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22 Major Retailers at Risk of Bankruptcy

· Displays

A recent report released by Moody’s Investors Services shows that 22 major retailers are currently subject to very high credit risk, meaning that they are at risk of bankruptcy. That’s up from the high of 19 major retailers that was recorded during the Great Recession.

The major retailers in distress include a number of major names in malls across the country, including Sears, Neiman Marcus, Charlotte Russe, Bon Ton, and David’s Bridal. Department stores and specialty stores are among the retailers facing the most economic difficulties. It has been reported that of the 22 companies on the list, seven would be facing over a billion dollars in debt, a truly exorbitant sum. This can be attributed primarily to maturities derived from asset-based loans and lines of credit.

However, it is important to note to overstate the troubles faced by the retail sector. While the world of online shopping has sparked some significant shifts in the retail world, it certainly won’t spell the end of malls across the country anytime soon. In other words, no, this isn’t the death of the brick-and-mortar store.

“The majority of retailers remain fundamentally healthy,” Charlie O’Shea, the lead analyst at Moody’s explained. “But as select groups of retailers continue to deteriorate — in particular department stores and specialty retailers — we believe the distressed ranks will keep growing, fueled in part by distinct vulnerabilities within the B2/B3 retail population.” B2/B3 refers to retail stores with a higher credit risk, meaning they are more likely to face financial difficulties.

As Moody’s noted, only about 15 percent of the retailers it analyzed for the report were at a high risk of bankruptcy, meaning the majority of the sector is still relatively economically healthy — or at least economically solvent.

Source:

http://www.chron.com/business/retail/article/22-Retailers-risk-bankruptcy-houston-11230905.php

 

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The Changing Role of the Retail Store

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These days, it is no secret that traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores are in fierce competition with online retailers. Given the widespread use of smartphones to access the internet and the ease and convenience of online shopping, it is no surprise that customers are increasingly forgoing a trip to the store in favor of clicking “purchase” online. This dynamic is having a significant effect on the role of the retail store.

According to research conducted by Avanade and EKN Research, roughly 4 out of 5 retail professionals worldwide currently believe that traditional sales are the main function of a retail store, but that is likely to change within the next several years. In fact, the researchers at Avanade and EKN Research found that by 2020, traditional sales activities will no longer be the main functions of retail stores, which means the role of the retail store is set to evolve considerably. So, if the primary role of the retail store won’t be traditional sales, then what will its new role be? Let’s take a look.

Acting as Distribution Centers

As customers consistently place orders online, retailers are leveraging retail stores as distribution points to make it easier for customers to pick up goods they’ve ordered via a retailer’s website or to ensure quicker dispatch to the customer. For example, Target allows customers to pick up orders in stores that they’ve made online. As of April, more than 40 percent of digital orders placed at Target.com were either picked up at or shipped from a store. By utilizing retail stores as miniature distribution centers from which online orders can be picked up, packed, and shipped or prepared for in-store pickup, retailers can maximize the efficiency of online ordering.

Providing Customers with Unique Experiences

Just because more and more people are making purchases online doesn’t mean that the retail store will inevitably fade away into the past. In fact, retail stores will likely remain important points of contact going forward. Online retail giant Amazon, for example, is beginning to open physical retail stores where it can connect with consumers.

As part of this, it is important to note that increasingly the role of the retail store is to provide an experience that a customer simply can’t get online. Specifically, it offers the opportunity to communicate with a retailer. At makeup store chain Sephora, for example, the emphasis is on engagement with the customer, with trained beauty advisors providing individualized advice, makeup workshops, and tutorials. Touchscreen kiosks allow customers to match makeup to their skin tones and hair color. Subsequently, while the store sees high levels of online orders, it also has a steady stream of customers in its stores because the stores deliver an experience that can’t be had online.

The Retail Store: Here to Stay

In conclusion, it is inevitable that changes in technology and consumer behavior will drive major changes to the role of the retail store. However, this doesn’t necessarily spell the imminent demise of brick-and-mortar stores. To the contrary, if retailers are able to adapt to these changes, they will situate themselves for long-term success.

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Research Shows That Most Female Mannequins Are Underweight

· Displays

A new study in the Journal of Eating Disorders has found that the majority of female mannequins in store windows are actually overwhelmingly underweight. As part of the study, researchers from the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom visited two major shopping districts in the country and found that all female mannequins represented body types that were underweight. In fact, the researchers noted that the average size of a female mannequin was “that of an extremely underweight human woman.” Conversely, just 8 percent of male mannequins were found to look underweight.

“Our survey produced consistent results; the body size of female mannequins represented that of extremely underweight human women,” lead researcher Eric Robinson explained. “Because ultra-thin ideals encourage the development of body image problems in young people, we need to change the environment to reduce emphasis on the value of extreme thinness. Given the prevalence of body image problems and disordered eating in young people is worryingly high, positive action that challenges communication of ultra-thin ideal may be of particular benefit to children, adolescents, and young adult females.”

The researchers ascertained the size of the mannequins and judged to what extent they were underweight by having two objective viewers compare the mannequins in store windows with the photos of the bodies of 10 adult females, each of which was given a BMI rating. Each observer was then asked which of the photos most closely matched the mannequin. The researchers noted that the sample size was quite small – limited to just 32 mannequins – and because the study was limited to the United Kingdom, it doesn’t give a full picture of mannequin weight globally. Therefore, more research is needed.

The researchers also noted that making mannequins bigger won’t solve the body image problems many women face. “We of course are not saying that altering the size of high-street fashion mannequins will on its own ‘solve’ body image problems,” Robinson said. “What we are instead saying is that presentation of ultra-thin female bodies is likely to reinforce inappropriate and unobtainable body ideals, so as a society we should be taking measures to stop this type of reinforcement.”

Sources:

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/female-mannequins-high-street-thin-underweight-unrealistic-severely-study-university-of-liverpool-a7714756.html

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/style-beauty/fashion/a9598410/mannequins-underweight-study/

 

 

 

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Why Slatwall Is Great for Retail Design

· Displays

Retal Perimeter Slatwall

Slatwall – Perfect for everything from fashion accessories to auto accessories!

It’s really a rarity to find a store that doesn’t use slatwall in one capacity or another. Slatwall is simply a staple of retail design thanks to its versatility and durability, and it’s without a doubt one of the most popular display solutions on the market. Wondering why you should use slatwall in your retail store? Take a look at these reasons why slatwall is great for retail design.

It’s Versatile and Adaptable

Slatwall can be adaptable to a range of different display types. For example, you might opt for a freestanding slatwall unit to display a complete outfit instead of a mannequin. Alternatively, you can install slatwall hooks along store walls to display items that are easily hung, while slatwall baskets can also be used for small items. This unrivaled versatility makes slatwall an incredibly popular option with retailers.

It’s Stylish

Slatwall can give your store an organized look, helping keep it tidy. For example, you can use slatwall displays behind cash registers or along walls to neatly hang your merchandise, maximizing visibility while still maintaining a clean look. Moreover, slatwall is easy to pair with a range of different materials, including acrylic, glass, and metal accessories. This enhances the visual appeal of slatwall displays. And, because slatwall is available in a vast array of laminates and veneers, it’s easy to find something that matches the aesthetics of your store.

In conclusion, slatwall can be a great addition to any retail store thanks to its versatility, adaptability, and style. Slatwall is available in a range of different fixture types and styles, so there is bound to be something to meet your needs. For apparel and gifts to jewelry and books, slatwall is the perfect display option for a range of different products.

For more information or to buy slatwall visit Subastralinc.com

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What Every Retailer Should Know about Zone Merchandising

· Displays

Zone merchandising helps every customer locate what he or she is looking for quickly, while simultaneously exposing them to products related to the product they want to buy. In zone merchandising, products are categorized into different “zones” (for example, clothing or kitchenware). The bigger the range of the inventory and the higher stock levels, the larger the zone. When well executed, zone merchandising can be an excellent way to increase sales in your store. So, what should you know about zone merchandising? Be sure to keep the following in mind.

Put Your Best Selling Products at the Back of Your Store

Primary zones, or those zones that contain your highest selling products, should always be placed at the back of your store. Secondary zones should be placed toward the front. That way, these items get more exposure as customers venture toward the back of your store, and there is a higher chance that someone might pick one up and put it in his or her cart. This strategy is very often employed in grocery stores. Milk and eggs will be situated at the back of the store so that customers have to pass by all sorts of unnecessary items like cereals, candy, and coffee before they get to what they’ve really come into the store to purchase. With any bit of luck, a customer who came in for just a gallon of milk might leave the store with another two or three items.

Put Impulse Buys Near Your Register

From chewing gum to candy bars to lip gloss, small impulse buys are best placed in a zone near to your register. That way, when customers are waiting in line to make a purchase, they will hopefully pick up another item or two.

Don’t Forget to Use Speed Bumps and Merchandise Outposts

Speed bumps and merchandise outposts — essentially fixtures of varying sizes that put merchandise along your store’s main avenues of traffic flow — slow your customers down as they move about your store, drawing their attention to certain products. Larger merchandise outposts present an excellent opportunity to showcasing special price stock or specific product groups like brand or seasonal collections, while smaller speed bumps are an excellent way to feature best sellers or hot new items.

In conclusion, zone merchandising can be an excellent strategy to employ in your retail store, and, if done well, could help you to significantly boost sales.

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How to Optimize Your Retail Floor Layout

· Displays

Floor-Plan

Wondering how to optimize your store’s layout? The truth is, there is no secret to perfecting store layout. Rather, the right layout for your store will depend on a number of different factors, including the type of goods you stock and the kind of shopping experience you are trying to create. However, there are a few options you should keep in mind. Let’s take a look.

The Grid Floorplan

In the grid floorplan, fixtures and displays run parallel to the walls, making use of every possible inch of space, including the corners. The major advantage of the grid floorplan is that is an excellent way to maximize use of both floor space and wall space. It’s also easy for retailers to categorize goods by type and stock shelves accordingly, creating different sections that are easy for customers to navigate and find what they are looking for. This can create an intuitive, hassle-free shopping experience, enabling customers to grab what they need and go. Moreover, with long rows of shelving, there is plenty of opportunity for end caps to display promotional items.

Because this floorplan is very easy for customers to navigate and makes such an efficient use of space, it is most commonly found in grocery stores, big box stores, and convenience stores. All in all, it tends to be best for small- to medium-sized retailers who have a fairly large inventory of shelf-stocked goods, like toys, books and magazines, food items, hardware, and home ware or kitchenware.

Keep in mind that this kind of layout is standard. Therefore, it isn’t a good option for stores that want to create an upscale or high-end environment with more of a branded feel. Because the layout also facilitates a kind of “grab and go” shopping experience (think grocery shopping), it isn’t the best option for retailers who are trying to create a relaxed browsing experience.

The Loop Floorplan

The loop floorplan allows retailers to create a guided shopping experience by establishing a defined pathway through a store. This has the advantage of exposing a customer to most items on display, as both the perimeter walls and the central shelving and display units are all pretty visible from any part of the store. The major advantage of the loop floorplan is that, in addition to offering high levels of customer exposure to your merchandise, it also pretty flexible. You can design the center of the store in a myriad of different configurations.

The loop floorplan is best for personal care stores, specialty retail stores, and apparel stores. It isn’t a good option for stores with a lot of shelf-stocked goods, as the resulting visual effect can feel cluttered and overwhelming to customers.

The Free Flow Floorplan

If you’re looking for a creative store layout, you will find it with a free flow floorplan. This allows maximum creativity when you’re configuring your store, and the layout can also be easily configured or changed. In this kind of floorplan, you can strategically place fixtures and displays in a way that forces customers to meander through your store, as opposed to just flying through and grabbing what they need.

As a rule of thumb, this layout tends to work best for upscale stores that are trying to create a highly branded and individualized shopping experience for customers. Therefore, this layout tends to be ideal for upscale accessory, jewelry, apparel, and personal care stores, as well as specialty brand stores.

In conclusion, there is no single best layout to optimize your store. Rather, the layout that will be best for your retail space will depend on the size of your store and the type of goods you stock.

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Everything You Need to Know about Invisible Mannequins

· Displays

Invisible Text

Invisible mannequins, sometimes also called ghost mannequins, provide the same utility as standard mannequins but are much more discrete. As they are designed using modular segmentation, entire sections of these mannequins can conveniently be removed so that they are completely out of sight. While the underlying form under the garment stays, there is nothing to reveal that a mannequin is underneath.

These mannequins can easily be reduced to a number of different forms, from just a torso to even just a butt/hip form. The options are endless, and they can be used to showcase a variety of different garments, including trousers, shirts, dresses, skirts, and even bathing suits. For example, when displaying a pair of trousers, the feet of the mannequin could be removed. Alternatively, when displaying a knee-length form-fitting pencil skirt, a retailer might opt to remove the mannequin’s feet and calves, so as not show any part of the mannequin that the skirt wouldn’t cover.

Invisible mannequins have a number of different uses. They commonly are used in fashion photography to give clothing a 3-D feel without showing any mannequin in the shot. These types of photos are a great alternative to paying models to model clothing. You’ll great results and sell more clothing online at a lesser cost. Additionally, these mannequins often are used in retail stores to display products in sleeker manner, without the mannequins detracting attention from the garment itself.

All in all, invisible mannequins are an excellent investment. These mannequins provide the same utility as normal mannequins do and are just are durable, but they provide more display options. Without a doubt, these mannequins will make a great addition to your repertoire, facilitating the stunning display of a vast array of garment types.

For More Information Visit Subastral Inc

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Women Pose Naked with Mannequins to Challenge Beauty Status Quo

· Displays

Venus

Canadian photographer Julia Busato is putting mannequins to unique use. In a powerful new photography series, Busato is photographing women naked with mannequins to juxtapose real bodies with the unrealistic expectations set by the world of fashion.

Busato got the idea for the project after a friend gave her a mannequin that she found while rummaging through a secondhand store. She purposefully pairs the mannequin with women who aren’t perceived to conform to what she feels is an arbitrary and rigid definition of beauty. For example, she has photographed new mothers and plus-sized models, one of whom wears an insulin pump to treat her diabetes.

Many have praised Busato’s photos — but she has also faced backlash for the series. While the photos have racked up an impressive 200,000 shares on Facebook alone, her account was reported several times, which resulted in it being banned from the social media site, something that she says has negatively impacted her business. Nevertheless, Busato has persevered, and she is still looking for new subjects to photograph to continue building the body of work. She hopes her photographs will inspire women to be more accepting of themselves and their bodies.

“Each person has their own personal story about how they don’t fit the standards expected from society,” Busato told the BBC, adding that the series of photographs is meant to inspire solidarity by showing women that they aren’t alone in their struggles with unrealistic beauty standards. “It lets people know that they aren’t alone and it’s OK to be different than the norm. Women are standing up for each other and supporting each other. The series is being shared all over the world and that brings me so much joy. The positivity is outweighing the negativity and bringing society’s stigmas to the forefront to be faced head on. I just want women to love themselves unconditionally because we are all beautiful in our own ways.”

Source:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/39326509/naked-mannequin-photographer-banned-from-facebook

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Will Amazon’s New Clothing Label Affect Retail Business?

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Amazon's New Clothing Label?

Online retail giant Amazon is reportedly gearing up to launch its own fashion line in the UK. For the line, which could be launched as early as this spring, Amazon is said to have recruited a range of executives in the UK apparel industry to support the launch, including Frances Russell, the ex-head of womenswear at Marks & Spencer, Karen Peacock previously the head of design of Mark & Spencer, and Glen George, Primark’s menswear buying director.

Amazon has already sold 60 million fashion items in the UK from third party suppliers, and recently added an impressive 350 new brands to its offerings, including Dorothy Perkins, Moschino, and watches from Ferragamo, making fashion one of the fastest growing categories for the online retailer. With its own clothing line, it will likely be able to capture an even bigger segment of the apparel retail business market.

Amazon’s move to launch a new clothing label could have a significant affect on retail business stores. While it is true that Amazon already sells clothes from third party suppliers in the UK, the company reportedly wants to work its way into the UK clothing market directly. This will without doubt, have an impact on online retailers, like the popular Asos and Boohoo. However, Amazon could also end up taking business away from high street retailers such as Marks & Spencer and Next.

With that being said, some analysts speculate that the impact of the new line on retail stores may not be immediate. Analysts have stressed that it will take time for Amazon to be recognized as a fashion brand. Ultimately, it will take the retail some time to get recognition with customers and be seen as an option comparable to major high street retailers. Moreover, there is still no official word on when the label will launch. While some have said spring, others have speculated that it will not be until later this year.

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Topshop Receives Criticism over Controversial Mannequin Display

· Displays

UK retailer Topshop is receiving a barrage of criticism over the use of ultra-thin mannequins. The retailer came under fire for its use of what customers deemed to be abnormally thin mannequins just two years ago and vowed to put a stop to the practice. The evident failure to do so has sparked a new round of criticism, with customers and several leading UK-based charities denouncing the brand across social media networks.

“It’s shocking to see the return of ultra-thin mannequins at Topshop, almost two years after the retailer said it will stop using them,” Denise Hatton, chief executive of the National Council of YMCAs and a founding partner of body image campaign Be Real, told the Telegraph. “Only ever seeing one body type in fashion advertising, particularly an extremely thin body type, risks creating an insidious pressure to attempt to become something we’re not. While many clothing brands and retailers have started to reflect society’s diversity in their advertising recently, reintroducing underweight mannequins back to the high street risks undoing all the great progress we’ve achieved over the last few years.”

This recent round of controversy was reportedly ignited when Zoe Mason, a mother out shopping with her daughters at the retailer, spotted the ultra-thin mannequins and posted a picture of them on social media with a scathing caption. The post has since been shared hundreds of times, garnering the brand a considerable amount of negative media attention.

Topshop has yet to publically comment on the criticism. In response to previous incidences, however, the company has defended its use of mannequins, saying that they aren’t supposed to represent real bodies. However, the company did make a promise to use more realistic-looking mannequins in 2014.

Overall, the incident illustrates how important it is for brands to be cognizant of the size of their mannequins. Failure to do so can alienate customers – and have a negative impact on a brand’s bottom line.

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