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Found 12 results

  1. Can Richard Baker reinvent The Bay? MARINA STRAUSS From Monday's Globe and Mail NEW YORK — Richard Baker, the new owner of retailer Hudson's Bay Co.,mingled with the New York fashion elite as the lights dimmed for designer Peter Som's recent show, offering opinions and taking a close look at the latest in skirts and dresses. It's a stark contrast to previous HBC owner Jerry Zucker, who HBC insiders had a hard time picturing with fashionistas in New York. But Mr. Baker, who made his name in real estate, knows it is time for a new approach at the struggling retailer. “As an entrepreneur I'm not necessarily fixated on how things were done in the past,” says Mr. Baker. “We function and we think much more like a specialty retailer rather than a department store retailer. A specialty retailer is much more nimble and willing to adjust to the environment than department stores, historically. Department stores, frankly, haven't changed a whole lot in 100 years.” His Purchase, N.Y.-based equity firm, NRDC Equity Partners, has snapped up a string of dusty retailers, among them HBC's underperforming Bay and Zellers. The Bay operates in the department store sector which is on the wane, squeezed for years by specialty and discount chains. Zellers struggles in a low-priced arena dominated by behemoth Wal-Mart Canada Corp. The need for a makeover is clear: The Bay's sales per square foot are estimated at merely $142, and Zellers', $149 – a fraction of the estimated $480 at Wal-Mart Canada. At Lord & Taylor, which also lags some of its key U.S. rivals in productivity, Mr. Baker has had some success in its efforts to return to its high end Americana roots. But the 47-store chain is feeling the pinch of tight-fisted consumers and, late last month, he unveiled a shakeup at the top ranks of his firm's $8-billion (U.S.) a year retail businesses to try to shave costs. Still, he is pouring money into the chains in other ways, quickly distinguishing himself from Mr. Zucker, who died last spring. While the former owner had named himself CEO despite his lack of merchandising experience, the new owner has handpicked a team of seasoned merchants at the senior levels of his retailers. And while Mr. Zucker shunned publicity and focused on more mundane, although critical, matters, such as technology to track customer demand, Mr. Baker enjoys the limelight. Now he is betting on the fragile fashion sector as an engine of growth. Last fall he set up Creative Design Studios (CDS) to develop designer lines for Lord & Taylor, now, HBC and, eventually, retailers around the world. Mr. Baker is “looking at every one of the properties with a different viewpoint,” says Walter Loeb, a former member of HBC's board of directors and a consultant at Loeb Associates in New York. “He has new ideas. He doesn't want to keep Hudson's Bay in its present form.” Nevertheless, “this team has taken over a not particularly healthy business,” says Marvin Traub, a former executive at Bloomingdale's who runs consultancy Marvin Traub Associates in New York. “They know and understand the challenges. It will take some time to fix them.” What Mr. Baker looks for in retailers is faded brands that have the potential to be revived. Early this year, NRDC acquired Fortunoff, an insolvent jewellery and home décor chain. The synergies among NRDC's various retailers are tremendous, says Gilbert Harrison, chairman of New York investment bank Financo Inc., which advises Mr. Baker. So is the value of the real estate. At HBC, it is estimated to be worth $1.2-billion, according to industry insiders. That's just a little more than the equivalent purchase price of the retailer itself. Lord & Taylor's real estate was valued at $1.7-billion (U.S.) when Mr. Baker acquired the company in 2006 – about $500-million more than he bought it for. “Initially I thought, good luck,” says Mr. Gilbert. “He's bought this in one of the most difficult retail environments that we've seen for 20 or 30 years. … “But he's protected his downside because the basic real estate values of Lord & Taylor and, now Hudson's Bay, certainly help prevent tragedy.” Mr. Baker likes to tell the story of buying Lord & Taylor for its real estate, and then on the way to signing the deal noticed how well the stores were performing. Like most other U.S. retailers, Lord & Taylor has seen business slow down recently. But its transformation to appeal to the well heeled had begun even before Mr. Baker arrived. It had dropped an array of tired brands, such as Tommy Hilfiger and Nautica, and picked up trendier labels, among them Coach and Tracy Reese. Mr. Baker encouraged the strategy of expanding and upgrading higher margin designer handbags and footwear. Ditto for denim wear and funky styles in the women's “contemporary” section under hot labels such as Free People and Diesel. “My job is to understand that we need to get the best brands in the store.” But he also saw the opportunity to bolster margins by stocking affordable lines in the form of CDS brands, with a focus now on Black Brown 1826 men's wear line. “I thought there was a void in the market for exactly the kind of clothes that my friends and I wear, at a right price. Why should we pay $150 for a dress shirt?” he asks, holding up one for $69. Now Mr. Baker wants to borrow a leaf from the Lord & Taylor playbook for HBC. He wants to introduce better quality products with higher margins, and plans to add his design studio merchandise to the stores early next year. Besides the details, he sees a whole new concept for the big Bay department stores. It would entail shrinking the Bay, possibly introducing Lord & Taylor within the stores, and adding Zellers in the basement and Fortunoff jewellery departments upstairs, with office space at the top. Lord & Taylor would serve to fill a gap in the retail landscape between the Bay and carriage trade Holt Renfrew, he says. For discounter Zellers, he seems to take inspiration from Target Corp., the fashionable U.S. discounter, by putting more focus on branded apparel. But he's not averse to selling parts of the business, or real estate, if the right offer came along either. “We're always available to sell things at the right price, or buy things at the right price.”
  2. Not a good day for retail! http://ottawacitizen.com/business/local-business/sony-announces-it-will-close-all-sony-stores-in-canada Sony Corp. will close all 14 of its Sony Stores across Canada as the company continues to struggle to reshape its business. The company made the announcement on Thursday in a memo to the employees of its stores — including its Ottawa location in the Bayshore Shopping Centre — telling them that the stores will cease operations within the next two months. The company confirmed the news in a statement released to The Citizen. “Over the next 6 to 8 weeks we are closing our Sony Stores in Canada and will redirect all of this business through our national network of Sony retailers, our online store … as well as through our Sony-trained Telesales team,” read the statement. “Our network of Sony authorized retailers offer a full range of Sony products and will be supported by our in-store Merchandisers and Product Trainers on an ongoing basis in order to ensure that our past customers have continued access to knowledgeable Sales consultants who can support their ongoing Sony electronics needs.“ The company’s news came on the same day that Target announced it would be shuttering all of its retail stores in Canada. Sony did not say how many jobs are affected by the decision. The closure comes as Sony is struggling to reshape its business amidst years of losses. For the current fiscal year which ends in March, the company is estimating a $1.9 billion (U.S.) loss. Within the last year the company sold its Vaio personal computing business and spun out its TV manufacturing operations. It is now reported to be considering exiting the TV business entirely. The company is also considering options for its lacklustre cellular phone division.
  3. FINANCIAL POST http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fpposted/archive/2007/11/15/the-rebirth-of-downtown-montreal.aspx Posted: November 15, 2007, 2:46 AM by DrewHasselback Montreal Downtown Montreal is going through a rapid revitalization that has seen the rise of condo towers, university buildings, hotels -- and major international retailers. Nowhere is this more apparent than the corner of Peel and Ste-Catherine, one of the city's busiest spots. "The corner has always had a certain amount of vibrancy," says Sam Sheraton, senior administrator for Montreal's Drazin family, which owns property near Peel and Ste-Catherine. "Now, it has become the central core of downtown Montreal." One-level retailers who once occupied 1,500-to 2,000-square-foot spaces and generated sales of about $400 to $600 per square foot are making way for bigger, multi-level stores that bring in twice as much. A large Roots store on the northeast corner of Peel and Ste-Catherine recently downsized and hot U.S. retailer American Eagle Outfitters moved in. On the northwest corner, a Guess store opens next month. Next door on Ste-Catherine is the year-old flagship store of Montreal's own Garage chain, one of Canada's top fashion retailers. And on the southwest side, several retailers, including a Rogers phone store and SAQ liquor outlet, are being relocated by the owner, to make way for a multilevel H& M store, industry sources say. (On the remaining southeast corner is an HMV store, in the same building as the Montreal Gazette and National Post bureau). Rumour has it Pottery Barn is looking for a location nearby. A few blocks to the west on Ste-Catherine, next to Ogilvy's, Apple is taking a space formerly occupied by a menswear store. Sean Silcoff
  4. 539 Sainte-Catherine Street Montreal, QC This building is situated at the northeast corner of Sainte-Catherine and Aylmer, across the street from The Bay's 640,000 sq. ft. main store. The property can accommodate a tenant of up to 5,000 sq. ft. on the ground floor, with potential for a mezzanine if required. The 40 foot facade on Sainte-Catherine Street, ceiling heights above 14 ft., excellent visibility, and the presence of many national retailers in the immediate vicinity create an ideal location for a flagship retail store in downtown Montreal. The building is undergoing a retrofit with completion expected in spring, 2012. http://www.canderel.com/news-communication/539-sainte-catherine-street
  5. Dana FlavelleBusiness Reporter Dana Flavelle Business Reporter There’s a bill before the U.S. Congress that would allow Americans to bring back $1,000 worth of Canadian goods duty-free after just a few hours of shopping across our border. Meanwhile, Canadians can’t bring back anything from the U.S. duty-free until they’ve been away for 24 hours. Even then the limit is $50. This protectionism is one of the reasons U.S. retailers who open up shop in Canada can charge higher prices here than in their home market, an economics professor says. “There are two reasons prices are higher in Canada,” said Ambarish Chandra, a professor with the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. “It is more expensive. Retailers here have to pay higher taxes and have somewhat higher costs. But a larger part of it is because they can get away with it.” Canadians can complain all they like but unless they do more cross-border shopping, retailers here will charge whatever the market will bear, Chandra said. The same barriers exist online: Canadians are charged duty on items shipped across the border. The Consumers Association of Canada says it has lobbied Ottawa to raise the limits, noting the maximum exemption - $750 after a week-long stay - hasn’t changed in more than 15 years. But the consumer group says its efforts are always opposed by Canadian retailers. The Retail Council of Canada denies it has lobbied the government on this issue. “In an age when you can shop around the world, travellers’ exemptions would be the least of our concerns,” said council president and chief executive Diane Brisebois. “We have not had any conversations with the government about exemptions.” Ottawa doubled the exemption for 48-hour trips outside the country to $400 from $200 in 2007, but has no plans to make further changes at this time, said a spokesperson for federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. “We continually monitor the adequacies of the travellers’ exemption for Canadians. This includes taking into consideration the impact of any further modifications on the government’s budgetary balance and the impact on Canadian retailers,” the minister’s office said in a written statement. The U.S. currently allows $200 for same-day shopping. The issue of retail price parity arose again this week after some Canadian customers complained U.S. retailer J. Crew is charging higher prices in its new Canadian store and on its Canadian website than in its U.S. stores and on its U.S. website. The difference in the stores averages 15 per cent; the difference online is up to 40 per cent, once taxes and shipping are included. Canadians have been railing about price differences between the two countries ever since the Canadian dollar rose to parity with the U.S. greenback in 2007 after years in the doldrums. “It’s come to the fore again because the Canadian dollar is so strong and so many U.S. retailers are coming here,” said Lynn Bevan, a partner with the consulting firm RSM Richter in Toronto. Bevan said retailers who bring their operations north of the border face a slew of higher costs, from duty and freight to real estate and labour. Overhead costs in Canada are spread across fewer stores, and in some cases the Canadian business is separately owned and must pay royalty and other fees to the U.S. parent. “It’s not like Canadian retailers are making out like bandits,” she said. Prices were on average 20 per cent higher in Canada than in the U.S. on a broad range of goods from DVDs to luxury cars to golf balls, according to a survey last April by Doug Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets. The only times the price gap has closed in the past four years are when the Canadian dollar has dropped below the U.S. greenback, Porter said. http://www.thestar.com/business/article/1043928--canadians-need-higher-duty-free-limits-prof-says
  6. Microsoft to Open Stores, Hires Retail Hand By NICK WINGFIELD Microsoft Corp. said it hired a former Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executive to help the company open its own retail stores, a strategy shift that borrows from the playbook of rival Apple Inc. The Redmond, Wash., company said it hired David Porter, most recently the head of world-wide product distribution at DreamWorks Animation SKG, as corporate vice president of retail stores for Microsoft. In a statement, Microsoft said the first priority of Mr. Porter, who is also a 25-year veteran of Wal-Mart, will be to define where to place the Microsoft stores and when to open them. A Microsoft spokesman said the company's current plans are for a "small number" of stores. [microsoft store and retail concept] Microsoft In a warehouse near its Redmond, Wash., campus, Microsoft created mockups for how Microsoft products might be displayed either in its own stores or in a retailer's. [microsoft store or retail concept] Microsoft It remains to be seen whether the effort can add some pizzazz to Microsoft's unfashionable image, which Apple has sought to reinforce with ads that mock its competitor. Mr. Porter, in a statement, said there are "tremendous opportunities" for Microsoft to create a "world-class shopping experience" for the company's customers. "The purpose of opening these stores is to create deeper engagement with consumers and continue to learn firsthand about what they want and how they buy," Microsoft said in a statement. The move is a sign of the deeper role consumer-technology companies are playing in the retail business, despite the many risks of straying from their traditional businesses of making hardware and software. Apple, of Cupertino, Calif., encountered widespread skepticism when it first began opening its own retail stores in 2001. Eight years later, though, Apple's chain of more than 200 stores around the world are widely credited with helping the company boost sales of its Mac, iPod and iPhone product lines. The Apple stores, with their eye-catching architecture, highly-trained sales staff and "genius bars" that provide technical support, gave Apple a way to showcase its products in an environment where they weren't lumped in with a gamut of other electronics items. Sony Corp. and Bose Corp. also operate their own stores. At the same time, some large electronics retailers have fallen on hard times amidst the weakening economy. CompUSA Inc. last year closed most of its retail stores, while Circuit City Stores Inc. is in the process of shutting down all of its stores and laying off more than 30,000 employees. Microsoft has long flirted with the idea of doing its own store, even as it has tested ways that retail partners can better sell Microsoft products. In a 20,000-square-foot warehouse near its campus in the suburbs of Seattle, Microsoft has tested various retail concepts, complete with shelves displaying Xbox games and big computer monitors with touch-sensitive screens. Key details about Microsoft's retail plans still need to be worked out, though. Microsoft said the stores could feature a range of products from personal computers running its Windows operating system to cellphones running the company's Windows Mobile operating system to its Xbox videogame console. One of Mr. Porter's tasks will be to figure out whether to actually sell computers rather than merely show off their features. Any decision that favored some PC makers and left others off store shelves could anger some hardware partners. Stephen Baker, an analyst at NPD Group Inc., which tracks retailers, said Apple doesn't face the dilemmas Microsoft will in the retail business because Apple makes the hardware and software for its products. "That's going to be a big challenge for Microsoft," Mr. Baker said. A spokeswoman for Hewlett-Packard Co., one of Microsoft's biggest hardware partners in the PC business, declined to comment on Microsoft's retail strategy. Spokesmen for Dell Inc. didn't respond to requests for comment. Microsoft's store plans could also irk existing retail partners like Best Buy Co., on whom Microsoft is especially dependent for sales to consumers. Best Buy representatives didn't return calls requesting comment. Microsoft said it will share the lessons it learns from its own stores with other retailers. The failures of other stores opened by technology companies will loom over Microsoft as it launches its stores. In 2004, computer maker Gateway Inc. shuttered a network of more than 188 company-owned retail stores after weak sales. Microsoft itself operated a Microsoft store inside a movie-theater complex in San Francisco beginning in 1999, but two years later shut down the store -- which showcased, but didn't sell, Microsoft products.
  7. Toronto : The downside of up TENILLE BONOGUORE Globe and mail Old Toronto is booming, thanks to a flood of new condo dwellers. So why are prime retail strips awash in 'for lease' signs? Tenille Bonoguore recently counted 54 empty storefronts on one stretch of Queen alone. With rents soaring, is it only cashed-up chains that can survive? The garlands were up, the Christmas songs were playing, but inside the Danforth Avenue store Paper and Presents, the mood was anything but merry. It was December, 2007, and instead of spreading good cheer, customers were hurling abuse about cross-border price discrepancies. Store owner Grace Wong was facing her second year without drawing a paycheque, and she was fed up with skyrocketing business costs. After 15 years as an independent retailer, she finally realized that it was time to go. "The Danforth has really changed. It's not as vibrant," Ms. Wong said this week from the store that will close this summer. "Stores are flipping, and nobody wants to take a chance. I wouldn't choose a place where stores keep flipping over. ... That's not a good sign." Like many tenant retailers, Ms. Wong pays both rent and part of the property taxes. The combination had reached $5,500 a month for her 800-square-foot storefront, a hike of 40 per cent in five years. Meanwhile, insurance had risen to $1,800 a year, up 50 per cent in 10 years, and other costs were soaring. She was caught in the unprecedented blaze of interest in downtown retailing that is reshaping Toronto's shopping strips, and threatens to turn the city into a whitewash of chain stores. Ms. Wong's is one of seven stores that have closed, or are preparing to close, this year in the Danforth Business Improvement Area. Thirty shut up shop last year, 10 of which had been open for less than two years. The empty storefronts don't reflect a lack of demand - just the opposite. Demand for downtown retail on hot strips like Queen Street, Bloor Street, Yonge at Dundas, and now Yonge at College, has driven up rents, speeding up turnover and forcing out the independent shops that made the strips vibrant in the first place. "A lot of landlords are making the rent so high because they're hoping for a Starbucks or a major chain to come in. They're waiting for the big guys," said Ms. Wong, who is opening an online Japanese paper store. Or storefronts turn into what Charlie Huisken, of This Ain't the Rosedale Library, calls "retail hotels" - a building that hosts a continuing rotation of short-lived ventures. "I don't know if that's a problem of [the retailers] lacking capital, or whether it's because the rents are too high. It might be a combination of the two. They pop up and just disappear," said Mr. Huisken, who recently moved his bookstore from Church and Wellesley to Kensington Market, partly because of escalating rent. Mr. Huisken believes that independent business can survive in the city centre only if retailers are given a mandatory option to buy property. Others wonder if the independents can survive at all. BIG BOX, BRAND OR BUST All of the factors that appear to help business - an influx of residents, increasing demand for downtown property - are sending independents running for shelter. John Crombie, senior managing director and national retail director for Cushman & Wakefield LePage, said he has never seen such demand for downtown retail space. Yorkville now commands rents of $300 per square foot, making it the third-priciest retail space in North America. Storefronts at Queen West and Spadina now cost $125 to $150 a square foot, and a ripple effect is washing across the city. The hot residential market of the past few years has had an impact too: Mushrooming condo developments seem poised to produce ready-made customer bases, which landlords can use as a basis for rent hikes. The condos can increase competition too, because of the retail spaces included in such developments. Meanwhile, Toronto businesses are paying some of the highest property-tax rates in North America, and subsidizing relatively lightly taxed residents. The City of Toronto has pledged to even that out over the next 15 years by shifting more of the tax burden from businesses to homeowners. But that could prove little comfort when new property valuations are issued this fall for the 2009 tax year, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business's Ontario vice-president, Judith Andrew. "If there are really trendy spots that are seeing values go way up ... their share of the total assessment pie goes up and their share of the tax bill goes up too. That's bad news for retailers, even if they're renting," Ms. Andrew said. As independents are being priced out of hot neighbourhoods, cashed-up chains and luxury or trendy brands are moving in, Mr. Crombie said. "There's no question that there's a [residential] filling-in, and they're saying it's more of an affluent consumer coming down," he said. That's an irresistible prospect for big-brand players Queen Street West is a perfect example of the cycle. The city's best-known shopping strip is full of chains, such as Gap, H&M, Zara, Billabong and HMV, that use cheaper, globally homogeneous product to nab the city's disposable income. Brand flagships are getting in on the action too, with Mexx opening its own storefront and Crocs about to do the same. As they move in, the displaced stores seek cheaper locations. Historically, that has meant moving farther west. Now, Queen Street is threatening to run out of western succour. Just look to Parkdale's speedy transformation from blighted hovel to boho-chic haven. "I think there's a frustration for the smaller ma-and-pa regional players, but what can you do? It's really only following consumer behaviour," Mr. Crombie said. "... I've never seen such an interest in downtown street properties." At the start of last year, the Greater Toronto Area had almost 185 million square feet of retail real estate, more than two-thirds of which was in shopping centres and big-box stores. Until now, suburban malls held the most appeal to retailers. But that changed for Toronto in 2007, according to Cushman & Wakefield LePage's annual report. Vacancies on retail strips dipped to 8.4 per cent in 2007, down from 8.5 per cent the previous year and 9.7 per cent five years previous. Meanwhile, vacancies in shopping centres rose to 7.4 per cent, up from 6.7 per cent in 2006. Danforth BIA president Glyn Laverick said it's essential that small businesses be given a helping hand if they are to survive. "There's not an awful lot of support from an institutional or governmental level for small business. There's really not a plethora of grants available if you're not opening a manufacturing company," Mr. Laverick said. One hopeful note is that there are still plenty of people bellying up for the challenge. While the Danforth BIA has lost 37 businesses since January, 2007, 29 others have opened up. NICHE IS THE WORD Studio Brillantine owner Ferdinand Suzara spent last Christmas doing a bit of shopping of his own. Eleven years after establishing the retail beachhead on West Queen West, the design boutique owner was on the hunt for a new 'hood. Not that there was anything wrong with his spot just west of Ossington: He had hoped to buy the building from his landlord, as they had discussed, but his landlord was in no rush to sell. And who could blame him? That part of town will soon welcome hundreds of new residents as part of the City of Toronto's Queen West Triangle densification plan. Mr. Suzara started looking elsewhere, snapping up a more affordable building in Parkdale instead. Studio Brillantine and its inventory of leading-edge design products had opened long before Ossington's hipster influx. So the posters announcing the move shocked the neighbourhood. "Our whole block is up for sale. It's just in the air for this block," Mr. Suzara said as he started preparing for the August move. The south-Roncesvalles area his store is moving to still holds the edgy appeal of Queen West's earlier days, he said, but the clock is ticking. By his reckoning, the chain stores will start arriving in five or 10 years. As the cycle gains speed, independents scramble to seek out the last shrinking oases of affordability. The Danforth's Carrot Common is one such hub. Roncesvalles Avenue where it meets Queen West is quickly becoming another. Shannon Doyle moved her gourmet nook The Mercantile to "Roncy" in May, despite having a legion of loyal customers on College Street. But the rental of her tiny College storefront was about to jump 45 per cent, by her calculations (a figure with which her landlord disagrees), and there was no way she could keep up. Plus, the College strip she had entered in 1999 had disappeared in a slew of bars. It was time to go. "You're really watching businesses move or close," said the diminutive Ms. Doyle, now happily serving her new regulars. " ... They're just flipping every year. You want to say to a landlord, 'Why not just have a good tenant and work with them?' "It has to stop eventually, or everything's a Gap." Space: the final frontier Source: Cushman & Wakefield LePage Toronto Retail Strips: Average Overall Vacancy 2002 - 9.7% 2006 - 8.5% 2007- 8.4% Retail Strip Examples: Vacancy Over 5 Years Yorkville 2002 - 10% 2007 - 7.7% Chinatown 2002 - 8.6% 2007 - 8.2% Pape & Danforth 2002 - 15% 2007 - 9% Yonge & Wellesley 2002 - 8.3% 2007 - 9.1% Dundas & Dufferin 2002 - 13.7% 2007 - 12.9% Source: Cushman and Wakefield LePage
  8. Canadian retail sales up in 2008: Report By Derek Abma, Canwest News ServiceJanuary 9, 2009 10:04 AM A report released Friday by Canada's largest processor of credit- and debit-card transactions indicates people were spending more money this past holiday season than the year before despite the downbeat economic environment. Moneris Solutions said its data for December sales indicates "resilience" in consumer spending last month and "dramatic growth" for certain categories, such as department stores and clothing retailers. Moneris said it processed two per cent more sales in all merchant categories in December compared with a year earlier. It said sales at department stores — which includes Wal-Mart and Zellers — were up nine per cent, and sales at apparel outlets were up six per cent. "Canadian consumers and retailers are owed a little bit of credit," said Brian Green, senior vice-president of Moneris Solutions. "Despite the inclement weather and despite all the noise about the economy, consumers went out and they bought more this year than they did last year, and retailers gave them a reason to do that." Green said retailers should be credited for their holiday sales performance because they responded to "a more difficult economy" by providing discounts, conducting successful promotions, and ensuring a positive experience for the people that came to their stores. He said in better economic times, the increase in holiday sales processed by Moneris has been as much as seven per cent. Richard Talbot, president of retail-analysis group Talbot Consultants, said he's not surprised by these numbers and never expected this past holiday season to be as bad as some expected. "I was not a great believer in the doom and gloom for Canada that we were led to believe in the media ahead of time because that wasn't the feedback I was getting from the retailers I deal with," he said. Talbot said the economic situation in Canada is not as dire as in the United States, though there could be more difficulties for domestic retailers in the coming year as the downturn for Canada's largest trading partner, the U.S., spills across the border. Moneris' figures for December showed sales for discount retailers, such as the various "dollar stores," were down 11 per cent from the year before. Moneris said it processed nine per cent less sales for wholesale outlets last month, a category that includes Costco. Green said it's possible the bargains being offered by department and specialty stores cut into some of the business for discount and wholesale outlets. Moneris said the average transaction value in December was three per cent less than a year before. Green said it was the first time Moneris, which has been doing these holiday-season comparisons for eight years, has seen a year-to-year decline in the average transaction amount. The company attributed this to a combination of discounting, lower gasoline prices and overall economic conditions. © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  9. THE CANADIAN PRESS MONTREAL–Cadillac Fairview has announced a $52-million investment to "bring elegance and luxury to the shopping experience" at Carrefour Laval in suburban Montreal. The renovation, starting immediately and set for completion by the autumn of next year, includes relocating the shopping centre's food courts into a new 1,200-seat complex, adding more stores and ``harmonizing the common areas with the garden court." Cadillac Fairview, owned by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, said Wednesday the design is "inspired by the urban trend seen in shopping centres of leading international cities." The upgrading of the 34-year-old mall, now with about 300 retailers in its 1.3 million leasable square feet, will include new flooring, ceilings, lighting and soft seating areas, with construction planned to minimize inconvenience for shoppers. Other properties in Cadillac Fairview's $16-billion portfolio include the Toronto-Dominion Centre and Eaton Centre in Toronto and the Pacific Centre in Vancouver
  10. plannersweb.com/2014/02/walmart-stores-go-small-urban/ <header style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: 'Minion W01 Regular', Times, serif; font-size: 15px; line-height: 21px;"> Taking a Closer Look Walmart Stores Go Small and Urban by Edward McMahon </header>Can big box retailers think outside the box? A few years ago the idea of a pedestrian friendly big box store would have been laughable, but as urban living has become more popular the major chain retailers are paying attention and beginning to build urban format stores. On December 4, 2013 Walmart opened its first two stores in Washington, DC and the new stores illustrate the lengths to which brick and mortar retailers will go to get into rapidly growing urban markets. Compared to the old “grey-blue battleship box” that has saturated suburban and small town America, the new urban Walmart on H Street, NW in Washington is a remarkable departure. <figure id="attachment_13030" class="thumbnail wp-caption aligncenter" style="padding: 0px; line-height: 20px; border: none; border-top-left-radius: 0px; border-top-right-radius: 0px; border-bottom-right-radius: 0px; border-bottom-left-radius: 0px; -webkit-box-shadow: none; box-shadow: none; -webkit-transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; margin: 0px auto; width: 520px;"><figcaption class="caption wp-caption-text" style="font-style: italic; font-size: 14px; padding: 9px; color: rgb(85, 85, 85);">View of Walmart on H Street, NW in Washington, DC. Photo by Edward McMahon.</figcaption></figure> Whether you love them or loathe them, this building proves that Walmart — one of the most recognizable symbols of modern suburbia — is going urban. Who ever thought that Walmart shoppers could sleep upstairs and shop downstairs, but that is exactly what residents of the new Walmart near downtown Washington will be able to do. The 83,000 square ft. store built in partnership with JBG Rosenfeld is in a mixed use building topped by four stories of apartments. Instead of acres of asphalt, the parking is underground. In addition to the Walmart, there is another 10,000 square ft. of retail space wrapped around the outside of the retail giant. Retail tenants currently include a Starbucks and a bank, with more to follow. The residential portion of the building contains 303 apartments, a fitness center, a lounge area, a roof deck, and a swimming pool. <figure id="attachment_13034" class="thumbnail wp-caption aligncenter" style="padding: 0px; line-height: 20px; border: none; border-top-left-radius: 0px; border-top-right-radius: 0px; border-bottom-right-radius: 0px; border-bottom-left-radius: 0px; -webkit-box-shadow: none; box-shadow: none; -webkit-transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; margin: 0px auto; width: 520px;"><figcaption class="caption wp-caption-text" style="font-style: italic; font-size: 14px; padding: 9px; color: rgb(85, 85, 85);">View of roof deck and pool on top of the H Street Walmart in Washington, DC. Photo courtesy of JBG Companies.</figcaption></figure>The main store entrance sits right on the sidewalk and shoppers will use an escalator to reach the store level. The store itself offers more groceries than a typical Walmart and the shopping floor is day lighted by real windows. Designed by MV+A Architects and the Preston Partnership, the H Street Walmart is a handsome urban building with traditional human scale details. It includes cornices, individual multi-pane windows, an interesting corner feature at the main entrance, and a separate entrance for residents. It is a fully urban, pedestrian friendly building. Whether you love them or loathe them, this building proves that Walmart — one of the most recognizable symbols of modern suburbia — is going urban. While the H Street store is by far the better of the two new urban Walmart’s in Washington, the other new store on Georgia Avenue, NW is also a significant departure from the typical suburban store design. Built on the site of an abandoned car dealership, the Georgia Avenue Walmart is a 102,000 square foot store on a four acre site. <figure id="attachment_13036" class="thumbnail wp-caption aligncenter" style="padding: 0px; line-height: 20px; border: none; border-top-left-radius: 0px; border-top-right-radius: 0px; border-bottom-right-radius: 0px; border-bottom-left-radius: 0px; -webkit-box-shadow: none; box-shadow: none; -webkit-transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; margin: 0px auto; width: 520px;"><figcaption class="caption wp-caption-text" style="font-style: italic; font-size: 14px; padding: 9px; color: rgb(85, 85, 85);">View of the new Walmart on Georgia Avenue in Washington, DC. Photo by Edward McMahon.</figcaption></figure>Given the small size of the property, the only way to build a large store was to eliminate surface parking and bring the store right up to the sidewalk. The parking is located in a garage located directly below the store. While the building is not mixed use, it does greet the street and represent a real evolution for Walmart. The lesson here is that cities that want good design are going to have to demand it. In addition to the two stores that opened in December, 2013, Walmart has announced plans for four additional stores in Washington. Based on a review of their plans, some will be walkable, urban format stores, others will not. Dan Malouff, a design critic with the Greater Greater Washington blog, says that one will be unquestionably urban, one will be a hybrid, and two will be almost completely suburban. 1 The lesson here is that cities that want good design are going to have to demand it. <figure id="attachment_13042" class="thumbnail wp-caption aligncenter" style="padding: 0px; line-height: 20px; border: none; border-top-left-radius: 0px; border-top-right-radius: 0px; border-bottom-right-radius: 0px; border-bottom-left-radius: 0px; -webkit-box-shadow: none; box-shadow: none; -webkit-transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; margin: 0px auto; width: 520px;"><figcaption class="caption wp-caption-text" style="font-style: italic; font-size: 14px; padding: 9px; color: rgb(85, 85, 85);">Design rendering of Walmart now under construction in Washington’s Fort Totten neighborhood. Graphic courtesy of JBG Companies.</figcaption></figure>Building an Urban Format Store Can Walmart build an urban format store? The answer appears to be yes, but it also appears that the only thing standard in an urban format big box store is its lack of standardization. Building suburban big box stores is simple. Buy a 20 acre suburban greenfield site. Build a large, free standing rectangular single floor building on a concrete slab. Plop the building in a sea of parking. A Walmart Supercenter in the suburbs of Atlanta, for example, is essentially identical to one in the suburbs of Chicago or Cincinnati. This model simply won’t work in a dense urban area. The two things that have kept Walmart out of cities were its inflexibility on design issues and opposition from labor unions and civic activists who oppose the company because of its low wages and negative impact on existing local businesses. Now that it appears that Walmart is willing (when pushed by local government) to adapt its stores to the urban environment, it is likely only a matter of time before the retail giant moves into cities all over the country. <figure id="attachment_13043" class="thumbnail wp-caption alignleft" style="padding: 0px; line-height: 20px; border: none; border-top-left-radius: 0px; border-top-right-radius: 0px; border-bottom-right-radius: 0px; border-bottom-left-radius: 0px; -webkit-box-shadow: none; box-shadow: none; -webkit-transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; float: left; margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px; width: 320px;"><figcaption class="caption wp-caption-text" style="font-style: italic; font-size: 14px; padding: 9px; color: rgb(85, 85, 85);">Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chicago’s Loop. photo by Eric Allix Rogers, Flickr Creative Commons license.</figcaption></figure>Big Boxes are Getting Smaller Another thing that is clear is that big boxes are getting smaller. The new 80,000 square ft. Walmart in Washington is half the size of many suburban Supercenters. What’s more, Walmart is creating new formats uniquely designed for cities. The new Walmart Neighborhood Market, for example, is only 40,000 square feet while the so-called Walmart Express stores are only 15,000 square feet. Walmart has even opened two college stores, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta 2 and at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. 3 Each of these stores is less than 5000 square feet in size. [TABLE=class: tg, width: 475] <tbody>[TR] [TH=class: tg-acmm, bgcolor: #F1C40F]Store Type[/TH] [TH=class: tg-acmm, bgcolor: #F1C40F]Square Footage[/TH] [TH=class: tg-acmm, bgcolor: #F1C40F]Date Initiated[/TH] [/TR] [TR] [TD=class: tg-031e]Discount Store[/TD] [TD=class: tg-031e]106,000 sq. ft.[/TD] [TD=class: tg-031e]1962[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD=class: tg-031e]Supercenter[/TD] [TD=class: tg-031e]182,000 sq. ft.[/TD] [TD=class: tg-031e]1982[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD=class: tg-031e]Neighborhood Market[/TD] [TD=class: tg-031e]38,000 sq. ft.[/TD] [TD=class: tg-031e]1998[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD=class: tg-031e]Express Store[/TD] [TD=class: tg-031e]15,000 sq. ft.[/TD] [TD=class: tg-031e]2011[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD=class: tg-031e]College Store[/TD] [TD=class: tg-031e]Under 5,000 sq. ft.[/TD] [TD=class: tg-031e]2013[/TD] [/TR] </tbody>[/TABLE] Times have changed. The country’s largest retailers have oversaturated rural and suburban communities. The only place left with more spending power than stores is in our cities. Walmart has made its urban debut. The outstanding question remaining is: what impact will Walmart have on local economies and wages? Washington, DC, City Councilman Phil Mendelson, a co-sponsor of unsuccessful legislation that would have required big box retailers to pay a living wage and benefits, expressed skepticism about the impact of Walmart on the local economy. “I would say, having the world’s largest retailer interested in locating in the city where we’ve lost almost every other department store over the last four decades — that’s a good thing. Having an economic competitor who underprices the market and causes a descent to the bottom, in terms of wages — that is not a good thing.”4 While Walmart is clearly evolving to fit into cities, there is also evidence that the retail giant is willing to break the mold in smaller towns and suburbs. What About Smaller Towns & Suburbs? While Walmart is clearly evolving to fit into cities, there is also evidence that the retail giant is willing to break the mold in smaller towns and suburbs. This is because retail store size is shrinking due to the growth of internet shopping and also because suburbs are changing to stay competitive. Target, Whole Foods, Safeway, Giant, and other chains are already breaking the rules by building smaller footprint stores in multi-story buildings and mixed use developments. Walmart has recently opened several small town stores with parking under the building or with solar installations on the roof. What impact Walmart and other big box retailers will have on cities and the neighborhoods where they locate remains to be seen. Harriet Tregoning, the planning Director in Washington, DC, says that “Walmart does not offer any meaningful shopping experience. It competes solely on price and convenience.” 5Her message to small businesses is that “if you are in direct competition with Walmart you are in the wrong business to begin with.” Instead she says “businesses that offer something Walmart can’t like bars, restaurants and stores selling specialty goods or offering personalized levels of service — will continue to thrive.” In some ways, the idea of national chains opening big new urban stores is a return to the way things once were. In 1960, we called it department store. Today we call it a Walmart. Ed McMahon is one of the country’s most incisive analysts of planning and land use issues and trends. He holds the Charles Fraser Chair on Sustainable Development and is a Senior Resident Fellow at the Urban Land Institute in Washington, DC. McMahon is a frequent speaker at conferences on planning and land development. Over the past 21 years, we’ve been pleased to have published more than two dozen articles by McMahon in the Planning Commissioners Journal, and now on PlannersWeb.com. Notes: Dan Maloutt, “Walmart’s 6 DC stores: Some will be urban, some won’t” (Greater Greater Washington blog, April 26, 2012) ↩ Allison Brooks, “The world’s tiniest Walmart opens in Atlanta” (Atlanta Magazine, Aug. 14, 2013 ↩ Todd Gill, “Now open: Walmart on Campus” (Fayetteville Flyer, Jan. 14, 2011).↩ Ryan Holeywell, “Walmart Makes Its Urban Debut” (Governing Magazine, June 2012) ↩ Id. ↩
  11. Here are some examples that show US based companies that have retail stores in Québec, but don't rush (if at all) to translate their online sites, probably because of the relatively small population base in Quebec vis à vis North America. In the meantime we are cut off from ordering online. http://montrealgazette.com/business/local-business/retail/blocked-in-quebec-u-s-stores-shut-down-english-only-web-sites-when-they-open-here Blocked in Quebec: U.S. stores shut down English-only web sites when they open here EVA FRIEDE, MONTREAL GAZETTE More from Eva Friede, Montreal Gazette Published on: November 12, 2014Last Updated: November 12, 2014 5:20 PM EST Many retailers have closed their sites to Quebec traffic due to language restrictions. As the invasion of U.S. retailers continues and as the Internet increasingly becomes the marketplace and the research centre of consumers, some Quebecers are getting unpleasant surprises: some companies have blocked access to their websites here either because they have voluntarily complied with the French Language Charter or because they have received a notice from the Office québécois de la langue française. The latest sites to shut down are Williams-Sonoma, West Elm, Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids, all part of the same San Francisco-based company and all arrived in Quebec within the last two years. The sites shut down on Oct. 22, according to a company spokesperson. But a quick survey shows many prominent U.S. retailers with brick-and-mortar stores in Quebec continue to operate English-only shopping sites here. The probable reason: the Office québécois de la langue française, charged with ensuring that Quebec’s French Language Charter is respected, sends notices to retailers only if complaints are filed, said spokesman Jean-Pierre Le Blanc. The Williams-Sonoma spokesperson confirmed in an email that the brands have ceased e-commerce activities in Quebec for an undetermined period in order to comply with Quebec language regulations. The home pages and other information pages are available in English only, but clicking on the shopping link takes you to a redirect loop. “We are actively working with the stores in order to find ways to continue to make the shopping experience memorable for our Quebec customers,” the spokesperson wrote. BCBG, Club Monaco and Urban Outfitters are among other retail brands that block access to shopping or to their entire sites in Quebec. Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie, part of the same Philadelphia-based company, blocked access to their websites when they opened stores here. Anthropologie, which opened in Montreal in late 2012, launched its French website 13 months later. Urban Outfitters remains blocked. But Free People, also part of the chain, does not have a store here and the site is accessible, either for research or Internet sales. Similarly, Club Monaco shut its site in Quebec when it launched an online shopping site. A visit to its home page invites customers to visit its store, which is soon to expand and move to a prominent location at Ste-Catherine St. W. at Metcalfe, from Les Cours Mont-Royal. Founded by Canadian Joe Mimran in Toronto in 1985, Club Monaco is now owned by Ralph Lauren and headquartered in New York. sent via Tapatalk