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Malls to Offer Deep Discounts

Marketing: Shopping program is part of Mayor Hahn's economic recovery effort to revive retail sector.

January 10, 2002|KAREN ROBINSON-JACOBS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Hoping to breathe new life into the region's retail sector, public officials today will announce a major marketing push aimed at luring consumers into 19 Los Angeles County shopping malls next week.

Dubbed Shop LA County, the program will encourage retailers at the 19 malls, including nine in the city of Los Angeles, to offer discounts of up to 70% and other incentives from Jan. 17 through Jan.21.

Participating malls include the Citadel Factory Stores, the Fashion Square Sherman Oaks and Los Cerritos Center.

The move comes about a month after the conclusion of a similar Dine LA program, which was launched late last year to encourage area residents to dine out on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Both the dining and shopping programs are part of Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn's economic recovery effort, launched in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Los Angeles and other cities rely heavily on sales tax revenue for their general funds.

Several restaurant owners said the dining program, which ran for six weeks, generated little additional business--but they still believed the idea was a good one.

"To tell you the truth, I could count everybody that participated on my fingers," said Steve Kim, general manager of Kyoto Restaurant in the Wilshire Grand Hotel. "And two times it was the same person. I'd say it had not a lot of impact. We were expecting a bigger impact."

Some restaurateurs speculated that the dining program was not well-publicized.

To promote the Shop LA program, promoters are planning an advertising campaign and a public kickoff today.

Joy Chen, the mayor's director of economic recovery, said the shopping program is being supported by media outlets including the Los Angeles Times and KTLA-TV Channel 5, both of which are owned by Tribune Co.

Malachy Kavanagh, a spokesman for the International Council of Shopping Centers, said he was unaware of similar programs in the U.S. in which so many competing malls worked together on a joint marketing program.

"Anything right now that can be done to help stimulate the economy is good," Kavanagh said. "It's good for the consumers, and it's a win-win for everyone."

Kavanagh said retailers typically offer deep discounts in mid-January to move out the previous year's merchandise and to make room for the spring arrivals.

Although nationwide mall revenue rose by about 2% from Christmas 2000, Kavanagh said, overall the holiday season was seen as disappointing for many retailers who have seen business slide since Sept. 11.

The shopping program is being undertaken with about $57,000 in cash from the participating malls, $10,000 from American Express Co. and additional in-kind contributions.

For every purchase during the promotion, a donation will be made to Book Ends, a nonprofit group that provides books to schools.

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