Wednesday, November 20, 2019

7 major store closure announcements from 2019 and why they matter

Retail Dive
By November of this year retail store closures were already nearly 55% higher than during the entirety of 2018. That's according to advisory firm Coresight Research, which put the number of closures at more than 9,000 as of Nov. 1.

The total announced closures could hit 12,000 by the end of 2019, Coresight estimates. "Initially it was something of a surprise, but I think you could see the momentum building as the year went on," John Mercer, head of research at Coresight, said of this year's closures. "It's up very strongly against last year." he added. "2018 was, in retrospect, maybe something of a lull in closures between two very strong years.". . . more

Saks Manhattan Flagship Sees Value Plummet in Retail Apocalypse

NREI
The value of Hudson’s Bay Co.’s Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store has plummeted over the last five years, pulled down by retail woes and sliding rents in a high-profile Manhattan shopping district.

The building at 611 Fifth Ave. was recently appraised at $1.6 billion, according to a filing by the Toronto-based company, dropping almost 60% from about $3.7 billion five years ago.. . . more

Breaking Down CBRE’s 2020 Market Outlook

NREI
CBRE provided NREI with an exclusive sneak peek at its 2020 Real Estate Market Outlook report.

CBRE sees more growth ahead for the U.S. commercial real estate industry in 2020, although the pace of expansion could slow thanks to already strong fundamentals that will be tough to improve upon combined with some broader economic headwinds as part of its 2020 Real Estate Market Outlook. . . . more

Urban Outfitters’ Q3 profit falls amid ongoing problems at namesake brand

Chain Store Age
Urban Outfitters’ reported a steep decline in the third quarter even as its total sales rose.

Sales rose 1.4% to $987 million, less than the $1 billion analysts were expecting. The increase was helped by the company’s latest initiative, rental subscription service, Nuuly, which launched last summer.

Same-store sales increased 3%, driven by growth in the digital channel, partially offset by negative retail store sales. By brand, comp net sales increased 9% at Free People, 4% at the Anthropologie Group and were flat at Urban Outfitters. . . . more

Lowe's calms nerves with profit forecast raise after Home Depot sales warning

Reuters
Lowe’s Cos Inc raised its annual profit forecast on Wednesday, helping ease concerns over the health of the U.S. consumer after larger rival Home Depot Inc cut its full-year sales estimates ahead of the all-important holiday season.

Fewer discounts lifted Lowe’s profit margins in the third quarter, while an increased assortment of industrial products like drills and power saws attracted more high-spending builders and handymen.. . . more

Walmart CEO says the biggest ‘hazard’ for in-home grocery delivery is dogs

CNBC
Running into dogs “big and small” has become a “new hazard of working at Walmart,” CEO Doug McMillon says.

Walmart last month started an in-home delivery option experiment in Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Vero Beach, Florida. It has said it plans to scale this $19.95 a month offering “aggressively.”. . . more

High-flying Target raises forecast going into holidays

StarTribune
Target's third-quarter results — including a 4.5% increase in comparable sales — showed that its investments in new brands and faster delivery seem to be paying off at a time when other retailers, such as department stores, continue to struggle.

Most notably, Target said apparel sales, which have been soft industrywide, rose more than 10% in the quarter, helping to not only boost overall sales but also to increase its profits since clothing tends to have higher margins. Executives noted the retailer also sold more apparel at regular price without having to discount it.. . . more

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

What department stores gave up when they gave up on the holidays

Retail Dive
Macy's Herald Square in New York City arguably launches the holidays, not just for the department store or even retail, but for a lot of people around the world.

Its Thanksgiving Day parade does the launching, that is — an event that has been televised since 1948, a year after the movie "Miracle on 34th Street" also helped seal its connection to the season, which remains strong decades on.​. . . more

3 retail turnaround success stories, and 3 turnarounds to watch

Retail Dive
Turnarounds — however you define them — are hard. That's especially true in retail, where tastes and the markets change quickly. If you are a retailer whose sales trends have turned negative, chances are your path back to greatness, or even stability, is steep.

"A lot of people think of retail as this boring business​. But it's not boring at all. It's incredibly exciting and it's changing all the time," said Joel Bines, managing director of consulting firm AlixPartners' retail practice.. . . more

A roundup of retail holiday deals

Retail Dive
Fourth quarter of 2019 is a make it or break it time for many retailers.

The stakes are high, especially with fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas making for a shorter shopping season, even though studies show that consumers started preparing for holiday gift-giving as early as July. That means retailers are focusing on ways to leverage promotions and go after market share. 

Below is a running list of what some of the biggest players in the industry are doing to compete.. . . more

Kushner Cos.’ Times Square Loan Heads for Workout Amid Rent Woes

NREI
A $285 million loan taken out by the Kushner Cos. will require a renegotiation of terms after the firm’s tenants broke their leases, the real estate company said Friday.

The loan was issued by Deutsche Bank AG in 2016 to allow the firm to refinance six floors of retail space in the former New York Times building. Rent income at the property is falling short of interest payments, according to an analyst note this week on behalf of Wells Fargo & Co., which is managing the loan. The loan was being transferred to a so-called special servicer, which typically oversees such deal talks, according to the note.. . . more

Same-store sales rise for Kohl's, but earnings guidance drops sharply and stock plunges

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Sales at established Kohl's Corp. stores rose modestly in the third quarter, but overall revenue was flat, earnings fell short of analysts' expectations and the company sharply lowered its projected annual profits.

The good news was a return to positive sales growth at stores open at least a year after two quarters of declines in the important retailing indicator. For the three months ended November 2, sales at such stores were up 0.4%.. . . more

TJX raises full-year profit forecast after beating quarterly estimates

Reuters
TJX Cos Inc raised its full-year profit forecast on Tuesday ahead of the holiday shopping season and reported better-than-expected quarterly same-store sales as the off-price retailer’s steep discounts brought in more shoppers.

TJX, which draws in price-conscious shoppers with the promise of sought-after and luxury brands like Dolce & Gabbana and Calvin Klein at discounts of up to 60%, has been steadily expanding with a program of new store openings and remodeling of existing ones.. . . more

Home Depot misses 3Q sales expectations, slashes guidance

Yahoo Finance
Home Depot missed top-line expectations in the fiscal third quarter and lowered its guidance for the full year, as sales results in the company’s home market fell short of expectations.

The nation’s largest home improvement retailer said impacts from tariffs, falling lumber prices and hiccups with its multi-year investment plan created a drag on results.. . . more

Monday, November 18, 2019

39% of consumers have ditched in-store purchases due to out-of-stocks

Retail Dive
Seventy-five percent of millennial shoppers have left a store without purchasing an item and instead bought the item online, according to the 12th annual Global Shopper Survey from Zebra Technologies. Fifty-three percent of Gen X shoppers reported doing the same.

The leading reason for leaving stores to purchase online was out-of-stock items; 43% of retail associates surveyed cited customer complaints about out-of-stocks as their biggest point of frustration, while 39% of consumers left a store without purchasing due to the issue. . . . more

Brookfield opens brand new mall in Connecticut

Chain Store Age
“This is pretty shocking,” announced the anchor on the local Eyewitness News broadcast in Connecticut recently. “Stores actually opened at a new mall in Norwalk.”

The SoNo Collection, so named because it actually resides in the upscale suburb of South Norwalk, is a brand new “contemporary shopping experience,” from Brookfield Properties that brings Nordstrom and Bloomingdales to Southern Connecticut.. . . more

Bloomingdale’s opens first new store in four years

Chain Store Age
Bloomingdale’s has officially opened the doors to its new location in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Located at the newly opened SoNo Collection shopping center, the full-line store is Bloomingdale’s first new store since it opened in Honolulu, Hawaii in 2015. It also is Connecticut’s exclusive Bloomingdale’s location.. . . more

Younger consumers more likely to shop during Thanksgiving weekend

Retail Dive
The NRF estimates that the holiday season will generate $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion in sales, a potential increase of between 3.8% and 4.2% from last year. Previous research from Adobe Analytics estimates that online sales between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday will account for 20% of total holiday revenue.

Even still, the holiday shopping season has technically already begun and will extend beyond Thanksgiving. A report from RetailMeNot found that shoppers began buying their holiday goods in July. Meanwhile, Profitero found that 45% of shoppers started shopping before November. . . . more

Haven’t Started Christmas Shopping? These People Are Already Done

The Wall Street Journal
As Thanksgiving-to-Christmas retail promotions batter inboxes and shout ever-louder from stores, some highly motivated shoppers are avoiding the frenzy altogether. The push to wrap up purchases before Thanksgiving is especially strong among mothers, who often still shoulder most of the holiday shopping within families. Fifty-one percent of moms said they started shopping before November this year, up from 47% a year ago, according to a National Retail Federation survey of nearly 8,000 consumers conducted last month. That compares with about 40% of all holiday shoppers in both years.

A shorter-than-usual period between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year is hastening the early push. Some big retailers are pushing marketing promotions earlier, hoping to coax dollars out of shoppers sooner. . . . more

REI Co-op To Open Four Stores On November 15

SGB Media
For the first time in its 81-year history, REI Co-op will open four new stores in a single day on November 15, bringing quality outdoor gear, experiences and expertise to Farmington, UT; Huntsville, AL; Oklahoma City and Williston, VT. By the end of the year, REI will have opened a total of eight new stores, relocated two existing stores to larger locations, and opened three new boathouses in 2019.

In addition to continuing to expand its brick-and-mortar locations, this year REI also grew its rental and used gear business and debuted a new in-store experience in North Conway, New Hampshire that combines retail, experiences and rentals. Over the last five years, REI has seen more than 27 percent growth in membership and 25 percent growth in revenue – much of that growth continuing to come from brick and mortar retail.. . . more

Friday, November 15, 2019

Rent the Runway and Nordstrom have big plans to reshape retail

Fast Company
Rent the Runway, the decade-old clothing rental platform now valued at $1 billion, is expanding its partnership with heritage department store Nordstrom. The two companies tell Fast Company exclusively that they will be blending their capabilities along many dimensions, including creating new products together and incorporating Nordstrom inventory into the Rent the Runway system.

For Rent the Runway customers, the most immediate and obvious shift is that they will be able to drop off their rentals at more Nordstrom locations. . . . more

How Prevalent are Rent Renegotiations for Ailing Retailers?

NREI
Fast-fashion retail giant Forever 21 will keep open 60 of its U.S. stores that previously were slated to be shuttered after the company filed for bankruptcy in September. That’s thanks to the struggling retailer securing rent cuts from its largest landlords, according to Bloomberg.

In September, Forever 21 said it would close up to 178 U.S. stores as part of its restructuring, as well as shutter most of its European and Asian locations. Now with the rent reductions, the retailer is looking at closing roughly 111 U.S. stores.. . . more

U.S. companies say consumer still strong even as broader outlook dims

Reuters
Walmart became the latest company to point to a strong U.S. consumer, adding to a raft of firms in recent weeks citing healthy demand at a time when spending is seen as an increasingly key support for the economy.

Several companies including banks and homebuilders have painted an upbeat picture of consumer health in conference calls this reporting season, even as many firms have offered more dour outlooks especially given the lingering U.S.-China trade war.. . . more

Wait. Is that ... hope for JCPenney?

CNN Business
JCPenney has a long way to go before it's a turnaround story. But the company had some rare good news Friday: It was able to trim its losses in the third quarter, and it raised its profit forecast, even as its sales continue to fall.

The company reported an operating net loss of $97 million in the quarter. That's 41% smaller than the loss it recorded in the same quarter a year earlier. In 2019, JCPenney has lost $300 million.. . . more

Thursday, November 14, 2019

As Gen Z turns away from makeup, beauty braces for an ugly holiday season

Retail Dive
Ulta is the poster child of beauty. So when analysts say things aren't going its way, you pay attention.

By the beginning of 2014, Ulta Beauty (which was then known as Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance) made $2.67 billion in net sales and had 675 total stores. Back then, CEO Mary Dillon was fresh on the job, having just joined the team that July.. . . more

Eight things to know about Starbucks’s massive new store in Chicago

Chain Store Age
Starbucks Coffee Company is opening its largest location ever, a 35,000-sq.-ft. location in Chicago, on Friday.

The new Starbucks Reserve Roastery, housed inside Crate & Barrel’s former flagship on Michigan Avenue, marks the company’s sixth location of its upscale roastery format, an experiential concept that specializes in premium small-batch roasting coffees. Designed to celebrate the company’s heritage, the roasting and craft of coffee and the locale, the five-floor Chicago outpost boasts three coffee bars, a cocktail bar and a bakery and cafe.. . . more

Brookfield Snaps Up JPMorgan’s U.S. Mall Stakes in Multi-Billion Deal

NREI
Brookfield Property Partners LP has boosted its bet on malls, adding exposure to a corner of the real estate market that some of the firm’s investment rivals are avoiding.

Brookfield recently bought JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s holdings in four U.S. shopping centers in which the firms were co-invested, said people familiar with the matter. New York State Teachers’ Retirement System also had a stake in two of the malls, one of the people said. In a simultaneous deal, JPMorgan and NYSTRS bought Brookfield’s stake in a fifth mall, the Bridgewater Commons in New Jersey.. . . more

Exclusive Research: Light at the End of the Tunnel?

NREI
In a seemingly interminable procession, one venerable retail chain after another shuts down stores, restructures under bankruptcy protection or closes shop entirely. (In some cases, it’s been all of the above.) Retail real estate owners and managers have struggled to cope. They scramble to restructure leases or find replacement tenants. The most creative have changed up tenant mixes, bringing in more entertainment or service-oriented tenants so their income streams are less reliant on the vagaries plaguing the retail sector.

The question looking ahead is whether more of the same is in store for the sector as more sales activity shifts online or if this painful stretch is nearing its end.. . . more

Walmart raises earnings forecast, expects strong holiday sales

Yahoo Finance
Walmart Inc reported better-than-expected third quarter U.S. comparable sales on Thursday as people spent more at its stores and website and the retailer picked up market share in food and other groceries.

Sales at U.S. stores open at least a year rose 3.2%, excluding fuel, in the quarter ended Oct.31. Analysts estimated growth of 2.9%, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Online sales rose 41%, higher than the previous quarter's increase of 37 pct and greater than the company's expectation of 35%.. . . more

Kraft Group to open esports arena at Patriot Place

Boston Business Journal
Esports league Boston Uprising and Helix eSports will open an 18,000-square-foot esports complex at Patriot Place in Foxborough this January, marking the first gaming center adjacent to a major professional sporting venue, the Kraft Group said Wednesday.

The Boston Uprising practice facility and Helix eSports gaming center will feature 100 gaming stations with personal computers, gaming and network infrastructure and 30 public gaming consoles open to the public. Kraft Group Overwatch owns and operates Boston Uprising, which is one of 20 esports franchises competing in the Overwatch League — a professional esports league for the team-based multi-player video game Overwatch. . . . more

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Grocery Outlet Taps Walmart Veteran to Lead East Coast Expansion

Winsight Grocery Business
Discounter Grocery Outlet has charged a former executive of Walmart and Boxed.com with awakening a sleepy store base in central Pennsylvania.

Heather Mayo, who recently was Boxed’s chief merchandising officer and spent 12 years with Walmart’s Sam’s Club division as an operations SVP, and before that more than a decade with BJ’s Wholesale Club, joined Grocery Outlet on Oct. 7 as EVP of the company’s East region. In this role, Mayo is expected to lead the expansion of a small pocket of independently owned discount stores to serve as a second front of long-term expansion for the Emeryville, Calif.-based company, which is currently doing most of its new-store growth in Southern California.. . . more

For Retailers, Toys Can Be A Holiday Gift, Or The Nightmare Before Christmas

Forbes
Toys can be a retailer’s worst nightmare before Christmas.

Having hard-to-find, bestselling toys in stock helps retailers draw holiday shoppers to their stores and websites. Those shoppers tend to make other holiday purchases, so luring them in with deals on toys is a smart move.. . . more

Amazon plans new grocery store in L.A. as it thinks about how to conquer the industry

The Dallas Morning News
Amazon.com Inc. said Monday that it plans to open a new type of grocery store in Los Angeles next year, another step in the e-commerce giant’s multi-pronged effort to capture a larger piece of the massive U.S. grocery business.

The company said the store in the Woodland Hills neighborhood would be distinct from Whole Foods Market Inc., the higher-end chain Amazon bought in 2017 that specializes in natural and organic groceries. . . . more

KKR Makes Formal Approach to Walgreens Boots on Record Buyout

Bloomberg
KKR & Co. has formally approached drugstore giant Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. about a deal to take the company private, in what could be the biggest-ever leveraged buyout, people familiar with the matter said.

The New York-based private equity firm has been preparing a proposal to potentially buy out shareholders of Walgreens Boots, said the people, who asked not to be identified because discussions are private. It’s unclear how feasible the transaction would be, given the need for large amounts of financing, and Walgreens Boots and KKR could decide against pursuing a deal, the people said.. . . more

Losing to win: Why major retailers need to close more stores

Retail Dive
It's been a banner year for store closing sales.

At first, that didn't seem likely. While retail closures were rife in 2017, that "slowed considerably in 2018," according to a Credit Suisse note updating its store closure index. But things have picked up again this year, and the firm has recorded the highest number "at this point in the year for any year" in the index's 24-year history: 7,600. . . . more

5 store concepts that no longer exist

Retail Dive
Sometimes even the best-performing retailers have bad ideas. And for the retailers that can't afford to make a mistake, missteps can be devastating.

On the surface some ideas appear to be good — expanding into growing categories, rolling out smaller stores with less expensive rent, etc. — but success boils down to execution and whether venturing beyond the core model is worth the risk.

According to Nick Egelanian, president of retail consultants firm SiteWorks, retailers that "get out of their lane have a very high failure rate when they try to get into another lane.". . . more

Friday, November 8, 2019

Burlington readies more store openings this month

Home Textiles Today
On track to add 50 new stores to its portfolio in fiscal 2019, Burlington Stores is set to grand-open three units this month.

This fall has been a period of growth for Burlington as the 736-unit chain approaches its goal to eventually reach a 1,000-store count.. . . more

Wegmans tops list of best places to work in retail

syracuse.com
Wegmans is the top place to work in retail on a national list once again.

Great Place to Work and Fortune magazine ranked the grocery store chain first on their list of top places to work in retail for 2019. It's the fourth year in a row Wegmans topped the list.

The rest of the top five included Publix, CarMax, REI and Nugget Market.. . . more

Though a Buyout Deal for Walgreens Is Far from Certain, it Would Make Sense for the Retailer

NREI
Drugstore giant Walgreens is looking to go private, Reuters and Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., which reportedly has a market value of more than $55 billion, is following in the steps of other retailers including Hudson’s Bay in testing the going-private waters.

Walgreens, which operates roughly 9,200 drugstores around the U.S., has had informal talks with private equity firms, and Reuters reported that the company hired Evercore Partners Inc. to look into a possible deal. . . . more

A bad Rx for what ails Walgreens

Chicagobusiness.com
$55 billion in unproductive debt won't solve Walgreens' business problems.

But that's how much the Deerfield-based drugstore chain likely would borrow to fund a leveraged buyout CEO Stefano Pessina reportedly has tried to engineer. The current status of his efforts is unclear, but several media outlets report that he made the rounds of private-equity firms in recent months to gauge their interest in backing what would be the biggest such deal in corporate history. . . . more

Party City Just Lost Two-Thirds Of Its Value, But Don’t Blame Only On Helium Shortage Or Halloween Miss

Forbes
Party City has become its own party pooper: the stock slumped 67% on Thursday to its all-time low of $2 a share after the largest U.S. specialty party-supplies chain posted an unexpected third-quarter loss and cut its annual outlook.

The Elmsford, New York-based company reported a 2.3% drop in sales to $540.2 million, hurt by “headwinds from the helium shortage” that dented its balloons sales. Party City, which in September said it was adding about 25,000 temporary employees for its critical Halloween business, also blamed the costumes business shortfall at its stores. . . . more

Gap shares tumble after CEO Art Peck steps down and retailer issues weak forecast

CNBC
Gap Inc. shares tumbled in extended trading Thursday after the company said CEO Art Peck will be stepping down immediately, and be replaced by the founders’ son temporarily.

Gap, which has been struggling to revive its sales, also slashed its forecast for the year, citing a “challenging quarter.” 

Robert Fisher, currently the company’s non-executive chairman, will serve as CEO on an interim basis. He previously served as interim CEO in 2007. . . . more

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Sears to close 96 more stores; gets cash lifeline

Chain Store Age
The parent company of Sears and Kmart is lowering the boom — again.

Transformco will close another 96 Sears and Kmart stores, leaving the Sears/Kmart chain with a total of 182 locations. Store-closing sales will start on Dec. 2, with the locations expected to go dark by February.. . . more

Is the shortened holiday season just an excuse for retailers to post soft sales results?

Retail Dive
While Black Friday is still weeks away, several retailers have already begun rolling out holiday promotions in an attempt to make up for this year's shortened shopping season.

Target in October announced it would offer free shipping on "hundreds of thousands of items" beginning in November and running through Dec. 21. The mass merchant touted the fact that consumers can receive such benefits with no membership required, a move that takes direct aim at Amazon's Prime membership, which costs $119 annually. . . . more

Papyrus considers store closures as it negotiates with landlords

Retail Dive
Stationary retailer Papyrus is working to win rent concessions from landlords and could close some stores, according to an emailed Debtwire report. The retailer's owner, Schurman Retail Group, did not immediately respond to Retail Dive's request for comment.

The retailer, which last said on its website it had more than 260 stores, has hired A&G Realty as it looks to negotiate with its landlords, according to Debtwire.​. . . more

Under New Leadership, Will McDonald’s Grill Up a New Real Estate Strategy?

NREI
Steve Easterbrook became president and CEO of McDonald’s Corp. in March 2015, just eight months before the fast-food chain rejected the idea of spinning off its vast real estate holdings into a REIT. But now that Easterbrook has been ousted as the head honcho of McDonald’s, will the country’s No. 1 fast-food chain as measured by revenue revisit the REIT route?

Don’t count on it, experts say. It’s about as likely that McDonald’s would launch a REIT spin-off as it would be to spot the new president and CEO, Chris Kempczinski, chowing down on a Burger King or Wendy’s hamburger.. . . more

CVS adds to store closings and announces plans to shutter 22 stores next year

USA Today
After closing 46 stores this year, CVS Health announced it plans to shutter another 22 locations in 2020.

The upcoming "planned closure of 22 underperforming retail pharmacy stores" cost CVS about $96 million as a "store rationalization charges" in its third-quarter earnings report released Wednesday.. . . more

Food halls drive mall traffic, not clothing sales

RetailWire
Food courts and halls are attracting traffic to malls around the country, according to a new survey by UBS. They are not, however, proving successful in helping retail stores in those same shopping centers sell more clothing.

UBS’s research, CNBC reports, finds that consumers are increasingly going online to buy clothing rather than visiting malls. Today, 25 percent of all apparel is bought online, according to the investment bank, which forecasts that 31 percent of clothing sales will be purchased through digital channels by 2023.. . . more

Costco and Instacart team up with free one-hour Rx deliveries

CNBC
Costco is teaming up with delivery start-up Instacart to test free delivery of prescription drugs to members.

The pilot program is limited to California and Washington state, according to two people familiar, and it includes delivery to a Costco member’s home or office. One Costco member who has used the service told CNBC that he received a text earlier this month to offer him the medication delivery option as an alternative to picking up the meds in store. . . . more

Facing shorter holiday season, U.S. retailers rev up faster delivery, early deals

Reuters
U.S. retailers are rushing in with faster-than-ever delivery deals and earlier Christmas promotions in hopes of easing the impact of this year’s shorter holiday selling season, a period that can be make-or-break for retailers.

Thanksgiving, the traditional kick-off of the U.S. holiday shopping period, falls on Nov. 28 this year, a week later than last year’s Nov. 22, leaving retailers with six fewer days to drive sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas day.. . . more

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Walmart overtaking Amazon? Not so fast

Retail Dive
Purchase frequency and even Prime membership at Amazon is declining, while Walmart is on the rise, according to a consumer study from retail analytics firm First Insight emailed to Retail Dive. In 2017, 80% of consumers shopped Amazon six or more times each month, but that has declined, to 49% last year and 40% this year, according to the report. Meanwhile, those shopping at Amazon twice a month or less has risen from 11% in 2017 to 33% last year and 39% this year.

Walmart is on the opposite trajectory, with the percentage of those making more than four trips there each month edging up from 58% in 2018 to 63% in 2019.. . . more

Brilliant Earth continues retail store expansion

Chain Store Age
Brilliant Earth opened its eighth physical location, a showroom in the heart of Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square. The 2,000-sq.-ft. showroom, in the penthouse suite of 1701 Walnut Street, is designed to provide a low-pressure environment with an appointment model that allows for a more hands on, personalized interaction tailored to customers’ individual preferences. 

The new Brilliant Earth features contemporary architectural elements, including high ceilings and glass walls, juxtaposed with exposed brick that evokes the building’s historic nature. It joins the brand’s existing spaces in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, San Diego, Denver, and Washington, D.C.. . . more

Mastercard SpendingPulse: Holiday sales to rise 3.1%; lists top 10 shopping days

Chain Store Age
A just-released holiday survey is not quite as robust as most others.

U.S. retail sales are expected to grow 3.1% (excluding automotive) between November 1 and December 24 this year over last, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse. By comparison, the National Retail Federation forecast holiday sales to increase between 3.8% and 4.2% over 2018. . . . more

Pier 1 gets new CEO — and more time from NYSE

Chain Store Age
Pier 1 Imports has tapped its finance head to do double duty.

The struggling home décor retailer named Robert Riesbeck as CEO and a director of the company. Riesbeck, who joined Pier 1 in July as CFO, will also continue to serve in that position. As CEO, he replaces Cheryl Bachelder, who has acted as interim chief since December 2018. She will remain a member of the board.

Pier 1 also announced that the New York Stock Exchange has accepted the company’s plan to regain compliance with NYSE continued listing standards. . . . more

UPS and CVS deliver prescription medicine via drone to US residential customers

TechCrunch
UPS is rolling along with its drone delivery program, working with partner CVS Pharmacy to deliver prescription drugs to customer doorsteps via its newly deployed commercial drones. UPS delivered medications to two paying customers on November 1 using the Matternet M2 drone system that the logistics company is using in partnership with Matternet.

UPS received approval last month from the FAA to fly its fleet of commercial drones in service of customers, and now it plans to iterate its drone delivery program “in the coming months,” with the aim of ensuring that it can deploy UAVs in a commercial capacity at increasing scale. It also launched “UPS Flight Forward,” a dedicated division focused on autonomous drone delivery.. . . more

Check out the Seaport's long-awaited first grocery store

Boston Business Journal
Popular California-based grocery chain Trader Joe's is now open in Boston's Seaport District – the long-awaited first grocery store for the booming neighborhood.

The store is located at 44 Thomson Place, a brick-and-beam former warehouse that's part of the Thomson Place retail corridor — a block of three historic warehouses that had served as offices for Thomson Reuters prior to its redevelopment by Invesco Real Estate and Crosspoint Associates Inc. Margulies Perruzzi Architects designed Thomson Place, which Lee Kennedy Co. built.. . . more

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Walgreens Boots Alliance reportedly considers going private

Drug Store News
Walgreens Boots Alliance is looking into whether or not it should take the company private, according to a report from Reuters. The company, which has a roughly $55 billion market cap, has been in preliminary talks with large private equity firms, the report said, noting that it would constitute the biggest leveraged buyout ever.

Reuters cited anonymous sources who said the company has retained Evercore Partners to see whether a deal would be possible, and added that several firms have been reticent, citing concerns around funding the deal and the company’s future business prospects. . . . more

Wedding gown retailer David’s Bridal reaches deal to remain in business

The Dallas Morning News
Wedding gown retailer David’s Bridal Inc. reached a debt deal that would head off a second trip to bankruptcy court, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The company held talks with lenders and equity holders from its previous bankruptcy including Oaktree Capital Group, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. . . . more

Kroger projects momentum for same-store sales, improved profit for 2020

Supermarket News
The Kroger Co. is updating investors today on how its Restock Kroger framework is repositioning the company to create value for shareholders, customers and associates at its Investor Conference being held at the New York Stock Exchange.

Under its two-year-old Restock Kroger program, the company has been focusing on private label brand growth and merchandising, rearranging store layouts and expanding services such as home delivery and self-checkouts.. . . more

UPS expects 26% jump in returns this peak season

Retail Dive
UPS projects returns will peak on Jan. 2 with 1.9 million returns, representing a 26% bump from the peak return day in 2018, according to a press release.

Returns volume before Christmas day will be even more intense in aggregate, however, with UPS projecting 1.6 million returns per day in the week preceding the holiday. . . . more

NYC’s Fifth Avenue Sees Steep Rent Decline as Tenants Struggle

NREI
A few blocks makes all the difference when it comes to rent on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue.

Lower Fifth Avenue, an area between 42nd and 49th streets, saw the biggest asking rent decline among Manhattan’s prominent retail corridors in the third quarter, falling 25% from the same period last year, according to a report by Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. In contrast, rents along upper Fifth Avenue, a swanky shopping district that runs from 49th Street north to Central Park, slipped just 0.7% over the same period.. . . more

Costco unveils holiday savings with early Black Friday deals, discounts on Apple MacBook, TVs and more

USA Today
Costco has released its "holiday savings offers," including some of its Black Friday doorbusters with deals on televisions, electronics, gaming systems, jewelry, food and more.

The members-only warehouse club is holding its sale in five windows, with some deals set to begin three weeks ahead of Thanksgiving and others to continue through Cyber Monday. . . . more

Shake Shack Cuts Key Sales Forecast, Stock Plunges

Investor's Business Daily
Shake Shack trimmed its same-store sales outlook for the full year to around 1.5%. That's down from the company's earlier expectations for around 2%. However, Shake Shack ratcheted its forecast for total revenue higher, to $592 million to $597 million.

Shake Shack defines same-store sales as sales at stores open at least two years.

For the third quarter, that metric grew 2%. A bump in consumer traffic and a menu prices helped that increase. But the figure was below Consensus Metrix forecasts for a 2.9% gain. . . . more

Where Boston ranks among places with the most franchises

Boston Business Journal
Boston is among the nation's top 50 metro areas where franchising is most popular, according to a recent report by LendingTree.

“A lot of people think about doing franchises as an easier way to get into business ownership,” said Derek Miller, senior research analyst with LendingTree. “Obviously, franchises can provide support and branding that business owners need when they get started. But it’s good to know in an area when you’re starting, is the market already saturated? Is there demand for this sort of thing?”. . . more