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Retail Briefs

Seasonal Shoppers in Financial Funk

The number of consumers that feel worse off financially this Christmas season has risen to almost one third of all Americans (31.8%) compared to 18.5% last year, according to a new national survey by America's Research Group (ARG). Britt Beemer, founder of ARG, has therefore forecast a seasonal retail sales rise of just 2%, which he said is among his "lowest Christmas forecasts in a decade." Beemer has accurately forecasted retail sales at Christmas in 15 out of the past 16 years, the company said.

Bargain-hunting shoppers will reign supreme, ARG found, as 81.6% expect retailers to cut prices just before Christmas, up from 76.5% last year. Nearly half (46.5%) will wait for 50% off this season before they buy, up from 39.5% last year. What's more, 78.0% believe in 60% off sales during Christmas.

Gordon Bros. to Sell Bombay Leases

The Bombay Company, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this fall, will hire DJM Realty to sell off all 335 store leases and five distribution center leases in the U.S. Liquidators Hilco Merchant Resources and Gordon Bros. teamed up to acquire Bombay assets; DJM is a unit of Gordon Bros.

The companies anticipate an auction on the properties in mid-December. Bombay's U.S. stores are concentrated in the Northeast (73 stores), the Southeast (98 stores), the Midwest (50 stores) and California (53 stores).

Shopko Plans New Stores for 2008

Northern-Midwest upscale discounter Shopko will add two new stores in fall 2008, with locations in Sussex, Wis. and Northbranch, Minn. For the first time in six years, the $2.2 billion retailer earlier this year broke ground for a new store; that unit, to open next spring in Suamico, Wis., "is a model for the future of Shopko," said Michael MacDonald, chairman and ceo. The company is also adopting a new in-store color palette, signage and aisle patterns across its 132 units.

Kathwari Inks Deal with Ethan Allen

Farooq Kathwari, chairman, president and ceo of retailer Ethan Allen since 1988, has signed a new contract good until at least 2012. According to an SEC filing, his new deal calls for a base salary of $1.13 million, up slightly from the $1.1 million he was paid during the company's most recent fiscal year ended June 30. He is also entitled to an annual bonus based on operating earnings. In addition, he received options to purchase 150,000 shares of common stock at $34.03 per share and will receive additional options at various dates throughout the life of the contract. Kathwari already is the company's largest shareholder with 3.97 million shares, or 12.83% of the total, as of June 30. The contract includes two automatic one-year renewals beyond July 1, 2012.

(Reported by Larry Thomas, business editor of Furniture Today, an HTT sister publication.)

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