack of e-commerce penetration, off-price retailers have succeeded where department stores have foundered due to their focus on delivering major label brands at significant discounts to value-hungry consumers, Moody’s said. Off-price vendors also outperform the broader universe of U.S. apparel-focused retailers.

While apparel sales make up the bulk of their sales, off-price retailers have been increasing their product mix in the higher-growth and less competitive home products category. Moody’s estimates that home product sales at off-price stores grew 9.9% in 2016, compared with 7.8% for the off-price sectors overall growth.

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