Warner Bros. To Open First-Ever ‘Harry Potter’ Flagship Store in New York

Warner Bros. says it will open the first official “Harry Potter” flagship store later this year in the heart of New York City next to the Flatiron building at 935 Broadway.

The retail store will house the largest collection of “Harry Potter” and “Fantastic Beasts” products in the world under one roof with everything from personalized robes, DVDs and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, to a brand-new range of house wands with a design exclusive to the New York location.

Spanning three floors and over 20,000 sq. ft., the space will provide fans of the J.K. Rowling novels and franchise movies with a number of exciting retail experiences that evoke the magic of the Wizarding World.

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“This will be the largest dedicated Harry Potter store in the world and will become a must-visit fan destination where Harry Potter enthusiasts can engage with interactive experiences and numerous photo opportunities as they step into the magic,” Sarah Roots, SVP of worldwide tours and retail at Warner Bros., said in a statement. “We are very excited to be opening in New York. It’s the ideal city in which to launch with so many dedicated Wizarding World fans, a cutting-edge retail environment and a community that embraces innovative experiences.”

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New Data Highlights Big-Box Winter Retail Foot Traffic

In an age of e-commerce and online retail, traditional brick-and-mortar stores have increasingly focused on specific days of the year to push consumer foot traffic in stores.

New data from Placer.ai, which has offices in Los Altos, Calif., and Tel Aviv, suggests retailers such as Walmart, Target and Best Buy target holidays to entice consumers. In a blog post, Ethan Chernofsky, VP of marketing, cited analytical data underscoring how the big box stores fared throughout 2019.

“Walmart may be the undisputed king of offline retail, and much of that centers around its ability to drive excitement and interest throughout the calendar,” Chernofsky wrote. “As opposed to many, Walmart’s peak comes in the days before Christmas with an annual peak hitting on Dec. 23.”

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He said the day before Christmas Eve saw store foot traffic rise 89.2% above the retail behemoth’s baseline for 2019.

“There are clear peaks before Easter, Mother’s and Father’s Day, as well as the obvious Black Friday bump, in addition to an ongoing push in the back-to-school season,” Chernofsky wrote. “The capacity to effectively take advantage of so many key time periods is a hallmark to Walmart’s ongoing success.”

By comparison, Black Friday remains the key day in Target’s retail calendar, driving visits 181.3% above normal. Target has also shown a proclivity to dominate both the back-to-school period and the buildup into Christmas, with both periods driving major benefits to the general merchandise leader.

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For Target, the day before Easter provides one of the few major peaks outside of the holiday and back-to-school seasons, with visits rising 81.7% above the baseline.

“If the retailer can identify another opportunity to drive visits with the same strength as the late summer or holiday period, the impact could catapult the brand to an entirely new level of success,” Chernovsky wrote.

 

 

Finally, Black Friday remains key to Best Buy. The brand sees visits rise a whopping 641.9% above the baseline on the post-Thanksgiving retail holiday.

“Smaller peaks throughout the rest of the holiday season come nowhere near the incredible standard the brand sets on Black Friday,” he wrote.

Placer.ai  said the data highlights opportunities retailers could act upon  to galvanize consumers throughout the year.

“Whether it’s Mother’s or Father’s Day, or an Amazon-esque attempt to create their own holiday [i.e. Prime Day], Best Buy has huge opportunities for growth if it can better leverage the period between January 1st and Thanksgiving,” Chernovsky wrote.

Barnes & Noble Completes Sale to Private Fund Manager

Barnes & Noble, America’s largest brick-and-mortar bookseller, Aug. 7 announced the successful closing of its $683 million acquisition by Elliott Advisors Limited, a private fund manager located in the United Kingdom.

Elliott’s purchase follows its 2018 acquisition of Waterstones, the largest retail bookseller in the U.K.

Barnes & Noble operates 627 retail stores across all 50 states, where it remains the #1 retail bookseller in the U.S. The retailer also operates BN.com website as well as Nook tablet business, which includes the sale of digital movies and TV shows.

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Elliott seeks to deploy the same strategy it claims turned around Waterstones in an age of ecommerce and Amazon. Elliott will own both Barnes & Noble and Waterstones and, while each bookseller will operate independently, James Daunt, CEO of Waterstones, will serve as CEO of both companies and relocate from London to New York.

“This is a very good day for bookselling,” Daunt said in a statement.

“Barnes & Noble is the greatest of all bookstore names and will now benefit from the support of an owner committed to physical bookselling. With investment and concentration on the core principles of good bookselling, the prospects for this extraordinary company are bright.”

Paul Best, portfolio manager and head of European private equity at Elliott, said the $38.2 billion fund remains committed to bookselling and “real” bookstores.

“Barnes & Noble has an extraordinary heritage, one that we want to protect and grow,” Best said.

As a result of the merger, Barnes & Noble becomes a privately held subsidiary of Elliott and will cease trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Daunt’s honeymoon could be short-lived.

Barnes & Noble generated a $18.3 million net loss in its most-recent fiscal period, with same-store sales down 2.3%. Quarter sales topped $755 million and $3.6 billion for the fiscal year, down 3.9% and 3% from the prior year periods, respectively.

Thanksgiving, Black Friday Retail Traffic Rivals 2017 as E-Commerce Soars

Consumer foot traffic to brick-and-mortar retail stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday resulted in a combined 1% decline for the two-day period compared to last year, with a 1.7% decline in traffic on Black Friday versus 2017, according to new data from ShopperTrak.

“The fact that the combined shopper visits remained almost the same this year compared to the last three years proves that the notion of Black Friday not being popular anymore is a myth,” Brian Field, senior director of global retail consulting for ShopperTrak, said in a statement.

The National Retail Federation predicted that about 164 million people would shop over the five days through Cyber Monday – which equals last year’s tally.

Meanwhile, online shopping over the holidays — much like e-commerce during the year — continues to grow exponentially.

Adobe reportedly expects online holiday shopping in November and December to increase nearly 15% from 2017. The tech company said Black Friday shopping on the Internet increased nearly 28% to $6.4 billion. Online shopping on Thanksgiving increased 28% to $3.7 billion.

Regardless, ShopperTrak estimates 80% of the holiday’s busiest shopping days are still ahead. The days include Super Saturday, which falls on Dec. 22, and the Sunday before Christmas, Dec. 23.

Notably, for the third year in a row, there are four Saturdays in December prior to Christmas Day, which will enhance the importance of both Dec. 8 and Dec. 15. In addition, similar to last year, the Saturday after Christmas, Dec. 29, is expected to be one of the busiest shopping days taking the last spot on the top 10 busiest day’s list.

“Shopping in physical stores during the holidays continues to be an exciting annual event for consumers and based on the Black Friday traffic data, retailers are in for a successful holiday season,” said Field.