Monday, December 31, 2012

StoreIntel Research: Dec 31st Mall Walk

Not all is bad. After an extensive weekend of comp shopping, we feel not all retailers suffered during the holidays. We are confident that there are some clear winners this holiday, though as expected, the lull in between Black Friday and Christmas was challenging for many. Let us walk you through a few names:

  • Gap: At the top of our list, with Old Navy leading the way. We are very impressed with Old Navy this holiday period. As we reported on our mall walk from December 18th, Old Navy was an aggressive player in this space. We observed their inventory levels to be quite low. Multiple locations reported very strong sales from Black Friday through this past Saturday. Comparing the negative comps from December of 2011, The Gap is a clear winner. Any potential markdowns over and above their plans  were offset by top line growth, which in the end will result in positive margin improvement.
  • Abercrombie & Fitch: Another standout. We believe Abercrombie is the leader in the teen space. We see excellent sell-throughs in the cold weather categories, with outerwear leading the way. Hollister is going to give American Eagle a strong run as the top performer in the category. We noticed both American Eagle and Abercrombie holding strong with controlled promotions, and we see possible significant gross margin improvement. The new floor sets we viewed in Florida and the New York area , at both, Hollister and Abercrombie, were outstanding. If these small capsule presentations are any indication of the product to come, we feel both Abercrombie and Hollister are poised for an exceptional start to the spring 2013 season.
  • JC Penney: We are not in the camp that feels JCP made improvements during the holiday season. Recent news has been relatively favorable, but we feel quite differently. The product seems uninspired. We have heard of many merchandising changes at JCP corporate which leads us to assume all is not well. We would not be surprised if their dramatic comp decreases continue in the 20+ range. The product needs to improve with their private label business, particularly in Worthington brand offering in women's.
We will update again on January 2 with our views on TJX, Ross Stores, and Kohl's, as well as providing holiday comps for roughly 40 chains.

Wishing all a very happy, healthy and productive 2013!

New Year's Retail Reads

  • Survey says Amazon most satisfying website to shop (Reuters)
  • How Brands Use The Psychology Of Color To Manipulate You (Business Insider)
  • Return to the City: Renewal of Inner City Retail Stores (Forbes)
  • Changes in store in 2012: The year in retail and the evolving way we shop (LA Times)
  • Gift returns expected to jump 37% to $63 billion this holiday season (CNBC)
  • How Warby Parker's Reinventing Retail (Inc)
  • Retailers Take On the Risk of Same-Day Shipping (NY Times)
  • The FreshDirect approach to keeping deliveries like clockwork (BBC)
  • As Offline Retail Dies, Commercial Real Estate Apocalypse Looms (Consumerist)
  • Christmas Day online retail traffic increased 27% (Experian)
  • 10 Big Retail Trends from the 2012 Holiday Shopping Season (Time)
  • Retailers are loading up inboxes with personalized e-mail messages (Star Tribune)
  • Why Amazon Is Not A Commerce Company (TechCrunch)
  • Retail Workers Bear Brunt Of Sluggish Holiday Sales (NPR)
  • Infographic: Customers’ Purchase History Helps Marketers Zero In on Best Prospects (Yahoo!)
  • It's Do Or Die For These Four Retailers (WSJ)
  • Grocery stores starting to focus on guys (St Louis Post-Dispatch)
  • When Christmas Brings Retailers Many Unhappy Returns (Businessweek)
  • Rethinking an American icon: The shopping mall (CBS News)
  • Will retailers rebound after weak holiday season? (AP)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Post-Christmas Retail Reading List

Whether we blame Superstorm Sandy or fears of a 'fiscal cliff', it seems retailers are not having a very merry Christmas so far. There's still (a sliver) of hope as Washington has a few days left to act, and post-Christmas spending typically accounts for roughly 15% of seasonal spending - gift-card revenue is not recorded until redemption.

With that being said, relatively lean inventories, lower cotton costs and controlled promotions will help bolster margins - we will get a clearer picture as 50 or so chains report November-December results early in the new year.
  • U.S. holiday retail sales growth weakest since 2008 (AP) and U.S. Holiday Sales Rise 0.7% as Washington Hurts Confidence (Bloomberg) and Retail sales creep higher in weak holiday season (Reuters) and Early Data Show Weak Holiday Sales (WSJ)
  • E-commerce spending up 16% to $38.7 billion for first 51 days of holiday shopping season (comScore)
  • Surging yes, but mobile shopping still has a long way to go (Fortune)
  • Why Shopping at Malls Is on the Decline (AllThingsD)
  • Warby Parker Wants To Destroy $20 Billion Company With An Eyewear Monopoly (Business Insider)
  • Retailers Try to Adapt to Device-Hopping Shoppers (NY Times)
  • Showrooming little threat to brand-name clothiers in ho-hum holidays (Reuters)
  • Catalogs find niche as online shopping tool (Pocono Record)
  • How Data Analysis Helps H.Bloom Improve Flower Delivery (Businessweek)
  • Websites Vary Prices, Deals Based on Users' Information (WSJ)
  • What Really Goes On Inside An Apple Retail Store (Gizmodo)
  • How U.S. retailers are building up their online muscle (Chicago Tribune)
  • How Polyvore's Stylish Social Commerce Is Cracking Retail 3.0 (Forbes)
  • Amazon, Google on collision course in 2013 (Reuters)
  • US airports trade layover horror for 'terminal bliss' with high-end shopping & dining (Star Tribune)
  • Pawn shops enter holiday-shopping fray (MarketWatch)
  • E-gifts turn social as "the next big thing" in digital commerce (NY Post)
  • Dragging Fashion Wholesalers Into the Digital Age (Businessweek)

Friday, December 21, 2012

StoreIntel Research: Dec 18th Mall Walk

We had an intensive mall walk on December 18th, and found some very encouraging signs that business at retail is actually improving. While the street is feeling a lot of negativity towards the holiday season in general, we are contrarians to this theory. We focused our energy on the following retailers:

  • Old Navy and The Gap - Our multiple store visits resulted in a very positive feeling towards both of these chains. Old Navy promoted at 30% off last weekend, which in certain locations was a resounding success. Many of the people we spoke with commented that promotions ahead of Christmas pulled in a tremendous amount of business. In fact, at certain locations, but not all, Old Navy said the weekend in total was a larger volume weekend than Black Friday! We also focused our attention towards cold weather product at both The Gap and Old Navy, and in our opinion felt there was very little liability. Gap moved from price point promotions 2 weeks ago to a more aggressive model of running the entire store at up to 50% off. Their inventory was clean, product was trend right and we are very excited about their business.
  • Aeropostale - This was the single most disappointing name. Lack of fashion, too many basics in categories such as logo t’s and hoodies gives the appearance of a tired retailer. Many of the stores commented on the lack of fashion items, which when in stock are selling quite well. In fact, at some of their "A" locations we were surprised by the lack of newness. The question is then, did the store allocators not execute the correct flow of newness in their highest volume stores. Stay tuned...
  • Abercrombie & Fitch - At both Hollister and Abercrombie, we felt inventories were in a good place - not much clearance in either store, and best in class as far as fashion and newness. We are looking forward to seeing their spring collection next both stores.
  • American Eagle Outfitters - Very strong overall - 40% off with the exception of jeans shows strength in their business. Fashion items delivered this week are quite strong, and we love the merchandising displays which entice multiple sales in many different product categories.
  • Kohl's - We are impressed with the pace of business witnessed at multiple store locations, and we don't see any inventory issues as it relates to cold-weather product. Knowing the importance of this coming weekend, we are looking for strong results. Coming off a weak November, we think a strong comeback is a good possibility.

Friday's Big Retail Reading List

  • The 20 Biggest Brand Fails of 2012 (Adweek)
  • 61% of Retail Managers Report Consumers Better Informed than Associates (Motorola)
  • Custom Orders Build Retailers' Brand Loyalty (NPR)
  • In Stunning Twist, Best Buy's Digital Savior Resigns After 9 Months On The Job (Business Insider)
  • Why big data means big business for online retailers (Guardian)
  • 45% of Social Networkers Engage With Brands Online (Mashable)
  • Why Macy's is spending $400 million to renovate its iconic flagship store (CNN Money)
  • Lessons for luxury retail in an e-commerce boom (Quartz)
  • US retail e-commerce spending up 13% to $35 billion for first 46 days of holiday shopping season (comScore)
  • U.S. men take holiday shopping to the edge (Reuters)
  • Why Online Retailers' New Pricing Strategy Will Backfire (HBR)
  • Finally, an online retailer with something for everyone (Fortune)
  • Food Retailers Leveraging 'Economics Of Experience' (MarketingDaily)
  • Retail's Worst Enemy: Their Own Employees? (Fox Business)
  • Google’s Head of Shopping Says Company Has No Plans to Become a Retailer (AllThingsD)
  • See What The Store Of The Future Will Look Like (Business Insider)
  • It's all-hands-on-deck for final retail push (Seattle Times)
  • Wal-Mart 'Likes' Facebook, at Least During the Holidays (Businessweek)
  • Technology paves way for experiential shopping: are retailers ready? (Guardian)
  • Slow growth offline, fear of Amazon drives retail deals (Reuters)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mid-Week Reading List

  • Once Proudly Web Only, Online Retailers Opening Brick-and-Mortar Stores (NY Times) and The Future of Shopping Is the Past (The Atlantic)
  • Startup lets landlords rent out their empty space to temporary stores (VentureBeat)
  • How Saks is creating a truly omnichannel shopping experience (
  • Stores won’t rest till you've bought your gifts (MarketWatch)
  • Inside the Mind of the Alcoholic Beverage Consumer (Nielsen)
  • Amongst Promises of a Perfect Fit, What Fits and What Doesn’t? (Business of Fashion)
  • Big-Box Chains Ramp Up The Beauty Wars (POPAI)
  • A Look Inside the Blue Nile Jewelry Factory During the Busiest Time of Year (AllThingsD)
  • Top-Tier Malls Get Facelift to Pull In Shoppers (WSJ)
  • Technology investment has been key to Nordstrom's success (Barron's)
  • Gift-card sales to hit $110 billion in U.S. this holiday season (ICSC)
  • When Facebook users hit 'like,' stores jump into action (AP)
  • Bouncing holiday prices have buyers reeling (Boston Globe)
  • Report Shows Investor Optimism in Retail Real Estate, Especially National Regional Malls (PWC)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tuesday Retail Reading List

  • High-Tech Clothing Store Has Figured Out How To Make Men Like Shopping (Economist)
  • Stores Seeking Shoppers Find E-Mail Outdraws Facebook (Bloomberg)
  • Nordstrom prepares to bring its luxury brand north of the border (Globe and Mail) and Why Nordstrom considers Amazon its biggest rival (Reuters)
  • Q3 2012 Global Retail Real Estate Report (CBRE)
  • E-Commerce Darling Fab Has Its Sights on Bricks and Mortar (Wired)
  • Retailers adopting innovative robotic technology to improve warehouse logistics (BBC)
  • How the Bar Code Took Over the World (Businessweek)
  • Christmas shopping: Did retail season already go over the 'fiscal cliff'? (Christian Science Monitor)
  • America's disappearing restaurant chains (NBC News)
  • Amazon, Advertising's Sleeping Giant, to Awaken in 2013 (Adweek)
  • The Bribery Aisle: How Wal-Mart Used Payoffs to Get Its Way in Mexico (NY Times)
  • Retailers add entertainment to attract shoppers (LA Times)
  • Is Now the Right Time for a Neiman Marcus IPO? (Fortune)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Retail Reads to Start Your Week

  • The revival of the upscale department store (The Globe and Mail)
  • US e-commerce spending up 13% to $33.8 billion for first 44 days of holiday shopping season (comScore)
  • Why stores are finally turning on to WiFi (Fortune)
  • Foreign chains seek retail therapy in Australia (Reuters)
  • What’s a Store For? Barneys Remakes Itself for the 'New' New York (NY Times)
  • How Retail Has Radically Changed in the Last Decade (PSFK)
  • Digital luxury experience 2012: From customer experience to impact (McKinsey & Co)
  • Retailers gamble on same-day delivery (USA Today)
  • Facebook's Future Rests on Lessons From Wal-Mart Campaign (AllThingsD)
  • Demand for Ugg Boots has stalled, but is there a second act for once high-flying Deckers? (Businessweek)
  • A different kind of Black Friday coming for physical retailers (Fortune)
  • For Customer Experience, "Just OK" Is Not OK (Fast Company)
  • Five Trends Driving Traditional Retail Towards Extinction (Forbes)

U.S. Online Holiday Season Spending (comScore)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thursday Retail & Consumer Reads

  • Black Friday, Cyber Monday and...Camo Thursday? Black Friday success prompts retail name game (USA Today)
  • Best Buy founder expected to make buyback bid this week (Reuters)
  • The 'Prime' Reason Why Amazon's Sales May Be Falling Behind This Holiday (AllThingsD)
  • Infographic: The Social Commerce IQ Rankings of Top Retailers & Brands (8thBridge)
  • Chinese Shoppers Overtake U.S. as Top Luxury Buyers (FT)
  • Walmart Has An Aggressive Strategy To Do E-Commerce Right, And Amazon Should Watch Out (Business Insider) and Amazon in the cross-hairs as eBay transforms from 'disruptee' to 'disruptor' (Robin Report)
  • Why Big Data Is All Retailers Want for Christmas (Forbes)
  • Restoration Hardware makes showrooming model, not menace (MarketWatch)
  • Brands Doing Societal Good Drive More Purchases, Recommendations (eMarketer)
  • Multichannel Attribution: Measuring Marketing ROI in the Digital Era (Accenture)
  • How Department Stores Changed Retail With Hands-On Shopping (NPR)
  • Infographic: Which Retailers Deliver The Best Mobile Shopping Experiences? (Mobiquity)
  • Torn between loyalty and a bargain (FT)
  • The Most-Loved Retail Brands Right Now (Forbes)

Apple Store vs Microsoft Store (CNN Money)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tuesday's Big Retail Reading List

  • Holiday Shopping Takes Off at Airports (NY Times)
  • Best Buy Can't Match Amazon's Prices, and Shouldn't Try (HBR)
  • US e-commerce spending up 13% to nearly $27 billion for first 37 days of holiday shopping season (comScore)
  • A Focus on Digital Makes Burberry Relevant to a New Generation (AdAge)
  • Shopping in the ever-expanding lap of luxury (Star Tribune)
  • Social Media Is Completely Changing How Big Brands Make Their Products (Business Insider)
  • Five Years In And Profitable, Gilt Refocuses On New Leadership, An IPO In 2013 And More (TechCrunch)
  • Brands Test Digital Ad Targeting at the Store Shelf (Adweek)
  • How old school bookstore The Strand continues to thrive in New York City (CNN Money)
  • Forget The Register: Stores Use Mobile To Make Sales On The Spot (NPR)
  • As offline / retail prominence grows, a renewed focus on customer service for PayPal (Engadget)
  • As you browse, somebody's watching you...they know who you are, and what you're shopping for (WSJ)
  • JC Penney's Ron Johnson is 'Newsmaker of the Year' (WWD)
  • Holiday retail hiring could break record set 12 years ago (LA Times)
  • Target CMO explains what it takes to build a meaningful multichannel experience for their customers (McKinsey & Co)
  • 5 retailers shaping up to be holiday losers (MarketWatch)
  • Canadian retailers brace for Target's cheap chic (Reuters)
  • The Sweet Smell of Christmas Commerce: How carefully chosen scents can put you in the buying spirit (Pacific Standard)
  • Interview with Best Buy VP on the impact of mobile on retail (Guardian)
  • Get Ready For a New Era of E-Commerce In 2013: Instant Gratification (AdAge)

Monday, December 10, 2012

StoreIntel Research: Roosevelt Field Mall Walk December 2012

We shopped the new prototype at Roosevelt Field. The new prototype was well-executed from a visual standpoint; however, we have reservations on its limited ability to drive incremental volume (sales per sq. foot). The new vestibule style frontage, limits their ability to make window presentations, creates approximately 150 sq. feet of under-productive floor space and reduces its ability to drive customers through its "power alley" (core presentations of highest volume items). The fixture packages were not as high-density as they should be and creates an overstock situation on the selling floor which in turn makes the stores less shopping friendly and creates sloppy presentations. The new prototype does have several advantages which creates personal connection with the customer similar to Lululemon, it is utilizing chalkboards with personal messages from store associates about the community. In addition, the new layout enhances their ability to make stronger denim presentations which we feel has been a key initiative for several years) and elevates the aesthetic of the brand.

Key Marketing Messages & Window Displays: Girl's Tops 50% off, Donations for local victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Power table: Girls tops 50% off. Thin sequin thermals. We noticed a move to widen the age divide between AE and AERO. Colored denim front focus wall is a bit too spring transitional in our opinion which they are promoting at 50% off.

Assortment Analysis: We were uninspired with AERO’s holiday offering as it continued to miss key trends interpreted for its core customer. We felt Aero was missing too many key trends such as printed jeans, Aztec/Navaho prints, winter shorts, metallic intertwines in the sweater our opinion AERO poorly executed the woven category in plaids for men and women. The assortment was more balanced than in the past; however, we believe that it has shifted dollars from highly productive classifications such as hoodies, graphics to lower productivity categories such as denim and outerwear. This was being done for the sake of having a more balanced assortment. We believe AERO is having difficulty executing on several fronts and could stand to refocus the assortment on higher volume items .The color palette in many top categories missed trend. Overall, its presentations look disjointed and sloppy as it attempts to cram product onto shelves.

  • Girls' Power Table: Showing women's assorted tops, including sequin thermals @ 50% off.
  • Girl's Front Focus Wall: Plaids and hoodies (50-70% off).
  • Guy's Power Table: Hoodies & Graphic Thermals (50-70% off).
  • Guy's Front Focus Walls: Puffer Jackets and Plaids/Flannels.

Key Callouts: The store was very promotional running 50-70% off. We noticed several shifts in strategy including a reduction of key classifications, an expanded denim presentation and and a very misleading trend to higher IMUs.

  • Graphics Assortment Significantly Reduced: Women's graphics were BOGO 2 free ($24.50 sticker price, or $8.17 a unit). The overall graphic assortment has been significantly reduced with less diversification than in the past. We noticed several of the same graphics in different colors, which with a BOGO 2 free promo, further reduces the number of available graphics. We did applaud it on its utilization of mixed media (screen prints and studs) which we thought looked quite good. Men's graphics (retailing at $12 per) looked stale with very little newness or evolution in the mix. The trend in men's graphics is moving toward increased sophistication and we are not seeing that here.
  • Expanded Denim Presentation: Clear effort to expand denim classification, historically has been a small part of the business. For guys, slim boot, boot, and slim straight were featured and skinny, boot, flare, ultra skinny for girls.
  • IMU Higher: We noticed original retail prices that were higher than American Eagle in some key outerwear and sweater styles; however, these are priced to sell and allows optically for deeper initial markdown percentage. Very misleading and tends to dilute the brand.
  • Spring Transitional Product Pulled Forward: We believe AERO delivered several styles of spring transitional product early in an attempt to stimulate business. Normally, Aero transitions its floorset just before Christmas Eve.

American Eagle Outfitters
Key Marketing Messages & Window Displays: $10 "money" card when you buy any AE gift card. All jeans and sweaters $29.99 up. Windows focused on its "Wishing For" marketing campaign.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mid-Week Retail Reads

  • A Retailer For Free Stuff Hopes To Change How We View Consumerism (FastCo Exist)
  • Luxury's New Destination: Neighborhood Streets Beckon Retailers & Investors (Forbes)
  • How Spanx's Sara Blakely Turned $5,000 into a $1 Billion Global Empire (CNN)
  • Google's Plan to Take Over Holiday Shopping (AdAge)
  • Why smartphones & apps make brick-and-mortar stores more relevant than ever (Mashable)
  • An interactive look at the 50 largest shopping malls in the U.S. (Esri)
  • Playing to the Crowd: How top retailers are harnessing social media, the new "word of mouth" (STORES)
  • Hype Better Than Sales for Target-Neiman Marcus Tie-Up (WSJ)
  • More Large Retailers Ease Customers' Path To Credit Products (NPR)
  • Consumers Defect Brands in Growing Numbers But Majority Say "You Could Have Kept Me," (Accenture)
  • Supervalu Moves Toward Sale of Albertsons & Save-A-Lot (Bloomberg)
  • 2013 National Retail Real Estate Outlook (Jones Lang LaSalle)
  • Are Holiday Sales Statistics Juiced? How Retail Sales Totals Can Vary By Billions (Time)
  • Tesco's American dream over as ambitious plans for Fresh & Easy falter (The Guardian)
  • Retail CMO's investing more in digital marketing this holiday season (BDO)

Mobile Devices Empower Today’s Shoppers In-Store and Online (Nielsen)

Sales Productivity at U.S. Malls On Pace for All-Time High

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Sales productivity at U.S. malls plunged in 2009 to $372 per square foot, below levels from a decade earlier, but have quickly recovered and are on pace to hit an all-time high of nearly $450 in sales per square foot in 2012.

click below to see giant graphic of 10-year history by store type

Sales Productivity for Non-Anchor Tenants in U.S. Malls

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tuesday Reading List

  • The Future of Brick-and-Mortar Shopping (Newsweek)
  • Manhattan Retail’s Big Renaissance (Commercial Observer)
  • eBay re-imagines itself as the company that can get you anything, anytime, anywhere (Wired)
  • Retailers test new store formats during holidays (Baltimore Sun)
  • The Imminent Mobile Commerce Avalanche (Search Engine Watch)
  • Target + Neiman Marcus And A Lesson In Multichannel Retailing (Forbes)
  • Hotel retail turns trendy to generate ancillary revenue and improve customer loyalty (USA Today)
  • YouTube Pushes Holiday Sales Into Shoppable Video Ads (ClickZ)
  • Where Republicans and Democrats Shop From A(bercrombie) to Z(ales) (Washington Wire)
  • Retail Predictions for 2013: The convergence of all things digital (STORES)
  • Fathers are doing more of the family shopping, and retailers are taking notice (NY Times)
  • Can E-Commerce Keep Magazines Afloat? (Mashable)
  • Why Millennial Shoppers Are Alpha-Influencers (PSFK)
  • Beyond Deals & Discounts: How Retailers Are Luring in Holiday Shoppers (Time)
  • 5 Shipping Secrets of Zappos (Entrepreneur)
  • Brick and mortar retailers tout interactive experiences to differentiate themselves (KC Star)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Retail Reads to Start Your Week

  • Online Retailers Rush to Adjust Prices in Real Time (NY Times)
  • Refreshed Stores, Social-Savvy Ads and Bit of Good Timing Help The Gap Come Back Into Style (AdAge)
  • Build it, and they will come: How the independent bookstore strikes back in the age of Amazon (The Atlantic)
  • Can Spanx Stores Fit Into America's Malls? (Businessweek)
  • The future of retail grocery in a digital world (McKinsey & Co)
  • Only the Strong Survive: Online sales may bring holiday fear for some weaker US malls (Reuters)
  • Meet Everlane, the online clothing brand with the moral compass of a Buddhist monk (NY Mag)
  • Same-Day Delivery Becomes a Costly Web Battleground (WSJ)
  • How Lee Jeans has sustained its brand authenticity since 1889 by stressing value over image, and utility over fashion (Adweek)
  • More mannequins, less clutter at heart of JC Penney turnaround plan (CNBC)
  • Online spending in November jumps 15% to $20.4 billion as 5 individual days eclipse $1 billion in sales (comScore)
  • Thrillist and Jack Threads aiming to blend content & commerce in creating the ultimate digital guide for urban guys (Bloomberg)
  • Clicks Before Bricks: Online-only retailers opening stores to enhance the shopping experience (CNN Money)
  • Study says 1 in 3 U.S. consumers would consider a Wal-Mart mortgage (Chicago Tribune)
  • How Jos. A Bank Makes Money By Selling One Suit And Giving Seven Away For Free (Business Insider)