2005 Retail gains outpace losses

Filed under: News |

Retail development continued to grow in 2005, and announcements for several large developments and national chains targeting Colorado Springs made news.

Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart continued its domination of the retail market by announcing in 2005 plans for two Colorado Springs stores.

The 200,000-square-foot Wal-Mart in Monument Marketplace will anchor one of the largest retail developments in El Paso County. Home Depot opened in Monument Marketplace earlier this year and Kohl’s will open next year in the development as well. When it’s finished, Monument Marketplace will contain 620,000 square feet of retail space.

The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners approved a Wal-Mart in Falcon. The retail giant is purchasing more than 20 acres at the southwest corner of Meridian and Woodmen roads.

The new Wal-Marts will join nine others in the Pikes Peak region.

First and Main

Colorado Springs’ largest retail development, with about 1.25 million square feet of retail space, is still growing. In 2005, several new stores opened or started building at the development, which stretches from Barnes Road to Centennial Boulevard.

Created by Nor’Wood Development Group, the 138-acre retail development serves more than 350,000 people in the northeast quarter of Colorado Springs.

The new development includes Ross Dress for Less, Fox & Hound Restaurant, Dress Barn, Honey Baked Ham and Wahoo’s Fish Tacos – all of which will be breaking ground in early 2006.

T.J. Maxx and More started construction in 2005 and Panera Bread, Rock Bottom Brewery and Old Chicago opened new restaurants.

Gregory Stoffel of Gregory Stoffel and Associates, based in Irvine, Calif., was hired in the late 1990s to provide retail development strategies and feasibility studies for the fledgling project.

“What first occurred to me was that Colorado Springs was underserved by quality retail,” he said. “That’s one thing that really distinguishes what Nor’Wood has done.”

Casual Corner leaves

Alliance Brand Retail Group sold off several chains in 2005, leaving five empty spaces at the Shops at Briargate. Casual Corner, Casual Corner Annex, Petite Sophisticate, August Max and Adrienne Vittideni all will close this month, leaving roughly 10,000 square feet of retail space vacant at the 2-year-old center.

No new tenants have been announced for the spaces.

BRAC big business

Fort Carson’s gain of 4,000 military personnel as part of the 2005 base realignment and closure process will benefit Colorado Springs businesses.

“We’ve received the fourth highest gain across the country,” said Kara Roberts, vice president of business expansion and retention for the Greater Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp.

The service industry and retailers, such as dry cleaners and restaurants, will benefit most from the increase in military personnel, she said. The EDC estimates that the annual economic impact will be more than $250 million in “direct and indirect” payroll.

Major retail trends

In 2005, marketing for retailers focused on aging baby boomers and the disappearing middle class.

Mick Jagger sang, “What a drag it is growing old.” That is, unless you’re a member of the largest demographic group in national history, with most of the nation’s net worth, and the ear of business marketers and advertising professionals.

With control of 70 percent of the total net worth in the United States, baby boomers’ wishes and whims dominate the business market. Experts say smart marketers, from ski resorts to clothing stores, should focus on addressing the needs of those customers.

“We conducted a study with the hypothesis that people over 50 felt slighted by advertising and that those people are in a different place than people in their 30s and 40s. Those marketing needs should be addressed,” said Matt Thornhill of the Boomer Project, a consulting group that provides marketing and advertising ideas aimed at the baby boomer generation. “We discovered that we were right, and if you want to grow your business in the next 10, 15 years, you should pay attention.”

The message from economic experts and business owners is clear: Change business practices or be affected by the loss of middle-class incomes.

Skyrocketing health care costs and disappearing jobs are contributing to the shrinking of America’s middle class, which can negatively affect businesses that depend on that market segment.

From 1980 to 2003, the percentage of households with middle-class incomes declined by 7 percent. During the same time, poverty rates inched upward, with more than 1.1 million additional people living below the poverty level in 2004, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Innovate. That’s the way to survive. The message to business is simple: You need to create new intellectual property,” said Dave Anderson of the Colorado Springs Manufacturing Task Force. “Look for opportunities to apply the new global logistics – whether you’re using Fed Ex or the Internet. It makes more of the world economy available to you. If you fail professionally to innovate, you’ll sink in the tar pit like the dinosaurs.”

Malls buck trends

While some refer to malls as “dinosaurs,” both Colorado Springs malls are succeeding, with new-to-market stores and increasing end-of-year sales.

While sales were down at malls nationwide, Diane Loschen reported individual store sales increases in November from 5 percent to 102 percent above 2004.

“There’s no question that traditional shopping malls have to get creative,” she said. “They have to reinvent themselves with re-merchandising or they will become dinosaurs. You have to re-lease the space as newer stores come on the market. Changing stores inside the mall keeps the experience dynamic.”

The Citadel saw several new stores in 2005: junior anchor Steve and Barry’s, Hollister’s and Sportsman’s Warehouse.

Chapel Hills Mall also saw increased traffic during 2005, with sales increases and new stores, such as jewelry store BAM.

Amy.Gillentine@csbj.com