Best Buy to downsize Stores

When it comes to retailing, big is not so beautiful anymore. Weak sales, online competition and changing consumer habits have big-box chains looking to downsize. Best Buy Co. is the latest merchant shedding space, in an initiative that stands out in both size and scope. The giant retailer, with 1,300 stores nationwide, is launching plans to wall off parts of its cavernous stores and sublease the space to smaller retailers, such as grocers, beauty supply stores, home furnishing outlets and others. Best Buy’s new stores will aim to be about 36,000 square feet — down from the current average of 45,000 square feet.

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Sears spins off Orchard Supply

Sears Holdings Corp. said Thursday that it plans to spin off its Orchard Supply Hardware Stores Corp. business as a separate, publicly traded company.

The department store retailer said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday that it believes the chain, which runs 89 stores in California, will generate more value for shareholders as a standalone company. Sears shareholders will own 80 percent of Orchard, and the remaining 20 percent will be held by Ares Management LLC. ESL Investments, the Edward Lampert-run fund that also is Sears’ majority shareholder, will be Orchard’s biggest owner.

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Home Depot and Online Growth

Over the last few years, Home Depot has expanded its retail stores aggressively, adding more than 200 outlets annually. However, the firm has recently embarked on a $1.1 billion program aimed at improving its Web presence while planning to dramatically reduce the number of new store openings to around 10 in 2011. Home Depot is the world’s largest retailer in the home improvement products space with over to 2,240 stores in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and China, and it hopes that by beefing up its online sales, it can distance itself from competitors like Lowe’s and Sears as well as fend off competition from pure play online retailers like Amazon.

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U.S. manufacturers are leaving China behind

The United States exported more goods and services in March than in any single month in its history: $172.7-billion (U.S.) worth. It was the country’s 21st consecutive month of rising exports, pushing the year-over-year increase to 20.9 per cent. In these 12 record-setting months, exports reached within one-tenth of 1 per cent of $2-trillion – more than four times the cost of the country’s imports of crude oil. This is significant. People are starting to take notice. Markets writer Joseph Lazzaro (on the Daily Finance website) anticipates that the U.S. up-trend in exports could last for years and turn its intractable trade deficit into a surplus. More dramatically, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a global management consulting firm, discerns “a renaissance” in manufacturing that will, within five years, lure major U.S. corporations to return home from China.

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As reported by Neil Reynolds in The Globe and