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News Briefs

  • 4/5/2023

    Mastercard: Retail sales up 4.7% year-over-year in March

    millennial shoppers

    Consumers continue to prioritize experiences and essentials in their spending. 

    U.S. retail sales increased 4.7% year-over-year in March, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales, excluding automotive, across all forms of payment. (The metric reflects nominal spending and is not adjusted for inflation.)

    At a national level, nominal spending growth was down slightly compared to February, which saw a 6.9% year-over-year increase. Spending trends in March, however, were consistent with those experienced earlier this year.

    In other March results, e-commerce sales were up 13.0% year-over-year, while in-store sales rose 2.8%. Restaurant sales grew 11.6% and grocery sales rose 5.6%.

    The home improvement, home furniture/furnishings and electronics sectors continued to experience a dip in year-over-year growth as consumers prioritized experiences and essentials, noted Mastercard.

    “There are a number of factors influencing how today’s consumer is shopping including inflation, the labor market, food and gas prices, and the path of interest rates,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Incorporated. “But they’re still spending -- we’re seeing varied growth sector by sector, with purchases largely shifting to necessities and experiences.”

  • 4/5/2023

    Shoe City liquidating; Gordon Brothers to sell store leases

    out of business

    Esco Ltd. (doing business as Shoe City) has filed for bankruptcy.

    The Baltimore-based athletic footwear and apparel chain, which has been in business for more than 70 years, operates 39 stores throughout Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. The company filed for Chapter 11 reorganization on March 31, and the bankruptcy court authorized going-out-of-business sales.

    Gordon Brothers announced it will sell retail leases and operate going-out-of-business sales at all 39 Shoe City locations. The stores range in size from 2,000 to 9,900 sq. ft., and include street front, regional mall and strip center sites.

    “These leases offer a fantastic opportunity for retailers looking to expand their footprint,” said James Avallone, senior managing director, real estate at Gordon Brothers. “The stores offer high-traffic locations with attractive co-tenancy and favorable lease terms with options.”

    Beginning April 6, storewide price reductions go into effect at all store locations with up to 30% off original prices on the entire stock of athletic footwear and apparel, including new arrivals and highly sought-after brands.

    Additionally, store fixtures are available for purchase throughout the going-out-of-business sales.

    For additional details, including lease sale deadlines and lease terms for individual locations, contact James Avallone at [email protected] or Sharon Haggard at [email protected].

  • 4/2/2023

    H&M Beauty to debut its first-ever ‘flagship’

    H&M beauty

    H&M is diving deeper into beauty.

    The global fast-fashion giant will open its first two beauty “flagships,” in Oslo, Norway. The first H&M Beauty will open on April 5, at Karl Johans gate 14. The second will open on May 25, in Oslo City shopping center.

    Approximately 3,230 sq. ft. each, the two H&M Beauty shops are located within existing H&M locations, and will have direct access from the street. The merchandise mix will include a wide selection of H&M’s private-label beauty products along with more than 80 Scandinavian and other external brands.

    H&M Beauty has been created to give customers an elevated store experience, and will include beauty bars and dedicated beauty advisers. The design mixes cocktail bar and spa-like aesthetics, offering a social scene as well as opportunities for self-care and wellness.

    The two new shops are the start of H&M Beauty's journey with the goal of creating both a physical and digital beauty universe where the customer can be inspired and buy their entire look, the company said. 

    “We are very happy that we can now offer our customers a well-curated beauty assortment that goes hand-in-hand with the fashion we offer,” said Catherine Wigzell, general manager, H&M Beauty.

    “Our goal is to inspire every customer who enters an H&M store, or who shops online at, to leave with a complete look across fashion and beauty.”

    In March, H&M entered its 77th market with the opening of a store in Albania. As of March 30, the company had a total of 4, 414 stores around the globe.

  • 3/27/2023

    BTS to open pop-up store in New York City

    BTS Pop-Up

    BTS fans in the New York area will soon be able to immerse themselves in the brand.

    The iconic South Korean boyband, whose seven members are global pop icons, will open a pop-up at The Shops & Restaurants at Hudson Yards, located on the West Side of Manhattan. 

    The store, called BTS POP-UP: Space of BTS, will open in late April. Billed as the first “official” BTS store in the United States, the space will be open for three months.  Anticipating high first-day crowds, doors will open two hours before and one hour after traditional mall hours on opening day.

    The store will carry a wide variety of BTS merchandise, including stationery, apparel, homeware and fashion items, and will offer numerous interactive photo opportunities.  Due to the high demand for merchandise, products will be sold until supplies last and have limited restock, according to a release.

    In August 2022, BTS Pop-Up opened a temporary store at Toronto Eaton Centre, in downtown Toronto. The location remained open through December.

    Previous BTS pop-up stores have opened around the world, with multiple store locations throughout South Korea.  

  • 3/27/2023

    Belk expanding its outlet store concept — here are the locations

    BELK outlet interior

    For the first time in its 135-year history, Belk is expanding in the outlet space.

    The department store retailer is opening five Belk Outlet locations within the next seven days. Belk debuted the concept at the start of 2023, converting its store in Greeneville, Tenn., into the first-ever Belk Outlet. The feedback from customers was overwhelmingly positive, according to the company.

    Here are the locations of the five new Belk Outlet stores:

    • 911 E Main Street, Laurens, S.C. (opening 3/30);
    • 19 Claypool Hill Mall, Cedar Bluff, Va.  (opening 3/30);
    • 3093 East Main Street, Suite B, Russellville, Ark. (opening 3/30);
    • 2801 Wilma Rudolph Blvd, Clarksville, Tenn. (opening 4/4); and
    • 6640 Douglas Blvd., Douglasville, Ga. (opening 4/4).

    Belk Outlet stores will include discounted items that come directly from the retailer’s larger stores across its footprint and customers will have access to many new items, including high-end and designer brands that these locations may not have carried in the past.

    Based in Charlotte, N.C., the privately-owned Belk operates nearly 300 stores in 16 Southeastern states. In September 2022, the company named Don Hendricks as CEO. He had been serving in the role on an interim basis since May 2022, following the resignation of Nir Patel, who left to join GameStop.

  • 3/27/2023

    Banana Republic enters new product category

    Banana Republic

    Banana Republic is following in the footsteps of its sister brand, Gap.

    The retailer, a division of Gap Inc., has launched BR Home, an upscale home goods collection with bedding, décor and rugs. Available online and in select Banana Republic U.S. stores as of March 28, BR prices range from $80 for plush decorative pillows to $6,500 for luxurious, handwoven rugs made in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. 

    “Our expanded home collection is central to our vision to be the premier lifestyle brand that positions BR as an experiential and cultural cornerstone in our customers’ lives,” said Sandra Stangl, president and CEO of Banana Republic. “Banana Republic is a destination for discovery, adventure and imagination.”  

    The products in the collection, which is exclusively created and curated by Banana Republic, are made of the highest-quality materials and natural fabrics, such as fine European linen, plush cotton cashmere and organic cotton, the company stated.  

    “Discovery and self-expression are an integral part of our customers’ lives at home, work and away,” said Aaron Rose, head of commerce and experience for Banana Republic. “We know our customers care deeply about great style, design, and quality in all aspects of their lives, and we are excited for BR Home to be a central part of their personal lifestyle.”   

    BR Home builds on last fall’s launch of Art, Curated by Banana Republic, a collection of exclusive works from artists and photographers. 

    In May 2021, the Gap brand teamed up with Walmart to launch a line of home goods, Gap Home, sold exclusively by the retail giant. In May 2022, the two retailers expanded the partnership to launch Gap Home Kids.

    [Read More: Walmart expands home partnership with Gap Inc.]

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