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Today in the news: Apple unveils smartwatch and Larger iPhones. For retailers, the holiday season is already in full swing and they are wasting no time revamping their strategy to entice would-be shoppers. Several Halloween costume shops in the US, for example, are reportedly taking over abandoned buildings and turning them into a fantastical costume shop. Meanwhile, retailer Toys “R” Us also plans to remodel its stores and improve its loyalty program. Read on and get the latest retail news from around the world.

  • Apple Unveils Smartwatch and Larger iPhones

Apple finally unveiled its widely anticipated smartwatch and two new iPhones. The company introduced the new smartwatch and the two offerings at an event in the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino, CA. The two new iPhones—known as the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus—feature screens measuring 4.7 and 5.5 inches respectively, up from 4 inches for the models released last year. The upgrade is expected to recapture Apple’s customers who defected to other manufacturers for devices with bigger screens. (San Jose Mercury News)

  • Toys ‘R’ Us Prepares for the Holiday Season

Retailer Toys “R” Us announced plans to change the look and feel of its stores as well as plans to revamp a loyalty program in preparation for the holiday season. Those efforts include new in-aisle gift suggestions signage, as well as displays that highlight some of the toy industry’s hottest toys and gift ideas for those looking to spend $30 or less. Those portions of the store are reminiscent of a “best seller” bookshelf often seen in stores like Barnes & Noble, essentially making it easier for casual shoppers to pop into a store and make a quick purchase. (Fortune)

  • Japan’s Ajinomoto Expands Its North American Business

Japanese food company Ajinomoto announces plans to purchase Texas-based food maker Windsor Quality for around $800 million. With the acquisition, Ajinomoto said it aims to expand its frozen-food business in North America to US$940 million by 2020. Windsor supplies about 80,000 stores and 120,000 restaurants, has seven production facilities and three distribution centers. Due to Japan’s shrinking population and aging domestic market, many Japanese companies are seeking growth abroad. The transaction will give Ajinomoto the top position in North America’s Asian and ethnic frozen-food sector, with a combined market share of 36%. (The Wall Street Journal)

  • Report: Nigeria Offers Best Opportunity for African Retail

A recent report shows Nigeria, Egypt and Ethiopia offer some of the best opportunities for retailers looking to invest in Africa. The report was released this week by the investment banking unit of FirstRand Bank. The ranking includes the Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya and South Africa, which rank 4th, 5th and 15th respectively. Nigeria is the most populous nation and the biggest economy in Africa. A report by McKinsey & Co. said the West African nation could be one of the world’s top 20 economies by 2030 with a consumer base exceeding the current populations of France and Germany. (Bloomberg)

  • Halloween Superstores Turns Abandoned Buildings into Fantastical Shop

Several costume retailers in the US state of New Jersey are already in the Halloween spirit, taking over abandoned buildings and turning them into outlandish costume shops. Halloween Express is one such store which is getting ready to open once it gets the blessing of the town’s fire marshal. Dozens of costume stores are already open around the state and scores more will be cropping up in giant empty buildings over the next two weeks. Kim Hanstein, manager of Halloween Adventure, a chain of Halloween superstores, said the company is seeking vacant buildings on busy highways once occupied by departed chains like Borders, Circuit City and J&R Electronics. (NJ.com)

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