Easter gets shoppers in mood for spring outfits

After a long, cold winter, consumers are eager to shop this Easter, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2007 Easter Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey.
This year, shoppers who plan to celebrate Easter (79.5 percent) are expected to spend an average of $135.07, up 11 percent from last year’s $121.72 per person. Total holiday spending is expected to reach $14.37 billion.
Spending is likely to increase across the board, with the average shopper planning to invest the most for a spring outfit ($26.03) and food for an Easter meal ($37.56). Other popular Easter purchases include candy ($18.53), gifts ($20.61), flowers ($9.63) and decorations ($7.63).
“Easter is a critical time for apparel retailers,” said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin. “Retailers will be looking to the warmer weather to help stimulate the sale of spring apparel.”
Department stores will be a popular shopping destination, with 22 percent more consumers planning to shop there this year than last year (36.8 percent vs. 30 percent). Other popular shopping options for Easter include specialty clothing stores (26.7 percent), specialty stores (23.7 percent), online (12.7 percent) and catalog (5.6 percent). Although discount stores will see the most traffic, they won’t see as much as last year (57.2 vs. 59.6 percent).
Shoppers between the ages of 25 and 34 will spend the most per person this year ($147.47). Coming in second is the 45 to 54 age group ($144.13), followed by 35- to 44-year-olds ($139.36) and 18- to 24-year-olds ($137.30).

Borders changes focus

For the past six years, Borders Group has made it a priority to expand its brick and mortar stores, ignoring the increasing trend toward online book and music sales, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.
The retailer is now changing course, having announced it will create a Web site and will halt store expansion plans. It also said it plans to close up to half its 564 Waldenbooks stores and sell or franchise its 73 overseas stores by the end of 2008.
The book retailer operates 499 Borders stores in the United States.
The company also plans to unveil a revamped design for its core Borders stores, which will include “digital centers” that provide information and products for digital entertainment such as e-books and MP3 players.
The company is forming an e-commerce division after pulling out of a deal it made in 2001 to sell its merchandise through Amazon.com.
Borders recorded a net loss of $151.3 million in 2006, compared to a net profit of $101 million in 2005. For 2006, total sales increased 1.5 percent to $2.75 billion. For the fourth quarter, same-store sales decreased 2.8 percent. For the year, they decreased 2.2 percent.

Souper Salad buys Grandy’s

Souper Salad Inc., the 87-unit buffet restaurant chain, has acquired most of the assets of 72-unit Grandy’s Inc. from Spectrum Restaurant Group.
Terms of the deal, which was part of a bankruptcy court auction, were not disclosed. However, Souper Salad said it was acquiring one company-owned restaurant, four units managed by Grandy’s and franchise agreements to 67 stores.
Souper Salad has units in 12 states, including Arizona, Colorado and Texas.
In August, Spectrum Restaurant Group of Irvine, Calif., filed its second Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in three years.
In 2005, Grandy’s reported systemwide sales of $60.1 million.

International retailer sold

Claire’s Stores Inc., a specialty retailer offering costume jewelry and accessories, has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of Apollo Management L.P., a New York-based private equity firm.
Under the terms of the agreement, Claire’s Stores Inc. shareholders will receive $33 for each share of common stock or Class A common stock that they hold, which represents a transaction value of about $3.1 billion.
Claire’s co-chairwomen and co-CEO’s Bonnie Schaefer and Marla Schaefer, who own a significant percentage of the voting power of the equity of Claire’s Stores Inc., entered into a separate agreement to vote their shares in favor of the merger.
Completion of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory review and the approval of the transaction by Claire’s Stores Inc.’s shareholders.

Dick’s, Zumiez going strong

According to Forbes, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Zumiez have proven to be contenders in the sports apparel and equipment retail business.
The Everett, Wash.-based Zumiez, a sports apparel and equipment retailer, said that it expects to post a fiscal 2007 profit above current Wall Street predictions.
Zumiez expects to post a profit of 94 cents to 96 cents per share for the year. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial predicted a profit of 92 cents per share. The company earned 73 cents per share in 2006.
Dick’s said it expects earnings and same-store sales growth during the first quarter and full year.
For the year, Dick’s sees net income between $2.37 and $2.40 per share, while analysts predicted earnings of $2.40 per share.
Joan Johnson covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.