New Year Brings Decision Time

Thomas Lee of the Minneapolis Star Tribune asked Carol Spieckerman to weigh in on where retail will go in the New Year . . .

In 2012, less will be more, according to retail expert Carol Spieckerman.

Struggling chains like Sears, Christopher & Banks, and Gap will continue to shut down stores to save cash. At the same time, retailers like Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy will experiment with smaller formats instead of building big-box stores, said Spieckerman, president of newmarketbuilders, a retail management-consulting firm based in Bentonville, Ark., home of Wal-Mart.

As consumers continue to flock to online shopping, traditional brick-and-mortar retailers have been seeking less-costly areas of growth instead of spending gobs of money on 125,000-plus-square-foot boxes.

Best Buy, based in Richfield, is rolling out Best Buy Mobile stores, while Minneapolis-based Target experiments with CityTarget in dense cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and Los Angeles. The smaller stores, which focus more on everyday essentials, are about half the size of normal Targets.

Still if shoppers also subscribe to the less-is-more philosophy, the economy could continue its anemic growth. Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of economic activity.

Read the full article.

Copyright © 2011 Star Tribune