Wednesday, September 20, 2000

Industry notes: Retail

By Lisa Biank Fasig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Discount store sales up 10.2 %

        As long as they keep selling designer-brand towels at less than $5 a pop, discount stores will keep capturing the wallets of American consumers, or so it seems.

        The International Mass Retail Association, in its second-quarter economic trends analysis, said discount department store sales rose 10.2 percent from the same period in 1999. That means shoppers continue to eschew traditional department stores and their perceived cachet for value retail.

        For years, the mass merchandise and discount sector have reported market increases that indicate the segments are stealing customers from traditional stores. Now some of these chains — think of Target — are capitalizing on service, traditionally the domain of department stores.

        In the second quarter, discount sales rose to $53.8 billion, representing 70.1 percent of total department store sales. That compares with discount sales of almost $48.9 billion in second-quarter 1999 — 68.2 percent of total sales in the quarter, IMRA said.

        Seasonally adjusted retail employment growth rose 0.6 percent from the first to second quarter this year, to more than 23 million.

Crafts store coming to Bigg's Place

        Hobby Lobby Creative Center will open Sept. 25 at Bigg's Place, the Eastgate shopping center that is converting to an outdoor mall.

        The hobby and craft store is a new anchor at the 16-year-old mall, whose renovation should be complete in January. Bigg's is an existing tenant.

        Hobby Lobby will employ 55 to 60 people at the 55,000-square-foot store. It is the seventh store in Ohio and the third in Greater Cincinnati. The others are in Deerfield Township and Hamilton.

        Bigg's Place operators said they approved the mall renovation in order to revive visitor numbers and to stay competitive.

Penn Station on top franchises list

        Must be the fries: October's Success magazine ranks Cincinnati-based Penn Station East Coast Subs No. 14 of its top 200 U.S. franchise systems.

        The special edition, which usually highlights the top 100, is in its 10th year. This year, Success increased the ranking to 200 because of the growing number and popularity of franchise systems.

        Penn Station operates more than 30 stores in Greater Cincinnati.

Nordstrom shake-up puts family at helm

        More upper-management changes are occurring at Nordstrom in the wake of a corporate shake-up that put family members back at the helm. In early September, the Seattle retailer's board ousted chairman and chief executive John Whitacre, partly because he failed to boost sales. They elected in his place Blake Nordstrom, 39, as CEO, and dad Bruce Nordstrom, as chairman.

        Now last week Pete Nordstrom, 38 and brother of Blake, was appointed president of department stores. He replaced Marty Wikstrom, who resigned Sept. 8.

Online store of the week

        Following a nationwide search for time-proven, innovative toys, Haystack Toys, a startup in St. Louis, today plans to launch online the results of its first Great American Toy Hunt. includes “needles in the haystack toys that are so ingenious and involving they withstand the test of time.” Toys will be available for purchase online and FAO Schwarz is said to pick up the line at its stores.

        The site also will include: the “Inventor Coach,” which helps move a toy idea from concept to reality; and the “Parents PlayGroup,” where parents and caregivers join to enhance the play experience.


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Trade with China will take a long time
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Natural gas choices dwindle
CG&E: Gas choice program differs from Ohio's electric selection plan
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Papa John's slogan preserved in court
World economy outlook good
- Industry notes: Retail
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