- The Washington Times - Monday, November 27, 2000

Retail and Hospitality

A current television ad shows a few stunned shoppers peering through the windows of a desolate and darkened shoppingmall. A small but curious crowd gathers in the vacant parking lot only to find the mall is closed.
The ad says that Amazon.com has changed the way people shop. It's actually an ad for Hewlett Packard, which provides many of the systems that Amazon.com uses in its operations.
The ad is certainly clever but not really accurate especially this holiday season.
There's no doubt the Web will be busier than last year with even more choices for shoppers. And it's true that more on-line shoppers plan to spend even more of their holiday budgets on the Amazon.coms of the world. About $11.6 billion is expected in Internet sales between November and December a 66 percent increase over last year.
But that doesn't mean there won't be mile-long lines at registers and scarce parking at shopping centers. An estimated $196 billion to $198 billion will be spent in stores this year between November and December a 5.5 percent to 6.5 percent increase over the same period in 1999.
Arundel Mills, which opened Nov. 17, already had a taste of what's expected in the next several weeks as thousands of shoppers poured into its parking lot stalking those who were leaving for one of the 6,500 available spaces. Throughout the grand opening weekend, Arundel Mills added 4,000 temporary parking spaces to accommodate the influx of people.
As the parking issues were getting under control, sales didn't suffer. The 1.4 million-square-foot center raked in about $7 million in sales during its three-day grand opening.
Tysons Corner Center expects 3 million people to visit the 2.1 million-square-foot shopping mall between Nov. 24 and Dec. 24 about 100,000 people a day.
But many of the national stores found in area malls are catching on to the Internet craze.
About 45 percent of brick-and-mortar retailers are selling on the Web this holiday season, according to a survey by Deloitte & Touche and the National Retail Federation. Half of them will be selling their full line of merchandise on line.
"Holiday season 2000 will be the revenge of the brick-and-mortars," said Sean Kaldor, vice president of e-commerce at Nielson/NetRatings Inc. "Battle lines are being drawn between off-line brick-and-mortar stores and the Internet pure plays."
This year's top sites for holiday gift buying are really no surprise with Amazon.com, barnes-andnoble.com and Ebay.com topping the list, according to a survey by Taylor Nelson Sofres. Books, CDs, cassette tapes and movies will remain the most popular gifts bought on line, according to several different retail surveys.
Despite some technical glitches, delivery problems and customer service debacles last year, shoppers although some skeptical must have a good heart. They're returning to the Web in record numbers this year perhaps giving those Web stores another chance. But we're definitely a long way off from shopping malls going extinct.

Checking in with hotels

Five Washington-area hotels are among the 50 best hotels in the country, according to the Zagat Survey of Top U.S. Hotels, Resorts & Spas.
The 2001 Zagat guidebook lists Four Seasons on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner, the Willard Inter-Continental on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest and the St. Regis Hotel on 16th Street NW among the top 50 hotels.
The 2001 edition, released earlier this month, has more than 800 favorite hotels, resorts, spas and hotel chains listed with ratings of their rooms, service, dining and public spaces and facilities.
The results are based on voting from about 20,000 participants, including some travel agents. The average person stayed at hotels nearly 30 nights per year so the survey is based on about 600,000 nights at each hotel. In fact there was at least one surveyor at every property every night of the year, according to Tim Zagat, who started the familiar maroonish-colored, pocket-size guidebooks with his wife, Nina.
The Hotel, Resorts & Spa guide breaks its results into cities and lists the District's best hotels as: the Four Seasons, Willard Inter-Continental, St. Regis, Park Hyatt, Hay-Adams Hotel, the Jefferson Hotel, the Monarch Hotel and Morrison-Clark Inn.
Zagat's other guidebooks include the top U.S. restaurants, the best restaurants in particular cities and states, and the best in American and International lodging. Incidentally, the front cover of the 2001 Hotels, Resorts & Spas guide is silver.
Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884. Retail & Hospitality runs every other week.


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