The Mall of America and Bloomington police have indefinitely boosted security at the mall after a large crowd of teenagers rampaged through the mall Monday, fighting with each other and assaulting shoppers.
The mall is also investigating suspicions that the violence was organized through social media, in particular through Facebook chatter, Executive Vice President of Operations Maureen Bausch told the Star Tribune.
A fight that started in the food court around 4:20 p.m. Monday quickly escalated into a group of 200 kids, ages 10 to 16, racing throughout the mall throwing punches, shoving shoppers, and hurling chairs, incidents that were captured on cell phones and posted to YouTube.
Monday was the most serious incident at the mall since 1995, when crowds of young people also brawled. The violence prompted the Mall of America to ban people under 16 from entering the mall on Friday and Saturday without an escort from parents and guardians.
Bausch said the mall would conduct a top to bottom review of security and mall procedures.
About 5 percent to 10 percent of stores shut their doors by 7:15 p.m., more than two hours before the mall closed, Bausch said.
Bausch said she did not know what kind of impact the incident had on business. The day after Christmas is one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
In a good sign for retailers, the National Retail Federation today now expects holiday retail sales to rise 3.8 percent to $469.1 billion, a full percentage point higher than its previous estimate of 2.8 percent.
The group cited a strong Black Friday weekend, led by midnight openings on the day after Thanksgiving, along with indications consumers still have plenty of gift buying to do as Christmas quickly approaches.
“Consumer spending this holiday season has surpassed expectations, though many shoppers continue to stick to their budgets and buy only what they need,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz.
If the NRF's prediction holds true (the group's forecasts tend to lean a bit on the optimistic side), one wonders how retailers would've fared had there been no Internet or Black Friday midnight openings.
Just some food for thought.
As a rule, I generally don't like to work during vacation (not really a rule, more like a law). But earlier this week, I was walking through downtown San Francisco with a friend and saw this:
Yes folks, that's one of Target Corp.'s new CityTarget formats, set to open next year in San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, and Los Angeles. The smaller stores, which focus more on everyday essentials, are about 60,000 to 100,000 square feet, compared to the usual 125,000 to 180,000 square foot big box locations.
CityTarget is one of the retailer's key strategies to boost growth, especially as online/mobile sales chip away at big box dominance. The smaller locations also allow retailers like Target and Wal-Mart to penetrate dense, urban markets where real estate is limited and local resistance to big boxes runs high.
In this particular case, Target chose its spot well. The store is located at 4th Street and Mission, near Union Square, a hot bed of retail and pedestrian traffic. Walk a few blocks and you'll find top tier retailers like Macy's, Nordstrom, Coach and Tiffany's.
I kind of wondered how Target managed to convince liberal San Francisco to approve its project.
Again, location matters. Target is building its store on the second floor of the Metreon complex, which has been hurting for tenants ever since Sony pulled out of the building five years ago.
Before Apple conquered retail, there was Sony's "Urban Entertainment Center," a massive real estate development dedicated to all things Sony. in 1999, the company opened such a concept in this location, a four story, 350,000 square building that offered dining, exhibitions, music, retail, and movies.
The concept failed to take off and Sony sold Metreon to mall developer Westfield Properties. Today, only an AMC IMAX movie theater and two restaurants remain at the location.
A shiny mutli-story Apple Store sits just a few blocks away, a reminder of how Apple succeeded where Sony failed. And just because we can't have enough irony in life, the Apple Store was led by Ron Johnson, who used to work at..you guessed it...Target.
Struggling women's apparel retailer Christopher & Banks Corp. said Tuesday that it will close its store in Albert Lea and convert its Roseville location into one of its new Christopher & Banks/CJ Banks "dual format" stores.
The Plymouth-based company also said it will close 69 stores across the country by the end of January 2012 and convert 25 locations into its dual format concept.
Earlier this month, Christopher & Banks said it will close 100 stores and that it had laid off fewer than 25 employees from its corporate headquarters and store operations.
The company is also seeking to restructure its remaining leases. Overall, Christopher & Banks will take a $5 million to $7 million charge related to employee severance costs and terminating leases.
Coming off a disastrous fiscal 2011, when the company lost $22.2 million, its worst annual loss, the company had high hopes for a recovery based on a renewed focus on merchandising.
However, Christopher & Banks' new clothing lines have gotten off to a shaky start. CEO Larry Barenbaum said the retailer "overengineered" its apparel lines and priced the clothing too high.
For the first half of fiscal 2012, the company said sales dropped 3.2 percent to $220.1 million compared to the same period a year ago. Sales at stores open for at least a year, a key way to measure retail growth, declined 5 percent.
With just one store closing in Minnesota, it appears Christopher & Banks believes its home state offers one of its best chances at survival. By the end of the restructuring, the retailer will operate 680 stores in 44 states, including 45 in Minnesota.
When Target, the Mall of America, and Best Buy said they will open at midnight on Black Friday, I was a bit dumbstruck.
"Where else is there left to go on Black Friday?" I told a colleague. "You can't really go any earlier than 12 a.m."
Unless you start Thursday.
Acting on cue, Wal-Mart Stores said Thursday it will open its toys, home, and apparel departments at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving, thereby upping the ante on retail crazy.
"Our customers told us they would rather stay up late to shop than get up early, so we're going to hold special events on Thanksgiving and Black Friday," Wal-Mart chief merchandising officer for U.S. stores Duncan Mac Naughton said in a statement.
There's actually some logic, perverse though it may be, in Mac Naughton's reasoning. As the unlucky retail reporter who has to cover Black Friday, I suppose it would be much easier to stay up to 10 p.m. on Thursday night than drag my butt out of bed before sunrise on Friday morning.
Come to think of it, maybe Congress should pass a law officially moving Black Friday to the Friday before Thanksgiving.
Or better yet, just move Thanksgiving back a week.
I'm sure the pilgrims won't mind.
Best Buy Co. Inc. said Friday that it will open its stores at midnight on the day after Thanksgiving.
The Richfield-based consumer electronics giant joins Target Corp. and nearly 100 retailers at the Mall of America in trying to get a jump start on Black Friday, the traditional start to the holiday shopping season.
Wary of high unemployment, shaky consumer confidence, and weak economic growth, retailers are trying everything they can to boost holiday-related sales, which can account for up to two thirds of annual sales.
“Black Friday is just the beginning,” Best Buy chief marketing officer Barry Judge said in a statement. “This commitment will come to life throughout the holiday season in a variety of offers and initiatives that give customers great values and the most convenient ways to shop for everyone on their list.”