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Target is expanding its meat, produce selections at existing stores

Shoppers like Lenise Black and grandchildren Tenae, left, and Denise Godwin will find fresh meat and produce at Target discount stores in the bay area following makeovers.

STEPHEN J. CODDINGTON | Times (2009)

Shoppers like Lenise Black and grandchildren Tenae, left, and Denise Godwin will find fresh meat and produce at Target discount stores in the bay area following makeovers.

Target shoppers soon won't need to wait for a SuperTarget to land in their neighborhood to find the same fresh meats and produce closer to home.

The Minneapolis discount chain is remodeling several Target discount stores in the Tampa Bay market to stock a wider selection of groceries including full produce and meat departments.

Code-named P-fresh (a play on refreshing a store with perishables and fresh food), it's a big step in the company's evolution to be more of a trendy version of a Walmart Supercenter.

After opening 100 stores a year, Target Corp. cut that to 10 a year while pouring $1 billion annually into remodeling. This year 340 Target stores get the fix.

Like Walmart's remaining discount stores, the grocery selection in the standard Target has been growing for years.

"After P-fresh, our discount stores have 90 percent of the categories and 60 percent of the grocery items found in a SuperTarget," said Jana O'Leary, Target spokeswoman. "They are the most popular items on a shopping list."

O'Leary confirmed that the Target in the Gateway area of St. Petersburg is scheduled to be completed by April 15. She declined to say which other local Targets would undergo the makeovers.

Target's fresh meats are cut and packed at a central facility in the Midwest. The new discount store layout offers no deli or bakery. But prices can be well below those at supermarkets.

Target estimates remodeled stores attract 6 percent to 10 percent more shopping trips.

• • •

When restaurant chefs talk about adding flavor, they usually mean more fat. How else to explain the industry's fascination with bacon?

The number of menu items in all types of restaurants containing bacon has leaped 25 percent since 2005, reports Mintel Menu Insights, a research firm. The number of bacon-topped burgers at 580 restaurants and chains soared 36 percent.

• • •

At Tyrone Square Mall, the Rave teen apparel store closed for good last week. At Westfield Brandon, Glamour Shots left the building. At International Plaza, barricades cover what weeks ago were Cache Luxe and Bailey Banks & Biddle.

If December 'twas the season for boughs and holly, January 'tis the season for store closings.

For those expecting an exodus as big as either of the last two years, it has not happened. The regional mall vacancy rate is already at an 18-year high of 8.8 percent, reports Reis Inc., a provider of commercial real estate information. So after enduring a holiday season that showed consumer spending stabilizing, most big retailers hope they have already shrunk enough to match reduced, postrecession demand.

Store closings are part of the normal ebb and flow of cycling in hot stores to replace the faded. Problem is, in this economy there are few rising stars.

So with rents declining (or not rising as fast as usual in the most desirable malls) and more new, locally owned stores filling space, landlords figure an occupied storefront beats an empty one.

Nonetheless, analysts expect some chains to close more stores than usual this year.

According to an assessment compiled by 24/WallStreet.com based on closing weak stores to restore profit margins, the "most likely" nominees are:

Dillard's, closing 25 of 315 stores; JCPenney, 75 of 1,100; SteinMart, 35 of 267; Hot Topic, 25 of 315, and Zales/Gordon Brothers/Piercing Pagoda, 200 of 1,930.

Abercrombie & Fitch, 179 of 1,129; GameStop, 400 of 6,200; and Barnes & Noble, 100 of 1,405. That follows Borders recently closing 200 Waldenbooks.

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8252.

Target is expanding its meat, produce selections at existing stores 01/25/10 [Last modified: Monday, January 25, 2010 10:42pm]
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