Wednesday, December 22, 1999

INDUSTRY NOTES: RETAIL


AirTouch puts phones in Parisian

BY LISA BIANK FASIG
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        All retailers are struggling to find a little extra help these nutty days leading to Christmas. At Parisian, the staff is using a little jingle.

        Department managers at the Kenwood Towne Centre department store are sharing more than 20 cell phones from AirTouch Cellular, which each year provides cell phones to an area retailer.

        The goal is to better serve customers by answering questions faster and not having to run all over the store to get answers.

        AirTouch also has installed at Parisian a kiosk on the first floor offering the public free long-distance service for up to five minutes.

        This treat lets customers bone up on sizes and color preferences before making a final purchase. There's also Hotline to Santa for kids on the first and second floors.

        Last year, AirTouch provided the phones to Mitchell's Day Spa. In 1997, the phones went out to a McAlpin's.

Discounters chip away at traditional retail
        Retail sales at discount department stores rose again in the third quarter of 1999, continuing to take market share away from conventional and chain department stores, an industry trade group reports.

        The International Mass Retail Association, in its third-quarter economic trends analysis, said discount department store sales in the period rose to $48.7 billion, a near-11 percent increase compared with the year-ago quarter's total of $44 billion. The figure is 68.6 percent of total department store sales, IMRA reports.

        That compares with a 66.7 percent stake a year ago.

        Seasonally adjusted retail employment growth rose 0.6 percent from the second quarter, while total industry sales in the period rose to $754.8 billion from $738.8 billion.

Old Navy buys warehouse for 2001 Canada start-up
        Old Navy in Canada, eh? Mounties in sports fleece?

        We don't know about the latter, but the former seems to be true. Old Navy, the funky value chain operated by the Gap, has bought a distribution warehouse in Brampton, Ontario, according to Bloomberg Business News. It hopes to use it to supply Canadian stores by 2001.

        The chain plans to take advantage of Canada's value-conscious market, whose average income in 1997 was roughly $18,750 a year ($27,660 Canadian), vs. $37,005 for the U.S. market, based on the most recent U.S. Census figures.

        Old Navy, known for its campy, pop-culture ads, is looking only in the Toronto area for the time being.

LenCrafters again on best-to-work-for list
        LensCrafters has again made Fortune magazine's 100 Best Companies to Work for in America edition.

        The Sycamore Township eyeglass retailer ranked 82nd in the 1999 edition, expected out Jan. 10. In 1998, LensCrafters ranked 61.

        Other Ohio companies that made the list were Smuckers of Orrville (22) and Third Federal Savings and Loan of Cleveland (46) .

        Fortune examined 236 companies for its annual issue, compared with 206 last year.

Online store of the week
        Not sure whether platform shoes and baby doll dresses are in or, like, sooo 1998? Check out www.SecretWish.com, a gift registry for teens and tweens.

        The month-old site includes hot items teen and tween. Kids log on, create a wish list and then let their parents in on it. Easy.

       



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TRISTATE BUSINESS SUMMARY
- INDUSTRY NOTES: RETAIL
PEOPLE ON THE MOVE
TRISTATE MARKET SPOTLIGHT