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New Big Lots units target more affluent areas

Columbus, Ohio –  Big Lots, which currently operated 1,361 units in 47 states, plans to open 80 new units this year and close up to 40 locations for net store growth of 40 stores, or approximately 3%.

The company sees “a meaningful opportunity” for growth at its “A” locations – stores in higher-income neighborhoods – and estimates opening about 30 such new sites this year.

“This is a major step forward for our company and has been made possible by the softening of the commercial real estate market and the strength of our improving performance over the last several years,” said Chuck Haubiel, legal and real estate senior vice president during the company’s quarterly conference call.

He added that higher quality and more branded merchandise assortments along with improvements in store standards and customer service “have given us the confidence that we can be successful in these better locations where the new customer base has a somewhat higher level of expectations in terms of the in-store shopping experience.”

Last year’s test of eight “A” store exceeded initial sales goals by 10% to 15% and are trending to sales of a little over $4 million per store, about $190 per foot for their first full year, he said.

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