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Holyoke Mall opens six new shops

Charlene Franco arranges stock inside the Promod store that recently opened at the Holyoke Mall at Ingleside. Photo by Mark M. Murray

Charlene Franco arranges stock inside the Promod store that recently opened at the Holyoke Mall at Ingleside. Photo by Mark M. Murray Purchase photo reprints »

All six clothing stores — Accessorize, Monsoon, Cortefiel, which has both men’s and women’s clothing, Promod, Lipsy and children’s clothier Sergent Major have European roots and are owned by Retail Group of America, a subsidiary of Fawaz A. Alhokair & Co., known as “Alhokair Fashion Retail.

Retail Group of America hired about 100 people to staff its six Holyoke Mall stores, said company spokeswoman Migena Pema.

Retail Group of America has a national lease with Pyramid-owned malls across the country. But not, according to the company, at Pyramid’s Hampshire Mall in Hadley or Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough. The nearest locations besides Holyoke are in the Crossgates Mall near Albany, N.Y.

All the better to draw foot traffic through Holyoke Mall, said mall general manager William J. Rogalski.

“Sales are pretty much flat. We are just a shade over where we were last year going into the holiday season,” Rogalski said. “These stores are in product categories that we obviously already have, men’s and women’s clothing, children’s clothing.” If Rogalski is to improve mall sales, he’ll have to fight significant headwinds. U.S. households plan to spend an average of $498 on gifts this holiday season, down from $521 last year, according to a report from The Conference Board issued last week.

The Conference Board, which does economic research into consumer sentiment, said about 10 percent of consumers plan to spend more this year on holiday gifts. Approximately 32 percent plan to spend less than last year, about the same percentage of people saying that as said it last year. In 2011, 40 percent said they planned to spend less.

The Conference Board said about one-third of holiday shoppers say they expect more than half of their purchases to be on sale or discounted.

Nearly 70 percent of shoppers expect to purchase a portion of their holiday gifts online. About 22 percent say more than half of their gifts will be purchased online, the Conference Board said.

At the mall, Rogalski said he understands the impact of online shopping, even now that Internet giant Amazon.com is collecting state sales tax in Massachusetts.

“But there will always be people who will want to touch, feel and try on,” he said.

Pema detailed prices at the Retail Group of America stores.

Promod, a women’s clothing store, has items from $50 to $100. Lipsy, a younger-skewing British brand, is priced $100 and up.

Sergent Major, a French brand, has clothing at about $75.

Rogalski said these stores bring the mall up to about 98-percent occupancy, a former Borders Books and Music store being the only remaining large store available. The former Friendly’s restaurant space is also available.

“The market is getting better. Of course we are always talking to prospects,” he said.

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