Saturday, December 22, 2007

Retailers retrench

Maybe that Wal-Mart isn't coming to the neighborhood anytime soon. We'll see but lets see what Crain's says about that...
Target Corp., Home Depot Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other big-box retailers — buffeted by sagging sales and the housing slump — are pulling the plug on new-store plans in and around Chicago.

The pullback is another sign of the darkening outlook for 2008, as retailers turn cautious on expansion.

"The economy is in the crapper. Housing is going down the chute," says Richard Kopczick, mayor of Morris, which had expected to gain more than $1 million in sales taxes from a planned shopping center that's lost its key big-box anchors. "Lowe's backed off, and then Kohl's said they wouldn't come without Lowe's, and the whole house of cards collapsed."

The retailers' retrenchment hurts because retail and housing have been the primary sources of growth in exurbs like Morris, and city neighborhoods counted on new stores as an economic shot in the arm.

Minneapolis-based Target is walking away from plans for new stores in Morris as well as Antioch, Arlington Heights and at 76th Street and Ashland Avenue in Chicago.

Wal-Mart, of Bentonville, Ark., had stores planned for North Aurora, St. Charles, Crystal Lake, Elgin, East Dundee and Bradley; all have been either axed or put on hold.

And after Christmas, Atlanta-based Home Depot will shut down a chunk of the real estate department at its regional office in Arlington Heights and has told brokers it's not interested in new store plans. Home Depot has cancelled projects in Minooka and at Interstate 57 and 119th Street in Chicago.

Target and Wal-Mart did not return calls. Home Depot would confirm only that it's laid off some Arlington Heights personnel.

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