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Retail Briefs

Mervyn's Expected to Liquidate

Mervyn's late last week was expected to announce it would move to liquidate its remaining 175 stores. The mid-tier retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July. Earlier this month, cheap-chic apparel chain Forever 21 submitted a bid to buy the bulk of Mervyn's locations. In September, Mervyns announced it would close 26 stores by November as part of a hoped-for reorganization. Earlier this month, it announced it would lay off a substantial – but unspecified – number of employees.

Belk Launches E-commerce Unit

Belk last week launched its e-commerce division, including a website with 50,000 items in apparel, accessories, shoes, cosmetics, home and gift; a call center in Melbourne, Fla.; and a new 147,000-square-foot fulfillment facility is in Pineville, N.C. Heading the unit is Steve Duchelle, svp, e-commerce, who joined Belk last fall after stints with The Bombay Company, RadioShack and Circuit City.

"This is an exciting opportunity for Belk to showcase and extend our brand and identity beyond our 16-state footprint," said McKay Belk, president and chief merchandising officer for the 300-store retailer. The company plans to have more than 100,000 items available online by the end of the year.

India Styles Topic of 7W Event

Showroom building 7 West New York tips off its Designer Day series with "The Influence of India on Trends, Entertainment, Style and Living," a presentation by Marilyn Hale, managing director of Shastra Home Inc., a lifestyle and home entertaining wholesale company.

Hale will discuss how she has worked with India-based factories and small manufacturers to position them for trend and niche markets in the United States, enabling her to establish a U.S. customer base for many of India's entrepreneurial artisans. Select products will be on display; the one-hour talk starts at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, followed by a complimentary lunch of Indian delicacies. To reserve, call (646) 778-3209 or visit www.7wnewyork.com.

Ultra-Rich Spending 'Strategically'

Ultra-affluent shoppers are still spending, only "more strategically," according to a survey by Unity Marketing. Ultra-affluent consumers — with incomes of $250,000 and up — have cut spending on luxuries by nearly 20% in 2008 vs. last year. Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing, said about half the ultra group are preparing lists, researching purchases and doing comparison shopping.

They are shopping less frequently, cutting back on restaurant dining, streamlining fashion purchases by concentrating more on sales, visiting outlets, and opting for less premium brands. A less-affluent group — those making $100,000 to $249,999 — has also cut back, by 10%, in the first three quarters of 2008 vs. 2007.

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