retail news in context, analysis with attitude

...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

• Target has announced plans to open a midtown Manhattan store in New York City, a 43,000 square foot, two-level small-store format in Herald Square on West 34th Street. It will be the company's third Manhattan store, with another two - in the east Village and Hell's Kitchen - over the next few years. The Herald Square store is scheduled to open this October.

The company said that this is part of its focus "on expanding Target’s small-format stores in dense urban neighborhoods, with New York being a priority market for the company’s growth."

• The Chicago Tribune reports that tomorrow Amazon will open a bricks-and-mortar Amazon Books store in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood, about a half-mile west of Wrigley Field.

The store will have a coffee shop, featuring Stumptown Coffee, and outdoor seating during the summer. As in other Amazon Books stores, it will offer best-sellers as determined by sales on the Amazon site, featuring reviews written by Amazon users. The store also will feature proprietary technology - Kindles, Fire TVs, Alexia/Echo voice-activated computer assistants - sold on the Amazon site.

The Tribune notes that "Amazon's August announcement about the Lakeview store spooked some Chicago independent bookstore owners, pushing nearly two dozen shops to band together as the Chicagoland Independent Bookstore Alliance. The group is focusing less on Amazon and more on efforts to boost the city's independent bookstore community, including a week of events around Independent Bookstore Day on April 29."

• The Chicago Tribune reports that McDonald's has expanded its use of fresh, rather than frozen, beef to more than 300 stores in the Dallas market; to this point, there were just 55 units there selling burgers made from fresh beef.

The expansion, the story says, suggests that McDonald's "could be getting closer to introducing never-frozen beef patties nationwide ... McDonald's experimentation is part of its effort to change the public's perception of its food quality and freshness. In the past two years, it has made strides to tweak its food to improve the taste and quality, like toasting buns and searing burgers longer, switching to butter from margarine on its Egg McMuffins and stripping antibiotics and preservatives from chicken."
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