Monday, October 5, 2009

Positive Reports for the Holiday Season

As the holiday season is nearing in on us, many publications are starting to predict what the season will mean for retailers. Since the holiday season is one of our most popular times of year, we look forward to it, especially being able to provide gifts to our customers and community members to help spice up their holiday. A recent article in the San Antonio Business Journal reported that the holiday season is starting to look up and looks to be positive this year. The business journal also reported about Oil & Vinegar's growth into San Antonio and how our unique concept is looking to expand throughout the state of Texas.

As Oil & Vinegar has settled in the U.S. we have put in place a new growth strategy and are gearing up for U.S. growth this year. One of the markets we have strategically targeted to enter is San Antonio, where we plan to partner up with the local entrepreneur to grow our brand in their community. The article below details our brands strategy for growth in San Antonio and the state of Texas, where we are strongly looking to expand and excited to spice up the holiday season for all that are involved.

-Matt Stermer

New report predicts retailers may avoid a Blue Christmas

San Antonio Business Journal - by Tricia Lynn Silva

Things may be looking up.

Earlier this week, New York-based industry group the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) released its 2009 Holiday Sales Outlook.

The bottom line? A better bottom line for retailers come this shopping season.

“This year’s holiday-season spending will be a lot better than last year,” says Michael P. Niemira. Chain store sales for the 2009 November-December shopping season are expected to reach $104.6 million — a 1 percent increase from the $103.6 million reported by chain stores for the same period in 2008.

A significant increase? No, but it could “signal better times ahead for 2010,” ICSC states.

“The wear and tear of the recession and financial crisis on the consumer psyche is slowly giving way to renewed hope, optimism and, most likely, gift buying,” adds Niemira, who is the chief economist and director of research for ICSC.

In recent years, many consumers participated in what ICSC calls buy-it-for-yourself shopping. This phenomenon went into high gear on Black Friday — the Friday after Thanksgiving — when deals were rampant.

But over the course of 2009, deals have been easier to find — as retailers worked to get warm bodies in their doors despite the current recession.

As a result, many buy-it-for-yourself shoppers have already been, well, buying for themselves.

Not to despair. As ICSC states in its latest report, that means that the upcoming holiday bargains could be just the thing to prompt more gift giving to others.

Taking a cue from the holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street, ICSC asks if retailers will need a miracle of their own to see positive sales figures come 2009.

Maybe not, but a little help couldn’t hurt.

“Should you see Kris Kringle at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, put in a request for one anyway!” ICSC concludes.

Oil & Vinegar

A concept hailing from the Netherlands is out to spice things up in the U.S. — especially Texas.

Gourmet culinary shop Oil & Vinegar is on the hunt for franchisees to spread the concept across the Lone Star State. The company currently has a single store in Texas, at The Woodlands Mall in the Houston area. But the company sees San Antonio as its starting point in expanding its concept.

“We will use ... San Antonio as our focal point for Texas ... ,” says Matt Stermer, CEO of Oil & Vinegar and a Seattle-based franchisee for the firm. From there, the company will “balloon to surrounding areas throughout the state.”

To date, there are five Oil & Vinegar stores in the U.S. Outside of the United States, the company boasts more than 60 stores — spread out over such countries as the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Germany and South Africa.

For more than a year, the U.S. has been a prime focus for expanding the brand, Stermer says.
Markets like San Antonio and Houston will be key to Oil & Vinegar’s growth in Texas — a state that Stermer defines as “very culinary-oriented.”

The Oil & Vinegar shops feature a wide array of cooking products, many with a Mediterranean flair — from bottled and “on tap” oils and vinegars, to flavored pastas, herb mixes and fondue chocolates.

Locally, the goal is to have two to three stores up and running in greater San Antonio over the next five years. As for possible sites, Stermer says that the company is not so much focused on the product type as the frequency of shoppers. “It all comes down to high foot traffic,” he says.

The average ticket at Oil & Vinegar runs about $30 — making its products ideal for gift giving or a little bit of shop-for-yourself luxury. “(Consumers) may not be buying a $1,500 Louis Vuitton handbag, but they’ll easily spend $30 on a nice bottle of vinegar or oil,” Stermer says. “This is luxury at a relatively low price.”