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Target debuts first 'next-gen' store

It’s a first for Target: The red-themed retailer recently unveiled its first “next-gen” store in Richmond, Texas, near Houston.

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The 124,000-square-foot store opened last week. It’s the first of hundreds of stores the retailer plans to open in the next two years.

“With our next generation of store design, we’re investing to take the Target shopping experience to the next level by offering more elevated product presentations and a number of time-saving features,” Target’s chairman and CEO Brian Cornell said earlier this year. “The new design for this Houston store will provide the vision for the 500 reimagined stores planned for 2018 and 2019, with the goal of taking a customized approach to creating an enhanced shopping experience.”

One of the differences shoppers may notice between the new Target design and other locations is how the “next-gen” store is two concepts within one.

According to Target spokespersons, for the convenience of the on-the-go-shopper, one side of the store comes with grocery items and pick-up for those who prefer to order online.

The other side of the Target store is similar to a virtual department store, according to Target representatives. Shoppers can find items from Chip and Joanna Gaines’ new “Hearth & Hand” collection in that section of the store.

RELATED: 'Fixer Upper' couple criticized over new home decor line at Target

“We wanted to tailor the experience to what shoppers are looking for,” store manager Shannon Wolford said, according to the Houston Chronicle.

RELATED: Fans rush in early to make sure they don’t miss Chip and Joanna’s Target line

The in-store Starbucks is even next-gen, complete with patio seating.

Read more at Houston Chronicle and Target

RELATED: Target is making some big changes that will lead to better, faster shopping

Gap, Banana Republic closing 200 stores

Gap Inc., which owns Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Athleta and two other brands, will close hundreds of stores to make way for new ones. 

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According to The Associated Press, the clothing retailer plans to close 200 Gap and Banana Republic stores in the next three years. The company plans to open 270 new Old Navy and Athleta stores during that time. 

The move supports efforts to leverage Old Navy and Athleta, which have reported rising sales, while Gap and Banana Republic have reported drops in sales.

Gap Inc., like many other retailers, has seen the impact of consumers’ preference to shop online, making it difficult for some brick-and-mortar stores to report significant earnings.

According to the AP, Old Navy is on track to surpass $10 billion in sales in the next few years, and Athleta is expected to exceed $1 billion in sales.

Read more at The Associated Press.

Macy's to close 100 stores

Reuters contributed to this report.

After seeing a drop in store sales, Macy's has said it will close 100 stores, Reuters reported.

The company's last six consecutive quarters have shown declining sales. 

Sales in stores open at least a year, including sales in departments licensed to third parties, fell 2 percent, according to analysts polled by research firm Consensus Metrix.

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The stock in the company has fallen 50 percent in the last 12 months, the Associated Press reported. Shareholders' net income fell to $11 million, or 3 cents per share, in the second quarter from $217 million, or 64 cents per share, a year earlier.

"Whenever there's been a setback in our company, we've been first in the industry to take a very aggressive stance at moving us forward," CEO Terry Lundgren told CNBC's "Squawk Box." "That's just part of it. By closing 100 stores, we're getting out in front of this." 

Macy's currently has 728 stores, 675 of which are full-line stores. Most of the store closings will begin in early 2017. Macy’s did not disclose which stores it will close.

"We believe that this reduction of 100 locations in the short term will result in a more appropriate store portfolio for Macy's in the longer term and help us to accelerate our progress in building a vibrant omnichannel brand experience," Jeff Gennette, who will take over as CEO in the first quarter of 2017, said in a release.

Some retailers use misleading 'skinny mirrors' in fitting rooms

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A California-based company is selling mirrors that trick people into thinking they're slimmer than they really are. 

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In a segment that aired March 9 on NBC's "Rossen Reports," Jeff Rossen examined the mirrors and their affects on women's shopping experiences and ideas about body image. 

Women who tried on clothes in front of The Skinny Mirror at a retail store in New York described themselves as "slimmer," "longer" and "taller."

"The clothes look better in the store than they actually do in real life so when I get home, it doesn't look the same," one shopper said.

The Skinny Mirror claims it "works on the psyche over time" and "gives users the instant visual gratification of a 'slimmer you' while educating that how you choose to feel about your body has nothing to do with your actual shape, size or weight."

The company, founded in 2013 by Belinda Jasmine-Bertzfield, produces mirrors designed to make one's reflection appear 5 to 10 pounds thinner. The Skinny Mirror claims the mirrors can boost stores' retail sales by up to 18 percent.

"It's really subtle," Jasmine-Bertzfield said of the mirror's effects. "It just gives you that little bit of extra hourglass."

Retail expert Andrea Woroch disagrees with the idea. 

"Retailers will use skinny mirrors to deceive customers into looking a certain way when they try on their clothing," Woroch said. "The better they look, the more likely they are to buy something."

But Jasmine-Bertzfield said the mirrors aren't intended to only make people look slimmer. They're made to encourage greater body satisfaction. 

"It's actually not about making people look good. It's about making them feel good," she said.

Jasmine-Bertzfield said she came up with the idea for The Skinny Mirror after struggling with body image issues that she said were fueled by a "warped" and "distorted" mirror she had for three years.

She pitched the idea on the television show "Shark Tank" in October 2015.

"I would love to have a mirror that made me look thinner in my home, (but in a store,) the customer doesn't know what they truly look like," said one woman who participated in Rossen's investigation.

Jasmine-Bertzfield said The Skinny Mirror was "first designed for the individual for personal use." The company's website says more than half of sales of the mirror "have been to individuals and homes." It wasn't until the mirrors gained attention that retailers began purchasing the mirrors for their stores.

To combat critics who say The Skinny Mirror is unethical and deceptive in stores, the company began marking the mirrors with their logo to distinguish skinny mirrors from regular mirrors.

The word "skinny" appears on the mirror in the bottom right-hand corner. The logo is smaller than the size of a pinky finger.

The mirrors sell for between $165 and $5,500, depending on the size and frame materials.

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Target to roll out in-store, fully stocked bar

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Customers may soon be able to have happy hour while they shop at Target.

The retail chain is working to serve alcohol from a fully stocked bar in its stores.

"That is crazy," said Target customer Craig Rumbaugh.

"I don't know that it is really necessary," said Target customer Samantha Maretti.

The company plans to start at a smaller, more "city-friendly" Target store in Chicago.

Target already sells liquor for shoppers to take home, but this would be the first "consumption on premises" liquor license for Target.

Some customers said the bar would not bother them, but others did not like the idea.

"It is one thing to get your coffee lattes or what have you, [but] to get a drink and then go shopping?" said Maretti.

"Why would you want alcohol in a place that has family oriented stuff?  It's kind of silly," said Rumbaugh.

Some customers think the plan could cause a bigger problem.

"It's harder to control the underage drinking if you have got a wider variety of people," said Maretti.

Sheriff Jerry Demings said he is against the sale of liquor in supermarkets. He said it would be unnecessary expansion of alcohol that could increase underage drinking.

The first store is scheduled to begin serving this fall.

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