How Much is a Facelift Worth?

A challenging economy has more retailers focusing on store remodels, but do they pay off?

The struggling economy might be slowing some retailers' plans for geographic expansion, but it hasn't quashed their efforts to keep up with the Joneses.

If anything, store remodels are more popular than ever as retailers strive to get the most bang for their capital improvement buck and outshine competitors. Renovations come in all shapes and sizes, which is causing some retailers to re-evaluate how extensive their remodeling plans should be.

At Publix Supermarkets, which renovated 124 stores last year and expects to redo at least as many this year, some relatively minor changes have received the most shopper attention, says Maria Brous, director of media and community relations for Publix, which is based in Lakeland, Fla.

"It's the little improvements that sometimes customers notice the most," Brous says. "For example, they appreciate the LED lighting in coolers that turns on only when customers enter the aisle. That's a sustainable [element], and customers are starting to pick up on those things."

Sears Florida Development Gives Preview of Strategy

A mixed-use retail development in South Florida may provide a glimpse at the future of Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD)

The department-store chain said today that it will convert its location in Aventura, Florida, into an open-air development that includes dining, other retailers and a scaled-down Sears store. The project, called Esplanade at Aventura, also will contain a hotel and offices, according to a statement today.

Contractors Talk Home Remodeling Trends for 2015

Pink tile.Carpet on the walls.Avocado-colored appliances. What do they all have in common? Home improvement trends that came and, thankfully, went. You can easily date these trends back to the decade they were popular, and that's not a good thing. While trends still occur, modern remodeling focuses on updating your home but keeps an eye toward the future.

If you're planning a home remodeling or improvement project in 2015 and want to avoid mistakes of the past, three highly rated remodelers divulge what's trending in home remodeling: Andy Lindus of Lindus Construction in Baldwin, Wisconsin, Mike Blank of MBC Remodeling in Millersville, Pennsylvania, and Jason Hampel of Moss Building & Design in Chantilly, Virginia.

What trends are you noticing right now in remodeling?
Blank: I'm seeing jobs are starting to get a little bit bigger again. People are spending more money, but they are still cautious. For a bathroom, for instance, usually I tell people a bathroom is going to run about $15,000. In the past few years, people have done everything they can do to stay in that range. Now, they're going into the $20,000 to $25,000 range.