Recently we have seen an unusual array of companies, representing distinct aspects of CSG’s seventeen market segment database of Discount Stores & Specialty Retailers, announcing sizeable investments in expansion, radical remodeling and renovation, as well as noteworthy cases of contraction of store prototype size.  The expansions and radical renovations would be great stories anytime but coming through during the doldrums of a protracted recession, they serve as indicators of the stunning levels of success these companies are reaching:
Disney Store plans to open its interactive concept stores prototype in more than 40 locations in 2011.  The company said that by the end of 2011, it will have 60 new concept stores in 16 major markets in North America and eight countries.

In spring 2012, the original Disney Store location at the Glendale Galleria in Glendale, Calif., will be remodeled to celebrate the retail chain’s 25th anniversary. First built in 1987, the store pioneered the entertainment retail concept. The Glendale store will be just one of many planned remodels in 2012.

New and remodeled Disney Store locations to open throughout the fall and winter of 2011 include:

Disney Store’s Florida Mall location in Orlando will be remodeled this fall with the new design, and Pembroke Lakes Mall in Pembroke Pines, Fla. will open an all-new location.
Locations in Canada’s West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta and Southcentre Mall in Calgary will open this fall.

Towne Center in Cincinnati will receive the first newly-designed Disney Store in the state of Ohio.

will celebrate the opening of Disney Store locations at La Plaza mall in McAllen, and Houston Galleria in Houston.

The first newly-designed Disney Store in Missouri will open at the St. Louis Galleria.
California will get two new locations this fall with stores opening in the Galleria at Roseville in Roseville, Calif. and Westfield Fashion Square in Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Dollar General announced its plans to expand its operations to California in 2012.
The California announcement comes on the heels of the company’s planned expansions into three new states in 2011 — Connecticut, Nevada and New Hampshire.
Marbles: The Brain Store, the Chicago-based retailer that sells toys and other products designed to stimulate and strengthen the brain, announced that it has received $5.5 million from private investors, which the company will use to open 10 stores on the East Coast and in Chicago this year.  Nine of the new shops will be in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maryland, with one in Chicago. Marbles is looking to expand to the West Coast and the South in 2012.
Target has unveiled the first wave of the Zellers sites it will be taking over in Canada, representing 105 locations in all 10 Canadian provinces.  The vast majority of the sites will become Target stores after securing the necessary construction approval for extensive renovation. The stores will open beginning in 2013.
The majority (45) of the locations are in Ontario, with 19 in Quebec. The other Canadian locations include 15 in British Columbia, 13 in Alberta, five Manitoba, two each in Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, and one each in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
Each selected site is subleased to Zellers and will continue to operate as a Zellers store for some time.  Six to nine months prior to opening as Target stores, the majority of stores will be closed for significant remodeling. On average, about $10 million will be invested in remodeling each location.

Target also announced that its Canadian headquarters will be located in Mississauga, Ontario. The company will occupy about 180,000 sq. ft. in a building that was built to LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Gold standards and is owned by Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan. After some remodeling, the majority of Target’s Canadian corporate team will begin occupying the space in early 2012.
Best Buy first announced plans to cut its big-box store square footage by 10 percent during the next three to five years and focus on boosting its online presence.  Shortly after this initial announcement, the company revealed that it plans to increase the size of its store reductions to a total of twenty percent, per store. 
Typically this would amount t
o reductions from about 45,000 square feet to about 36,000 square feet.  Further, the company hopes to sublease the resulting vacant space to other merchants including grocers, beauty supply stores and home furnishings retailers.  
Best Buy has reported disappointing financials in recent quarters and is shaking up its merchandising model.  However, one has to question how much cutting retail selling space will help its efforts against very strong online competition.  There will be some cost savings in real estate and personnel but one would hope that the company is already maximizing its Internet sales efforts.
Almost simultaneously Staples announced its plans to shrink its footprint with smaller stores that cost less to open and operate and reflect the trend of shoppers moving their focus online. 
Several years ago Office Depot decided to offer leasing options in some of its stores to non-competing retailers.  At the time many saw this as a sign of Office Depot’s financial concerns.  Now it seems perhaps they were correctly reading the future. 

Arthur Rosenberg, Senior Editor 
Arthur has worked at Chain Store Guide for 20 years. He received a B.A. degree from City College of New York and attained a master’s degree in electronic communications from Brooklyn College. Please contact him if you have questions or comments.