01.30.2011 – The Week on the Web: Jan. 24-30 – CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS

The Week on the Web: Jan. 24-30

Retailers expect super sales

By Benjamin J. Spencer
January 30, 2011 5:59 a.m.


The sought-after jerseys won’t be Jets green, but Super Bowl-related retail spending this year is expected to top $10.1 billion—a 13% increase over 2010’s take, according to the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association.

Football fans, possibly piqued by a showdown between perennial powerhouses the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers, are expected to shell out big-time this year for team apparel, food and beverages, and electronics, with an average tab of $59.33, according to the association. For instance, at least 4.5 million people, or about 4.5% of the game’s estimated audience, are expected to buy new televisions for the event; that’s up from 3.6 million last year, when the New Orleans Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts.

Even without a New York team hitting the field, local electronics retailers are gearing up for a run on flat-screens. Best Buy, with seven city locations, hopes the TV sales will help it regain ground after a lackluster holiday season, and Manhattan’s own J&R is slashing prices on some giant sets by as much as $600 leading up to Super Bowl Sunday.

NASSAU COUNTY LOST ITS INDEPENDENCE when the state’s Nassau Interim Finance Authority took over the county’s finances, after reports of flawed bookkeeping and flat revenues led to a dismal Moody’s credit rating. The takeover halts the county’s short-term borrowing for operating expenses and could result in wage freezes for county staffers. New York state bailed Nassau out once before, in 2000, to the tune of $100 million.

… THE PACKED SIDEWALKS OF SOHO should get a little cleaner now that the City Planning Commission has approved the creation of a SoHo Business Improvement District. The green light came amid objections by some residents and the local community board. The proposed BID will add to the 63 other business improvement districts currently spread over the five boroughs. Some residents had argued that a SoHo BID was unnecessary, since SoHo already draws lots of tourists. The BID still needs City Council and mayoral approval.

… J.C. PENNEY’S BIGGEST SHAREHOLDER JOINED ITS BOARD OF DIRECTORS on the same day that the retail chain announced plans to close 25 stores. William Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management, who bought up a 16.5% share in the retailer last October, has a reputation for buying into and then shaking up companies he thinks are undervalued. Vornado Realty Trust’s Steven Roth, whose company owns 9.9% of the retailer’s stock, was also named to the board.

… THE NONPROFIT CENTER FOR JEWISH HISTORY PAID OFF ITS LONG-STANDING DEBT after an 18-month capital campaign flushed out some generous donors, including the Fairholme Foundation, which gave $6.8 million. Another 19 donors helped erase the $30 million debt incurred since moving to its West 16th Street location.

… ADVERTISERS CONTINUED TO SHED SKINS, MTV’s new teen drama that has drawn criticism for its frank depiction of sex and drug use among the underage crowd. Subway shops and Schick razors withdrew their advertising, following the flight path of Taco Bell, L’Oréal and Foot Locker.

A version of this article appeared in the January 31, 2011 print issue of Crain’s New York Business.