Facts & figures Washington, D.C. - Supermarket profits for the 1998-99 fiscal year dropped slightly from last year's record high - 1.03% from 1.22%, according to the Food Marketing Institute's 1998-99 Annual Financial Review. Operating income rose to 3.03% of sales, short of 1995-96's record high of 3.05%.

Phoenix - The Phoenix market has reached a 5.5% retail vacancy rate, the lowest in more than 10 years, according to a report by CB Richard Ellis. More space is coming on line, with new entertainment projects on tap for North Scottsdale, downtown Scottsdale and downtown Tempe.

New York - Discount department stores were holiday shoppers' No. 1 target in 1999. These venues brought in 80% of those consumers surveyed by Deloitte & Touche Consumer Business Practice. Other contenders were superstores, with 44% of respondents; catalogs, with 42%; and traditional department stores with 41%. The Internet and home shopping networks brought up the rear with 10% and 5%, respectively.

Chicago - Career opportunities abound in 2000 for commercial real estate executives, according to FPL Advisory Group's Y2K Hiring and Executive Compensation survey. Of 63 commercial real estate organizations represented in the survey, 43 said they would be hiring a senior executive in the next six months. Commercial property management, development and asset management were the disciplines most in demand.

New York - A study conducted by Andersen Consulting found that one-fourth of attempted holiday Internet purchases end without a sale actually being made. The research firm attempted to purchase 480 gifts at 100 different websites, but was able to complete only 350 orders. Obstructions included sites that crashed or were blocked, under construction or otherwise inaccessible.

Retailer roundup San Francisco - Gap Inc. has purchased a distribution center in Ontario to facilitate the company's planned expansion of its Old Navy division into Canada. The first Old Navy store is scheduled to open in the Toronto area in summer 2001.

Pembroke Pines, Fla. - Accessories giant Claire's Stores Inc. has purchased Cleopatre, a Paris-based fashion accessory chain, for $11 million. Cleopatre will sell its own merchandise, plus some of Claire's inventory, in its 42 stores. The acquisition comes fast on the heels of Claire's $250 million purchase of the Afterthoughts accessory chain.

Seattle - Starbucks Corp. has announced grand expansion plans. The coffee chain has increased its capital spending for 2000 to $300 million, up 15% from last year's budget. Starbucks currently operates 2,135 stores, but intends to have 2,500 running in North America by the end of fiscal 2000. Starbucks also says it will have 500 stores in the Asia Pacific region and 500 stores in Europe.

Mall matters Riverwoods, Ill. - Discover Financial Services Inc. has joined Coca-Cola, Dodge, First Citizens Bank and Harris Teeter Food Markets as a member of The Mills Corp.'s portfolio of marketing partners.

Discover announced an agreement with Mills that makes Discover Card the preferred credit card at nine of Mills' retail and entertainment destinations across the United States. Discover will conduct promotions, display signage, run advertising on Mills TV and establish a joint website presence.

Indianapolis - Simon Property Group and Turner Broadcasting System Inc. will combine resources in a strategic alliance to develop a private, retail entertainment network. Programming will feature original and branded programming from the stable of TBS Inc. networks. The yet-to-be-named venture is scheduled to roll out in Simon malls by the end of 2000.