Stein Mart Inc. will expand its store base beyond the 280 mark this year as it opens 11 stores and enters three new markets — the Bay Area, Long Island and suburban Detroit.
The Jacksonville, Fla.-based retailer, often described as a hybrid between a department and an off-price store, will enter the Bay Area with a store in Cupertino, Calif., Apple Inc.’s home city, scheduled to open on March 12. Like most Stein Mart stores, it will be a one-story unit covering about 32,000 square feet.
Stein Mart has more than 20 stores in southern California and four in the Sacramento market. Its 10 other openings will take place in the back half of the year.
“We’re pretty much built out in those areas,” said D. Hunt Hawkins, president and chief operating officer of the company. “We’ll look to build on Cupertino and our other stores in new market for efficiency in advertising, supply chain and, of course, name recognition. Cupertino will be the beachhead.”
The affluent community into which Stein Mart is headed is fairly typical of others the retailer occupies. “It’s certainly upper-income, but we typically go into those kind of markets,” Hawkins told WWD. “Our customers average a household income of over $100,000 and skew a bit older with the kids generally out of the house.”
Those comfortable consumers helped Stein Mart lift its sales last year to $1.32 billion, 4.3 percent above the prior year, while its comparable-store sales rose 3.3 percent. It remains among the handful of retailers who continue to report its comps monthly.
The second-half openings will generally occur from September through November, and Stein Mart expects to disclose the locations of those units as it cements details.
Asked if the single stores on Long Island and near Detroit will be followed by others, Hawkins said, “Our preference for any market is to have at least three stores.”
Last year, Stein Mart availed itself of former Loehmann’s locations as it entered the Miami market and opened its third store in Washington, D.C.
In addition to the new markets, the retailer will open three stores in southern California, two in Florida and one each in the Atlanta, Phoenix and Virginia Beach markets.
It also plans to relocate its Myrtle Beach, S.C., store to a new location in the fall.
Meanwhile, Stein Mart’s e-commerce site, steinmart.com, celebrated its first anniversary in September. “It’s still about 1 percent of the business, but it’s coming along well,” Hawkins said.