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  1. #1
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    [EN] Retail slump? What retail slump?

    Off-price retailers show that brick-and-mortar isn’t out of fashion yet

    Jessica Dye
    2017-10-03


    As conventional department stores revamp to keep pace with changing consumer preferences, off-price retailers like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross Stores and Burlington are set for several years of steady growth by focusing on delivering a brick-and-mortar “treasure hunt”, according to a report from analysts at Moody’s.

    Moody’s analysts predict that off-price retailers — which offer designer gear and goods at discounted prices — will see their operating income grow almost 7 per cent in 2017 and 5.4 per cent next year. By contrast, department stores — like Macy’s, Nordstrom or Saks Fifth Avenue — are seen as declining 9.3 per cent this year and 2.7 per cent in the next.



    For the fast-evolving retail landscape, the two sub-sectors offer a study in contrasts. While department stores have been dented by declining foot traffic, off-price retailers continue to lure in shoppers, including the coveted millennial demographic, who get a thrill from combing through racks of brand-name items for the best deal.

    Off-price retailers “are far outstripping department stores, which in contrast, are struggling with outmoded formats and supply chains that cannot keep pace with customer demand,” the report said.

    Some department stores have attempted to adjust to the rise of online competitors by building digital platforms to reach shoppers on their computers or phones.

    But off-price retailers are less likely to prioritise online over their physical stores — indeed, the major players in the sector are set to grow their physical store footprint by more than 4 per cent this year domestically. And, according to Moody’s, e-commerce penetration is just 3 per cent in off-price retail compared to 20 per cent for the department-store sector.

    Department stores are trying out a slew of strategies to keep pace with changing consumer preferences: shrinking big stores, investing more in technology, teaming up with digital incumbents like Amazon and and even dipping a toe into the off-price sector, as Nordstrom has with its Nordstrom Rack line of stores.

    Wall Street has taken notice of off-retail’s performance over the past year, leaving the biggest players’ shares flat or up slightly compared to the heavy hit investors have dealt to department stores.

    Over the past year, Ross Stores is up 1 per cent, TJ Maxx and Marshalls parent TJX is down 0.7 per cent and Burlington has risen almost 20 per cent. By contrast, Macy’s is down 42 per cent, Nordstrom has dropped 13.5 per cent and Hudson’s Bay, the Canadian owner of Saks Fifth Avenue, has fallen 26.4 per cent.

    The report concluded:

    “Department stores continue to work feverishly to turn the tide and improve their delivery of value and convenience to the customer. The channel must continue to find a store experience that is going to compel customers and drive traffic to spaces that are large and sometimes inconvenient to navigate. What was once an asset (having an abundance of choice in one place) has become a liability because customers are now doing their product browsing and research online, before the store visit. Off-price continues to have the store experience to drive traffic and its supply chain and purchase is nimble to meet customer needs in relatively convenient locations– a clear winner in the changing landscape.”

    https://www.ft.com/content/990c0133-...6-3e07f4af7829

  2. #2
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    Property Investors Bet on Emerging-Market Mall Culture

    ‘Destination’ shopping centers with entertainment, green space and dining are growing

    Theresa Agovino
    Oct. 3, 2017

    Retail development in the U.S. has slowed to a crawl as consumers switch to online shopping. But in emerging markets it is a different story.

    Development pipelines are packed with shopping centers, outlet malls and other retail properties in such countries as India, China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Colombia.

    Indeed, retail is one of the most attractive property types in emerging markets for international investors who are showing more interest in these markets now that growth rates are increasing and many governments are implementing structural reforms.

    For example, private-equity giant KKR late last year joined Hong Kong-listed Sino-Ocean Group Holding Ltd. to make a $190 million investment in Beijing Capital Juda Ltd. , a leading Chinese retail outlet developer. Juda has four existing outlet centers and another seven in the pipeline, according to Ralph Rosenberg, head of KKR real estate.

    In Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, three malls have opened this year while another trio are set to do so by December’s end, according to real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield.

    Meanwhile, with online retail also gathering steam in emerging markets, some shopping center developers are adopting strategies that are becoming more popular in the U.S. and Europe that combine bricks and clicks and focus shopping centers more on experiences, such as dining out, that consumers can’t do on the internet.

    “We’re focusing on retail that has leapfrogged [traditional mall] development,” said Alfonso Munk, managing director of PGIM Real Estate , which manages $4 billion in emerging-market real estate.

    Part of the reason retail development is hotter in emerging markets than the U.S. is simply because U.S. is over-stored, as experts in the retail business put it. Experts say there is about 25 square feet of retail space per capita in the U.S.

    Retail space is tiny in emerging markets by comparison. There is roughly 1 to 2 square feet of retail space per capita in Mexico and India, experts say.

    Retail experts say that this existing supply isn’t enough to serve the growing consumer classes in many of these countries. “As emerging middle classes continue to gain household wealth, the natural extension of that is they will be interested in consumption,” Mr. Rosenberg said.

    Until recently, Blackstone Group LP focused most of its investing in India in the office market. But lately the giant private-equity firm has put its sights on shopping centers in that country, partly because demand has picked up from major international retailers like IKEA and Uniqlo, according to people familiar with the matter.

    In Colombia, mall development is enveloping the capital of Bogotá and spreading to other parts of the country of about 49.3 million people—the second largest population in South America after Brazil.

    In 2014, there were only 4.9 million square meters of retail shopping centers in the country. Last year, two malls were delivered that were more than 700,000 square meters each, according to CBRE. About 22 malls are expected to be delivered this year while a similar amount are slated to be delivered over the next two years.

    Avenida Capital LLC, a private-equity firm with offices in New York and Colombia, is building a mall in Bogotá complete with a petting zoo, go-cart course and rides along with traditional stores. It will cost about $170 million and open by the end of next year, according to Michael Teich, an Avenida founder and managing director.

    “There aren’t a lot of places in Colombia for families to go and spend time,” he said. “We are making a bet that this will be a destination.”

    Avenida also is building a mixed-use project in Bogotá and scouting for other opportunities. Colombia is an especially attractive market because it has numerous cities with more than one million people, setting it apart from other South American countries where the only major population center is the capital.

    CBRE Global Investors, one of the world’s largest real estate asset managers with $98.9 billion under management, also has been looking for so-called “destination” retail in markets with high growth economies. For example, earlier this year CBRE bought Letnany Shopping Centre in Prague. Retailers include H&M and Zara. A skydiving area and surf arena are among the entertainment attractions.

    The two-year-old EmQuartier mall in Bangkok boasts a 40-meter-tall man-made waterfall and a 3,000-square-meter rooftop garden—treats in a city short on green space. And in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, the SC Vivocity mall has a rooftop park and playground, bowling alley and movie theater.

    “E-commerce still has a way to go and people will still want to go to the mall to experience things,” said Desmond Sim, head of research for Singapore and southeast Asia for CBRE. “There is still a mall culture.”

    To be sure, these investors aren’t ignoring the potential threat of e-commerce. Logistics real estate is one of the most attractive property types in emerging markets because of growing demand from online retailers.

    But many emerging-market countries lack the necessary infrastructure necessary for e-commerce to thrive, such as efficient highways. Also, swaths of the populations don’t even have credit cards, so e-commerce isn’t an option for many.

    “You might buy online if it is cheaper, but if it is not why do you want to wait 14 days to have it delivered?” asked Mr. Sim. “That is the push and pull for most of the consumers in emerging countries” in southeast Asia, he said.

    To play it safe, some mall developers and their retailer tenants are making it easy for consumers to pick up purchases made online in the stores. Another option offered is using the store as a showroom so shoppers can see the items and then have them delivered.

    Jean-Baptiste Wettling, director of JLL Colombia, thinks that it will take some time before Colombia is ensconced in an e-commerce culture. The country is very mountainous, and roads are still only beginning to be constructed.

    “The current administration is building highways but roads are expensive to build,” he said. “It is a mid-to-long term project.”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/propert...ure-1507028403

  3. #3
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    Investors build contrarian bets on US bricks-and-mortar retailers

    A handful of funds see value in depressed US retail stocks including Macy’s and JC Penney

    Miles Johnson
    2017-10-03

    The value of shares in US retailers has fallen sharply this year because the wider market has priced in a period of painful disruption for the sector as online competition is expected to permanently alter consumer shopping habits.

    Cole Smead, a portfolio manager at Smead Capital Management, a $1.2bn Seattle-based equity fund, has started to buy Target shares which have fallen nearly 19 per cent this year and currently trade at their lowest level since 2014. Mr Smead believes consensus Wall Street opinion has become too negative about stronger US retailers.

    “We want to be where the majority of investors are not and are too scared to be, as all great and successful investing is done in the minority,” he said. “How many S&P 500 companies can be bought at 11 times free cash flow? If consensus is wrong we can make multiples on our original investment, which is hard to say about most US large-cap stocks today.”

    Others that have started to take up tentative positions in bombed-out retail shares include a number of so-called “Tiger Cub” hedge funds who trained under, or were seeded by, the veteran investor Julian Robertson at Tiger Management — many of whom have also been heavily invested in online retailers.

    Discovery Capital Management, run by Robertson protégé Robert Citrone, has bought shares in Macy’s while Maverick Capital, run by Lee Ainslie, purchased a small position in JC Penney in the second quarter, according to US regulatory filings. Tiger Global, run by Chase Coleman and a large and long-time owner of Amazon shares, bought a tiny position in JC Penney.

    Consensus opinion has become so negative on the sector that the number of hedge funds shorting shares in certain retailers has hit the highest level since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

    So-called short interest tracks the amount of shares of a company that have been loaned out to hedge funds for a fee, who then sell them in the hope of buying back the shares more cheaply in the future.

    Currently 36 per cent of the free float shares of JC Penney are out on loan, down from 42 per cent in August but still running at a five-year high, according to data from Markit. Short interest in Macy’s, meanwhile, is at the highest level since 2008 at 10 per cent of its free float, while speculators have taken out 7.6 per cent of Target shares on loan to sell short.

    While this allows bearish funds to profit from further falls in these retailer’s shares short positions must also be closed by buying back the borrowed stock at some point. This means heavily shorted companies such as the US retailers have a sizeable number of future forced buyers as a result of the large amount of short interest.

    Those seeking deep value in struggling retailers may have to wait some time to be rewarded. Bruce Berkowitz, the well-followed value investor, has held a large amount of his Fairholme fund in shares of Sears for many years, with the fund currently holding a quarter of its assets in the retailer after increasing its bet this year.

    https://www.ft.com/content/93b504a6-...5-648314d2c72c

  4. #4
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    Macy's Isn't Cutting Its Dividend, So What Are You Waiting For?

    Seeking Alpha
    Oct. 3.17

    Macy's has been one of the most hated stocks on Wall Street this year. One could easily argue that it has become a proxy for Wall Street's hatred of all brick and mortar retail/department stores. A simple, rational look at the company however shows that negative sentiment has been more of a problem for Macy's than negative fundamentals. Macy's is by no means failing. They are still asset rich and generating an enormous amount of free cash flow relative to their market value. Their debt is declining, their bonds are undervalued, and their stock is priced as if the company will die. Macy's 7%+ dividend combined with just minimal price appreciation will allow investors to beat long term market averages. I believe that when investors discard the noise and focus on a few key things, there becomes no question that Macy's is one of the best deals on Wall Street today.

    Months ago, CNBC posted this piece on Macy's. In it, Jim Cramer mentioned that Macy's, while cheap, profitable, and asset heavy, had $15 billion of debt. He says that this is a "red flag" for shareholders. While some might immediately pick up on what's wrong with this statement, most won't, nor will they question it. So let's look at the balance sheet. A quick look at raw data from SEC filings shows that Macy's has nowhere near $15 billion of debt. In fact, total debt is only $6.3 billion. Net of cash, it's only $5.5 billion. With such a wildly incorrect statement going out from one of the leaders in financial news and months later still not being corrected, it becomes easy to see how such sentiment can impact stock prices. Negative sentiment feeds on itself and can feel like a company is being sucked into a vortex, and no amount of disclosure can fight it. When sentiment is terrible, people accept things that may not even be true, and they sell shares in companies they might not otherwise sell. Often times the best thing for a company to do is just focus on fundamentals and capital allocation to take advantage of the situation.

    So, let's be clear on some facts. Macy's makes serious money. Cash from operations, an accounting term for how much money a company brings in from running the business, was $1.8 billion last year. Free cash flow was $900 million. So far this year, cash from operations is running close to what it was last year around $550 million, but with Christmas coming up, the bulk of 2017's cash flow has yet to come in.

    Now, before I go further into the positives that Wall Street is not giving Macy's credit for, I want to go ahead and talk about the negatives that are so obviously impacting the stock price. Sales are declining, and no one wants to own a dying business. Expense deleveraging is brutal, and even billions of dollars of assets aren't worth anything if they have to be sold to keep the business alive.

    It's not that I am oblivious to all of these things, but at the end of the day, Macy's is a living, breathing entity. If sales decline further, and indeed they are predicted to decline 2% this year, Macy's does not have to sit back helplessly. They can be, and they have been, very aggressive in cutting SG&A expenses. As gross margin has declined this year, SG&A expenses have declined to offset nearly half of the lost margin. In addition, Macy's is realizing some serious interest expense savings due to debt repayments and repurchases that I will talk about later.

    Macy's can focus on things that are working, such as Backstage. They can consolidate stores and sell or redevelop excess real estate, they can rent space in existing stores to mutually beneficial third party retailers, and they can test idea after idea and keep testing until they find things that connect with customers. In fact Macy's is doing all of these things already. The problem is, testing, consolidating stores, and redeveloping and repurposing real estate takes time, and Wall Street is very impatient.

    In addition, something investors often forget about is that the risk/reward of owning a stock changes as the valuation changes. The simple reality is that when you have a P/E or P/FCF ratio in the single digits, it's fair to say that a huge amount of problems are already being priced in. Macy's currently trades at between six and seven times free cash flow. In other words, a lot of pain and problems are already well factored into the share price. Any improvement in operating metrics and Macy's stock could double in the blink of an eye.

    With all that said, let's talk more specifically about some positives that aren't being factored into Macy's share price.

    Macy's credit card business alone is worth half the current share price.

    Macy's credit card earned $363 million in the first half of 2017. This number was unchanged from the first half of 2016. People who forget how valuable that level of earnings is over time should use a present value calculator like the one found here and play around with the numbers. For example, if one were to project $750 million of annual profit from the credit card for ten years, discounted by 10%, then the present value of that business alone is half the current value of Macy's. Real life examples of how valuable retailers credit cards can be are evidenced by Target selling its credit card business to TD Bank for $5.7 billion or Nordstrom also selling its credit card business to TD Bank for $2.2 billion

    Macy's is rapidly repaying their debt, making the company safer.

    Macy's is actively repurchasing debt in the open market. In the first six months of 2017, Macy's repurchased $247 million of bonds in the open market. These bonds from the 2037, 2032, and 2034 vintages carry interest rates in excess of 6%. Macy's also retired, at maturity, $300 million of 7.45% bonds that came due this past July. These actions are indeed making the company safer, yet it goes completely unnoticed by most investors who are still focused on the swirling vortex of negativity surrounding Macy's and retailers in general. Even today, you can still buy Macy's bonds at sizable discounts to par.

    Macy's dividend alone is reason to buy the stock.

    Macy's dividend is well covered but investors obviously don't appreciate it. And yes, while it would be possible to imagine some hypothetical scenario where the company would cut its dividend, there is no clear reason for the company to cut the dividend today, or any time soon. Put simply, they generate enough cash and have no problems both paying the dividend and retiring debt. To give investors a sense of how valuable Macy's dividend is, remember that the long term average annual return for all S&P 500 stocks since 1928 is 10%.

    Macy's dividend yield on today's purchase price is 7.2%, which means the dividend alone is already offering the bulk of the return needed to achieve market beating returns. In fact, Macy's share price need only rise by 2.8% annually to give shareholders a return that matches the historical long term performance of the S&P 500, something that most fund managers fail to beat.

    If you think about that 2.8% for a second, with a $20 stock price, the stock need only rise by five cents per month on average to give shareholders a double digit annual return. Any price increase greater than five cents per month, or 60 cents per year, and investors will be beating the overwhelming majority of fund managers. The point here is simple. If you strip away the emotions, the negative sentiment, and look at cash flow, cash returns, and debt reduction, Macy's should stand out as a screaming bargain.

    All of these things I have mentioned so far are based on Macy's as an operating business. I haven't even mentioned real estate. As important as that real estate is, it's apparent that investors don't give Macy's any credit for their real estate anyway. The disconnect between real world value and stock market value is very wide, yet so well known that all I will do is reiterate that I cannot imagine any world where Macy's real estate is not worth more than the entire company right now.

    With debt reductions happening on a large scale, investors can begin to look forward to the resumption of share repurchases in the future. Macy's has been no stranger to repurchasing shares, with the total share count falling by almost 30% since 2011. The company has clearly stated that they intend to get back to this once their debt levels are reduced, and they are going as far as selling excess real estate and using the proceeds to accelerate debt repayment. I look forward to the resumption of share repurchases, as they allow the company itself to capture the cash that they once paid on repurchased shares.

    I recommend investors look beyond the noise, look through the negative sentiment, and consider both the shares of Macy's as well as the bonds of Macy's. A simple look at the fundamentals shows a company that, despite negative sentiment, continues to churn out cash and deleverage itself. As the company repays debt, it becomes safer. The dividend alone offers investors a chance to achieve a nearly 7% return even without the stock price going anywhere, leaving only minimal share price appreciation needed to achieve double digit returns. Ironically, it takes extreme negative sentiment to drive prices so low that returns become this easy. Enjoy it while it lasts.



    https://seekingalpha.com/article/411...vidend-waiting

  5. #5
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    How Some Malls Manage to Stay Alive Years After Losing Their Mojo

    Long-term contracts and regulatory hurdles mean many malls will continue to muddle along

    Esther Fung
    Oct. 17, 2017


    The U.S. has far too many malls scrambling to attract consumers at a time when online shopping is tightening its grip.

    That doesn’t mean middling malls will die quickly, however.

    Projections for hundreds of shopping centers to close in the next five years could prove too pessimistic. A more likely outcome, analysts said: many weaker malls will turn into zombies, staying open for years as they cycle through increasingly less successful retailers before finally being repurposed or leveled.

    “It takes a very long time to transition these malls,” said Thomas Dobrowski, executive managing director of capital markets at real estate services firm Newmark Knight Frank. “They don’t die of heart attacks.”

    Part of the reason for weak malls’ persistence lies in contracts signed years or decades ago. Landlords typically strike leases of 10 or 20 years with multiple tenants, making speedy exits difficult. In some cases, lease buyouts can be negotiated, but the process can be expensive and lengthy.

    Owners hoping to close malls and redevelop them for other uses might also run into regulatory hurdles. Getting buy-in from the local community takes time and rezoning approvals might not happen, especially in areas where sales tax revenue makes up a big chunk of the local government’s budget.

    Of the 41 malls Mr. Dobrowski has helped to sell since 2012, most of which were distressed sales, only one, Granite Run Mall in Media, Penn., has been closed and redeveloped. The others are still operating as malls.

    The two-story Granite Run Mall was foreclosed on in 2010 after struggling with vacancies. It was sold in 2013 to BET Investments, which is redeveloping the site into a mixed-use property with open-air retail, entertainment and roughly 400 apartments. The demolition started only in 2016 as the firm waited for leases to expire and for government approvals for the redevelopment.

    “You can’t just tear it down while tenants are in there,” said Bruce Toll, principal at BET Investments and a co-founder of home builder Toll Brothers Inc.

    Roughly 200 malls have closed since 2007, according to Newmark Knight Frank. But the amount of square feet of retail space has increased 10.4% over the same period, according to data from CoStar Group . Part of that is due to the continued development of mixed-use centers in urban markets, but the steady growth in supply is also partly due to the slow pace of demolishing or transforming struggling malls for other uses.

    Between 2007 and 2016, at least 275 enclosed malls, strip malls and open-air shopping centers were foreclosed on after their owners ran into difficulties repaying their securitized mortgage loans, according to data from Trepp Inc. Most of the properties live on as retail entities, with some adding medical clinics, tax and insurance offices, and gyms to their tenant mix.

    After foreclosure, distressed retail assets are sometimes sold at rock-bottom prices. Some owners do minimal work on their newly acquired shopping centers because operating them at high vacancy rates might still be profitable given lower property taxes and lower property maintenance bills.

    Other landlords might be compelled to improve properties, buying out leases from tenants that have fallen out of favor and renovating the vacated space. Some retailers or restaurant owners on the fence of whether to stay open might be persuaded to remain even if vacancy rates go up during the renovation period.

    “If you buy these assets dramatically below replacement costs and become one of the lowest cost providers of real estate within a region, you can repurpose these shopping centers for alternative uses,” said Andy Weiner, president at Houston-based real-estate investment firm RockStep Capital, which invests in shopping centers in small-town America alongside local businesses. Partners are aware of the regional and local issues and are able to identify substitute tenants such as entertainment, fitness, government offices, hospitality uses, he said.

    But it can take time.

    “There are some places where a mall shouldn’t have been built but has existed for 20 years,” said Brian Landes, a director of geographic information systems and location intelligence at real estate services firm Transwestern Commercial Services.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-som...ojo-1508245202

  6. #6
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    "Roughly 200 malls have closed since 2007 ... but the amount of square feet of retail space has increased 10.4% over the same period"


  7. #7
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    Target CEO says small-format stores twice as productive as traditional

    Richa Naidu
    October 19, 2017

    Sales per square foot at Target Corp’s 44 small-format stores are “easily double” that at traditional stores, Target Chief Executive Brian Cornell said on Thursday, after the retailer announced 11 new small-format stores opening this week.

    Target said it recorded an average of $300 in sales per square foot across its stores, compared with at least $600 in sales per square foot from its small-format stores.

    Target’s more than 70 newly remodeled stores have seen an average 2-4 percent increase in sales since being renovated, Cornell said at a news briefing on Thursday to launch the latest small-format store opposite the Macy’s Inc headquarters in Manhattan, New York.

    He added, however, that the unexpected success of the small-format and renovated stores would not affect previously announced full-year expected adjusted earnings of $4.34-$4.54 a share, saying these stores still represented a small percentage of overall sales.

    Cornell said Target aims to operate 130 small-format stores by the end of 2019.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-us...-idUSKBN1CN1L4

  8. #8
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    Offline strategy



    Vivo sets sights on exports as China’s home-market smartphone sales growth slows

    Zen Soo
    20 October, 2017

    Vivo, the Chinese smartphone company that’s come from nowhere to become the world’s fifth-largest mobile phone brand, said it’s setting its sights for fresh markets outside mainland China, where its low-price models can unseat pricier devices by Apple and Samsung.

    ...

    Vivo and its sibling smartphone brand Oppo, both produced by BBK Electronics, ... are known for their strong offline strategy, where sales is conducted primarily via thousands of retailers, who also manage the relationship with customers and promote the brands to engender loyalty.

    That strategy has worked, helping Vivo and Oppo edge out Xiaomi, once the favourite smartphone maker in China, from the top five brands on the mainland. Its offline reach also allowed Vivo and Oppo to reach consumers in lower-tier cities and rural areas.

    Vivo already sells smartphones in Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as India, Nepal and Pakistan. The brand is the third-most popular brand in India, with a 13 per cent share of the market.

    On top of offering premium smartphone specifications at a price tag lower than flagship devices by Apple and Samsung, Vivo devices are also known for their fast-charging capabilities and long battery life.

    http://www.scmp.com/tech/china-tech/...ket-smartphone
    Última edição por 5ms; 20-10-2017 às 12:51.

  9. #9
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    In Age of Amazon, Indie Toy Stores, Like Indie Bookstores, Hold Their Own

    Liz Button
    Oct 05, 2017

    In the face of Amazon’s ever-increasing market dominance, many independent retailers have been able to thrive by relying on the very nature of their business: the experience they provide for customers, the types of products they sell, and the local connections they create.

    Here, Bookselling This Week looks at the similar strengths of independent brick-and-mortar toy retailers and independent bookstores; previously, BTW compared bookstores’ strengths to those of indie hardware stores and indie running retail stores.

    Providing good service is all about providing a top-notch customer experience, and indie toy stores, like indie bookstores, have a particular ability to stage fun events that engage with customers, according to Kimberly Mosley, president of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA).

    ASTRA, a Chicago-based international not-for-profit trade organization, serves 1,645 members of the specialty toy industry, including 811 independent retailers as well as toy manufacturers, sales representatives, and affiliate members.

    According to Mosley, indie toy stores tend to be very creative with the types of events they put on at their stores, which may include game nights for kids and/or adults, arts and crafts events, and story times, whether or not the store carries books.

    In addition to providing in-person and online education, training, and certification programs for toy retailers, ASTRA also organizes an annual Neighborhood Toy Store Day (November 11 this year), similar to the book industry’s Independent Bookstore Day. Every November, indie toy store owners kick off the fourth quarter holiday buying season by opening their doors and inviting in the community for exciting sales and events.

    “When I think of personal service, I think of whether I can call and say, ‘Hey, I need a toy that’s already wrapped by the time I get there because I’m late for a birthday party,’” said Mosley. “But the full customer experience includes the fact that they’re going to have Santa Claus and I can bring my child to meet him, or that I can meet an author I like.”

    When it comes to the nature of the products they sell, Mosley said indie toy retailers are also likelier to have more feature-rich kinds of products on their shelves, so staff will be more knowledgeable and are able to explain to the customer how to use the product and what it can do.

    “We feel like the doors to the toy store are always open. There’s more opportunity to come into your local independent toy store and have the owner be willing to unbox an item and let the child put their hands on it and play with it — or the parent, so he or she can gain a better understanding of how to play with the toy,” Mosley said.

    According to ASTRA’s research, the independent toy retail market, like the indie bookstore market, is currently doing well, as evidenced by statistics that show growth in toy sales over the past couple of years, said Mosley.

    “We know that customers have multiple options: they can buy online, they can buy from a big-box, mass market store, or they can buy from an indie store. We believe that there are pluses and minuses to any of those channels, and we think we’ve seen that customers understand that as well,” she said.

    Like indie bookstores, Mosley said, toy stores have adapted in the age of Amazon and changed the way they do business. To that end, many independent toy retailers have realized the utility of selling their products online, and ASTRA’s recent statistics show that about half of their brick-and-mortar retailer members also sell online; however, at the moment, Mosley said ASTRA does not have detailed statistics on whether these retailers are more likely to sell through their own websites, through online third-party sellers like Amazon or Zulily, or through social media sites with retail capabilities, such as Pinterest.

    “I think toy store owners have realized their unique value proposition and what they are bringing to the table that makes them distinct from a big-box or an online purchase, and they’re doing things to make sure that the customer recognizes and understands that,” said Mosley. “Our retailers, for the most part, are not apologetic that their price might be a little higher than what someone could find on Amazon, and they make sure that the customer understands the advantages of being able to shop in their store as opposed to shopping in other channels.”

    Indie toy stores are also very likely to be part of their local communities, said Mosley, which customers recognize. Indie toy stores’ efforts can include sponsoring local festivals or sports teams; collecting money for local charities; hiring staff from the area; or participating in community events.

    “Their customers tend to feel like, this is my neighborhood toy store, as opposed to with a big-box or Amazon type of purchase,” Mosley said.

    In addition to members of the community, many toy brands and manufacturers that sell to retailers also realize the importance of the independent toy channel, and some find ways to specially market to them, according to Mosley.

    “There are certain toy manufacturers that have always distributed only to independent toy retailers, and that is usually because their product does better in an indie compared to if it were to sit on a shelf in a big-box store or be sold online,” said Mosley. “They can benefit from selling their product in an environment where the owner can unbox the toy and explain to the customers how to use it.”

    Like some book publishers, certain manufacturers will provide specials, discounts, or advantageous pricing and terms, such as lower minimums, to independently owned and operated retailers in order to help those retailers succeed. Some of these manufacturers, said Mosley, feel very strongly about not selling their products online.

    In addition, said Mosley, some toy manufacturers that will not sell online and only sell to either big-box or to local independently owned toy retailers do so because physical stores are easier than online sellers to monitor for bad or unscrupulous business practices.

    “In recent years, we’ve also seen our retailers begin to diversify their product mix more, including some beginning to focus more on adult gaming,” added Mosley. “More toy store owners are also starting to carry books, and more bookstore owners are starting to carry toys. Toy retailers are beginning to carry more hobby and gift kinds of products. There’s a lot of diversification going on.”

    But the main quality that indie booksellers and indie toy retailers seem to have in common, said Mosley, is a passion for their product and for what they do.

    “Our toy retailers have a passion for quality — and safe — play products,” said Mosley. “We believe that the toys sold in our toy stores become the toy that is handed down generation after generation, as opposed to the toy that ends up at the bottom of the toy box.”

    http://www.bookweb.org/news/age-amaz...eir-own-101087

  10. #10
    WHT-BR Top Member
    Data de Ingresso
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    18,556

    off-topic: Retailers seek to reduce $50 billion in fees to card companies

    Greg Stohr
    October 16, 2017

    The U.S. Supreme Court accepted a case that could roil the credit-card business, agreeing Monday to consider reviving government allegations that American Express Co. thwarts competition by prohibiting merchants from steering customers to cards with lower fees.

    A federal appeals court had thrown out the lawsuit, saying the U.S. government and 11 states failed to prove that the American Express rules harmed cardholders as well as merchants.

    The Supreme Court’s decision to take the case offers new hope to retailers trying to reduce the $50 billion in fees they pay to credit-card companies each year. It’s a boost for Discover Card Services, which says the rules undercut its ability to compete with American Express.

    AmEx shares dropped 1.1 percent to $91.88 at 12:25 p.m. in New York, the biggest decline since September and the second-worst performance in the 67-company S&P 500 Financials Index. Discover gained as much as 2 percent, the most since September.

    The states asked the Supreme Court to intervene, pointing to the "astronomical number" of credit-card transactions each year -- 22 billion totaling more than $2 trillion in 2011, according to court documents.

    "Whether assessed from the perspective of consumers or from that of merchants, this case’s importance cannot be overstated," Ohio officials argued for the group.

    While the U.S. Justice Department also sued American Express, it didn’t join the appeal to the Supreme Court. The Trump administration said that, while the appeals court ruling was wrong, the case didn’t meet the Supreme Court’s usual standards for review.

    Using Leverage

    The justices will hear arguments early next year and rule by June.

    Antitrust enforcers accused American Express of using its leverage over merchants to thwart competition from cards that would charge retailers lower fees. American Express’s agreements with retailers contain an "anti-steering" provision that bars them from doing anything to encourage the use of competing cards, such as offering discounts.

    The Justice Department and states said the effect was to thwart rivals like Discover, which tried in the 1990s to adopt a low-cost business model, and to ensure that retailers would continue to pay high fees.

    American Express urged the Supreme Court not to hear the case, saying the appeals court was correct. That ruling "protects a consumer’s right to choose how they pay, prevents our card members from being discriminated against and promotes competition in the payments industry,” Andrew Johnson, a spokesman for AmEx, said in an emailed statement.

    In court papers, the company said merchant fees help pay for cardholder rewards and that antitrust enforcers failed to account for those benefits.

    "AmEx uses the vast majority of merchant discount fee revenue to pay valuable benefits to cardholders to incentivize them to obtain and use an AmEx card at that merchant rather than cards issued on other networks," the company argued.

    A spokesman for Discover declined to comment.

    The lawsuits originally targeted Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. over their anti-steering policies as well. Those two companies settled the claims in 2010.

    The case is Ohio v. American Express, 16-1454.

    — With assistance by Jennifer Surane

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...-court-hearing

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