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Time for Some Housekeeping

There seems to be a new wave of thinking in many sectors of retailing today.

The economy obviously played a considerable role in this new thinking — but there are definitely other factors entering into the equation.

The new thinking seems to center around existing stores in a company's portfolio — and how they should stack up in relation to the newer, edgier counterparts of that retailer's family.

One of the underlying reasons for this change is the simple fact that this country has just too many stores — old, new or in between.

What a welcome relief to hear of some major players even talking publicly about upgrading and retrofitting some of their tired old warhorses — the ones that got them to where they are today but which have been long ignored in terms of ease of shopping, aesthetics and general retailing changes.

So it was refreshing to hear about Target's plan to update some of its tired old soldiers — stores that have served the company well but were in need of a major overhaul in configuration, lighting, layout and merchandising.

Walmart was one of the first of the majors to undertake some of this, but there still are far too many of the old soldiers in its portfolio.

We keep reading about the many different retailers — on every level of the price spectrum and in every product category — that have spent the past decade in a mad race to open stores in some of the most questionable venues.

And then there are retailers like Sears and Kmart that essentially are viewing their stores as fob points for consumers Internet purchases — expensive drop-off points that haven't seen a major cleaning or new light bulbs in a long time.

This new awareness of viability of store locales is becoming more and more evident in both the home textiles and the furniture world. There are increasing signs that refurbishing is a key point — not another new locale.

With the Internet ever looming larger as a retailing force, it bodes well — no, it is critical— for retailers to look at their box inventory and bring the oldies but goodies up to speed.

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