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STORE SPACES

Old Navy launches in-store pickup; rolls out new store experience

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Gap’s value apparel brand is getting online orders into its shoppers’ hands faster. It’s also updating the look of its stores.

Old Navy has launched a buy online, pickup in-store service at all stores nationwide. After placing an order, customers have seven days to visit the store to pick up their purchase at a specially designated kiosk, according to a Gap Inc.  blog.

The new service coincides with the rollout of Old Navy’s new store concept. The design, which is being featured in newly renovated stores, provides for a bright and airy space, with modern and simple finishes that put a spotlight on the merchandise. The mood is fun and friendly-friendly — there is even a hopscotch board on the floor.

By the end of 2018, Old Navy will have completed an 18-month project to completely remodel 300 stores.

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Oprah’s newest bet is a restaurant chain with ambitious expansion plans

BY Marianne Wilson

Oprah Winfrey is expanding her food empire with an investment in a restaurant chain that specializes in healthy eating and drinking.

Winfrey has made an equity investment in True Food Kitchen. The terms of the deal were not revealed. Winfrey is joining the restaurant’s board and will “collaborate and consult” with its leadership team and “extend her strategic insight” to support the brand’s national expansion.

True Food Kitchen has a health-driven menu of seasonal dishes and natural beverages. It operates 23 restaurants in 10 states, with plans to double its store count during the next three years. Key focus areas include new markets in New York, New Jersey and North Carolina. It is set to open two new locations in the coming months, in Nashville, Tennessee and Jacksonville, Florida.

The company was founded in by physician Dr. Andrew Weil, director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, with the menu inspired by “anti-inflammatory” diet. The menu offers sustainable, local and organic meals, including vegan and vegetarian options. Private equity firm Centerbridge is True Food Kitchen’s controlling shareholder.

“When Ms. Winfrey and I first sat down to discuss her potential investment, I was impressed by her genuine passion for the intention behind True Food,” said Christine Barone, CEO, True Food Kitchen. “My hope is that her passion and investment will continue to develop our growing brand to allow even more guests to experience a better way of eating.”

In 2015, Winfrey bought an approximate 10% stake in Weight Watchers, and received a seat on the board. She also has a partnership with Kraft Heinz Company for a line of prepared foods sold at supermarkets.

In a statement, Winfrey said she sought out Barone after dining at the chain with her friend and health expert, Bob Greene.

“I love bringing people together over a good meal,” Winfrey stated. “When I first dined at True Food Kitchen, I was so impressed with the team’s passion for healthy eating and, of course, the delicious food, that I knew I wanted to be part of the company’s future.”

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Deloitte: The top destination for back-to-school shopping is…

BY Marianne Wilson

Consumers prefer to shop in brick-and-mortar when it comes to the second-biggest shopping season of the year.

Mass merchant stores remain the No. 1 back-to-school shopping destination, drawing 83% of respondents in Deloitte’s annual “Back-to-School” survey, followed by dollar stores (38%), online-only retailers (36%) and off-price stores (32%). (See end of article for the top 10 shopping destinations.)

The ascent of price-based retailers continues to squeeze more traditional retailers out of the higher ranks, Deloitte noted. For example, off-price stores jumped from No. 14 in 2016 to No. 4 this year. Department stores fell from the No. 2 position in 2016 to No. 6 in the last two years of the survey.

While people plan to visit price-based retailers more frequently, those who shop at traditional retailers like department stores, home electronics and office supply stores make larger purchases at these locations compared with other venues like mass merchants.

Household spending on clothing, supplies, computers and electronics for children in grades K- 12 is expected to reach $27.6 billion this year, according to the report. Parents plan to spend an average of $510 between July and September, with most of that occurring in stores ($292) – more than double the amount they plan to spend online ($115). However, respondents remain undecided where they’ll put the remaining 20% of their budget – leaving $5.5 billion up for grabs between online and store retailers.

Additionally, the amount parents say their children influence accounts for $21 billion, or 75% of back-to-school dollars.

“Back-to-school shopping tends to be price-focused as parents look for promotions and mass merchants for the best deals,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP, and U.S. retail, wholesale and distribution leader. “But when we look below the surface, we notice several distinctions between high and low-income households and the way people shop for specific items like clothing, technology, and supplies. The potential lesson for retailers is that back-to-school may require them to do more than compete on price alone or try to sell across all categories. Survey results show it may be about delivering the best product or experience to customers in specific categories.”

In other survey findings:

• Back-to-school shopping is expected to peak during late July and early August, and those who begin their shopping before August are expected to spend 20% more than late starters. Nearly seven in 10 (68% ) of shoppers tend to finish their back-to-school shopping within a four-week period, but those who extend their shopping timeframe (sometimes in search of deals) spend more overall.

• The Northeast accounts for the biggest back-to-school spend, at $568 per household. The South has the lowest, at $488.

• Parents’ reliance on tools like laptops and social media may have hit a digital saturation point. Among respondents, 49% plan to use their desktop or laptop to shop, down from 57% last year. Mobile use increased to 53% after trailing desktop/laptop use in 2017.

Parents’ social media use also appears to be decreasing, with 23% saying they plan to use these tools to find promotions, receive coupons and browse products, down from 27% in 2017.

The top 10 destinations for back-to-school shopping are:

1. Mass merchants (83%)
2. Dollar stores (38%
3. Online-only retailers (36%)
4. Off-price stores (32%0
5. Office supply/technology stores (31%)
6. Department stores (27%)
7. Fast-fashion apparel retailers: (26%)
8. Warehouse clubs (20%)
9. Retailer websites (17%)
10. Drug Stores (15%)

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