Diving into 2013
Now the busy season begins - the trade shows, the spring retail resets, the year-end financial results.
The coming four months offer a number of events that bear watching.
1. The debt ceiling fight in Congress. A brief tumble over the "fiscal cliff" was resolved last week, but now the federal legislature is gearing up for another debt ceiling fight. Will Congress vote to pay for expenses it's already incurred? Will it slash spending equivalent to those costs? Will the fracas lead to the second downgrade of the country's debt in 18 months?
2. JCPenney home department relaunch. Originally slated for March 1 (and now described as scheduled for "spring"), the relaunch of JCPenney's 20,000-ft.-sq. home department is the mother of all events in the home furnishings world this year. JCP ceo Ron Johnson identified three key players the retailer hopes to take share from as its revamps its stores - Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy's and Walmart - but added he expects to bite into a lot of retailers' markets. The question is how muted the Martha Stewart brand presence will be in the store - and if the answer if "very," how differentiated will the new home department actually be?
3. JCPenney home numbers come out of the dark. On Feb. 27, Penney will announce its year-end results and in doing so will begin breaking out some financials for home, apparel and as-yet unspecified categories. Everybody knows home was for a long time one of the strongest departments in the store. Everybody knows the performance in home has fallen off substantially. How substantially? We'll find out in seven weeks.
4. Target unveils first Canadian stores. In March, Target will kick off its Canadian store rollout with 25 store openings in 18 communities in Ontario. Also during the spring, Target will open 10 stores in British Columbia, 11 stores in Alberta and three units in Manitoba. In the summer it will open 20 more stores in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan. Those will be followed by more openings in the fall of 2013 and the winter of 2014. How distinct will those stores be from the U.S. format? Will Target Canada - like Sears Canada and Wal-Mart Canada - be a bit more upscale than the domestic assortment?
It's shaping up to be another interesting year.