By  on October 29, 2012

Say “hello” or “hola” to Curacao, the 11-unit Los Angeles-based department store chain with more than three decades of experience serving Hispanic shoppers spent the last two years figuring out how to broaden its reach. The result is the “La” has been dropped, store signage has gone bilingual, the primary language for store staff has been switched to English from Spanish and the retailer, a formidable advertiser on Spanish-language television in the U.S. with a $17 million annual ad budget, has started running English commercials for the first time.

Just as many American retailers were waking up to the importance of the burgeoning Hispanic population, Curacao realized that population was changing. According to president of the retail group Rick Hutton, about 35 percent of new Curacao customers this year were born in the U.S., compared to a scant 9 percent in 1995 — and recent immigrants as a percentage of the total shopping its stores is due to fall with immigration from Mexico slowing to a standstill and the comparatively high birth rate of U.S. Hispanics replacing it as the main population growth driver. “There has been a pretty significant shift,” said Hutton.

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