retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The New York Times reports this morning that Target, which still isn’t scheduled to open its first store in Manhattan until 2009, plans to open a quartet of four “pop up” stores in the city that will sell designer merchandise.

Twenty-two designers will be represented in the stores, and three of them will have merchandise sold in the temporary stores that will not be available anywhere else for at least a month.

However, while the stores will certainly hinge on Target’s fashion credibility, they also will emphasize the company’s discount appeal, which is getting more emphasis in advertising and promotions during a time of economic decline.

• The Chicago Sun-Times reports that “after Sears Holdings Corp. reported … a worse-than-expected 62 percent drop in fiscal second-quarter earnings, experts predicted Kmart's extinction and wondered how much longer the retailer will take to hire a CEO.” According to the story, “A Sears spokesman said Thursday there was no update on a search to replace former CEO Aylwin Lewis, who left Feb. 2 after a disappointing holiday season, and there was no time frame for hiring a new leader.”

KC's View:
No vision, no leadership, and no apparent possibility that this chain will find any sort of traction. Hardly a surprise, since Sears and Kmart haven't shown any real sparks since the company was acquired by investor and financier Edward S. Lampert.

Compare that to Target, which few people believe will have any trouble weathering tough times in the long run.