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Unformatted text preview: In These Lean Days, Even Stores Shrink By STEPHANIE CLIFFORD SANTA ANA, Calif. A temporary wall slices the Anchor Blue store here in half. On one side are abandoned dressing rooms, a few mannequins and no customers. On the other are racks jammed with clothing and accessories and more customers than ever coming into the store. Tom Shaw, the head of Anchor Blue, a clothing chain for teenagers, looked with approval at the 2,500 square feet of empty space that his company still rents. Foot traffic is up more than 7 percent, the chain says, and sales have increased nearly 23 percent since the trial remodeling last year. We dont want a department-store feel, Mr. Shaw said. With that much product in that much space you can get lost, not know where to go. Anchor Blue is among a growing number of retailers thinking small chopping off big chunks of stores or moving to more efficient spaces. The change reflects two trends in the retail world: Chains looking for new ways to cut costs in the sour economy, and consumers demanding a less sprawling shopping experience as they spend with greater purpose. The customer walks in the door, and often sees a huge selection of stuff in a multibrand store, and cant figure out what to buy and ends up buying nothing, said Paco Underhill, founder and chief executive of Envirosell, a Manhattan- based company that advises stores on shoppers behavior. We have reached the apogee of the big box, meaning that we cant grow the store or the shopping mall any bigger, or get any more time or money out of somebodys pockets. Big chains like Bloomingdales and Nike are trying smaller stores, as are specialty retailers like Charlotte Russe. Mr. Underhill said most of his clients are exploring the idea, which can require creative thinking. Underhill said most of his clients are exploring the idea, which can require creative thinking....
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- Fall '08