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Chicago Gets "In Fashion" This Friday With Shopping Festival Launch

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So the summer sales are officially over, the economy is still sucky, and the kids are heading back to school very soon. Chicago’s Greater North Michigan Avenue Association (GMNAA) and Mastercard, however, are banking on the fact that locals and visitors from afar will flock downtown to eat and shop their hearts out during the very special In-Fashion: The Magnificent Mile Shopping Festival, kicking off this Friday, August 26. The two-weeks worth of scheduled events—billed as the first style and food extravaganza of its kind in the nation—include celebrity meet and greets, concerts, prize giveaways, plus cooking demos, all geared to drive people to spend, spend, and spend more. A pair of dapper gentlemen tastemakers, Carson Kressley and Brad Goreski, will open and close out the festival, respectively. We posed a few questions to Carrie Lannon, Director of Public Relations for ULTA Beauty and Chair for In-Fashion:

Racked: What can people expect at In-Fashion, America's first shopping festival?

Lannon: In-Fashion: The Magnificent Mile Shopping Festival, currently has over 100 events, exclusive appearances, cooking demonstrations and specials, hotel packages, and other offers available for participants. Members of the GNMAA have really embraced this new event and they continue to add their offers to the list. To stay on top of the busy two-week schedule, check out our website, follow us on Twitter, @themagmile or friend The Magnificent Mile on Facebook will also receive up-to-date information.

Racked: How would you measure the success of In-Fashion...through revenue? Attendance? How will this be all tracked? Any expectations?

Lannon: Our goals are primarily to garner attention for The Magnificent Mile and to drive sales during the shopping festival. Our success will be measured by the visibility that we obtain locally, regionally to surrounding states, nationally and internationally. As well, though our members are not required to share exact sales figures, they will certainly provide feedback about the results to their businesses. We already feel fortunate to have captured the energy and excitement of the retail, culinary, and hotel community which has rallied behind this event and helped us create an exceptional "first" for Chicago, and the nation. With member feedback this year, we expect to build upon the momentum created this year, with expanded visibility to the international traveler.

Racked: Besides the entertainment provided...what is the incentive for shoppers to spend money? In other cities like Dubai and Singapore, the shopping festivals are held overlapping with sale season so discounts are pretty steep (like, 70%-90% off in some cases). A couple of cities even offer tax-free shopping. So what would be the draw for Chicago's version of a shopping festival? Our city tax is almost 11%, and summer sales are pretty much over by the last two weeks of August...

Lannon: Though the summer shopping season is over, the fall shopping season is just beginning during the dates of our festival, which were strategically selected to include a time when stores will offer new fall merchandise. Also, the shopping festival is designed to highlight not only shopping, but all that makes a shopping district exciting?Our focus is not on discounts, but instead on the benefits and bonuses that the entire area offers shoppers, though there will be some special offers. For example, MasterCard, our presenting sponsor, highlights special 2-course and 3-course menus offered at numerous restaurants available when guests pay with their card.

Another motivator for sales will be the In-Fashion Magnificent Sweepstakes. During the festival, for each $100 a consumer spends at a GNMAA member business, they receive a sweepstakes entry. The prizes are out of this world. Receipts are redeemable at special concierge desks in the three vertical malls along the Avenue: Water Tower Place, The Shops at North Bridge and the 900 North Michigan Shops. More details are available here.

· The Magnificent Mile [Official Site]