Tuesday, July 16, 2019

From Old Navy to Madewell: How sub-brands grow up to eat their parents

Retail Dive
They're not designed to be predators. But sometimes a sub-brand ultimately does a flagship more harm than good.

The theory is often sound: create a new brand to better compete with rivals, which often includes emerging businesses that are disrupting your offer. But the result can mean that your customers drift to that new entity, especially if it was developed as a cheap alternative, and subsequently abandon the original. That can induce not just financial and sales defeats, but also a brand conundrum.. . . more

Four Emerging Technologies in Retail Real Estate

From IoT systems to space-sharing platforms, bricks-and-mortar retail is seeing plenty of new technologies.

Ninety percent of worldwide retail sales are still done in physical stores, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence report. In addition, 43 percent of consumers are likely to spend more money shopping at a store that offers a meaningful experience, according to a 2019 Storefront retail trends report. Technology tools can often be used to enhance retail revenue or solve issues with in-store shopping. The technologies outlined below are attempting to do just that. . . . more

Rent-A-Center to make $47.5M acquisition

Dallas Business Journal
Plano-based Rent-A-Center Inc. (Nasdaq: RCII) plans to acquire Merchants Preferred for $47.5 million in a deal expected to close in the third quarter, the company announced Monday.

The deal for Atlanta-based Merchants Preferred, which provides convenient lease-purchasing services to furniture and appliance merchants, will add an additional 2,500 locations to Rent-A-Center’s Acceptance Now platform. . . . more

Online sales will reach $645 billion in 2020; but growth slowing

Chain Store Age
Online retail sales growth may have reached an inflection point.

Online sales growth has slowed for four consecutive quarters for the first time since 2012, according to FTI Consulting’s 2019 U.S. Online Retail Forecast, and may have reached an inflection point that could result in slowing growth moving forward. The Retail & Consumer Products practice at FTI expects U.S. online retail sales of $575 billion in 2019, a 12.3% increase over 2018. That compares to a 14.2% increase in 2018, when the market grew from $450 billion and topped $500 billion for the first time, and a 15.6% increase in 2017.. . . more

U.S. retail sales beat expectations in June

Yahoo Finance
U.S. retail sales increased more than expected in June, pointing to strong consumer spending, which could help to blunt some of the hit on the economy from weak business investment. The Commerce Department said on Tuesday retail sales rose 0.4% last month as households stepped up purchases of motor vehicles and a variety of other goods. Data for May was revised slightly down to show retail sales increasing 0.4%, instead of increasing 0.5% as previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales edging up 0.1% in June. Compared to June last year, retail sales advanced 3.4%.. . . more

Monday, July 15, 2019

Dollar General shifts strategy to draw wealthier customers

Dollar General is expanding its offerings to include home furnishings, kitchenware and party supplies, in a bid to attract wealthier customers.

Roughly 75 percent of the bargain chain’s $25 billion in sales comes from such low-margin items as food; cleaning and household supplies; and personal-care products, but these have been squeezing the profit margin, reports CNN. So over the past year, Dollar General has been introducing such items as home decorations, pillows and candles. These will be on the shelves in roughly 2,500 Dollar General stores by year-end — about 15 percent of the chain's 15,000 units nationwide.. . . more

GameStop partners to develop new store concepts and in-store experiences

Chain Store Age
GameStop is doubling down on brick-and-mortar.

The world’s largest video game retailer is partnering with global design firm R/GA to develop and piloting new and streamlined physical store concepts, introducing new ways for gamers to try new titles before they buy them, and giving stores a unique layout and purpose that appeal to gamers. From store concepts that offer competitive sessions in home-grown e-Leagues to locations that sell strictly retro gaming software and hardware, GameStop plans to pilot the new store concepts in a “select market.”. . . more

Target launches 'tween' brand in time for back-to-school rush

Chicago Tribune
Target Corp. on Saturday rolled out a new owned-brand line of clothing, electronics and school supplies aimed at 9- to 13-year-old girls and strategically timed the launch during the back-to-school season.

The assortment, marketed under the name More than Magic, is the first multiproduct category line that Target both owns and designed from the ground up.

With 500 items under $30, it includes apparel, jewelry, journals and accessories such as small bags and hair brushes with positive messages such as "Dream big" or "You don't have to be perfect to be amazing." It also includes paraben-free makeup and volume-limiting headphones.. . . more

Survey: Consumers prefer the same online retailers across generations

Chain Store Age
The four most popular e-commerce sites have the same ranking among three key age demographics.

According to a new survey of 983 U.S. consumers from custom signage provider Signs.com, the four most frequently shopped online retailers for Baby Boomers, Gen X, and millennials are Amazon, Walmart, eBay, and Target. Discrepancies do not start until the fifth-place ranking, which is held by Kohl’s for Baby Boomers, Costco for Gen X, and Best Buy for millennials.. . . more

Barneys New York explores options that include bankruptcy

U.S. luxury department store operator Barneys New York Inc is exploring options that include a bankruptcy filing, as it struggles with high rents and changing consumer tastes, people familiar with the matter said on Saturday.

The nearly 100-year-old retailer, known for its high-end designer collection, is working with law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP to prepare for a potential bankruptcy filing that could come in the coming weeks, one of the sources said.. . . more

Store closures accelerate and may top 12,000 in 2019. Here’s what’s closed so far this year

Despite the year being more than halfway over, the pace of store closures doesn’t appear to be slowing down in the retail industry. More companies piled on the bad news this week.

So far, 7,062 store closures have been announced by U.S. retailers this year, according to a tracking done by Coresight Research. And the tally could top 12,000 by the end of 2019, setting a new record, Coresight says. Last year, Coresight tracked 5,524 store closures, down more than 30% from an all-time high of 8,139 closures announced in 2017.. . . more

Will Salem, N.H., be the site of Boston’s best new town center?

Chain Store Age
It will have 800,000 sq. ft. of “best in class” retail. It will have a million sq. ft. of Class A office space. It will have 900 residential units. It will have a “high energy” entertainment district with a 6-acre lake sitting in the middle of it.

What it does not have that residents and tenants of new developments in booming Boston do have is state income taxes.. . . more

Nordstrom Really Needs an Anniversary Sale Win

If you’ve spent any time in the Instagram fashion bubble recently, you probably know that Nordstrom Inc. is holding a massive promotional event that kicks into high gear on Friday. It’s called the Anniversary Sale, and it’s a weeks-long run of price reductions on new merchandise that the retailer has done a remarkable job of getting the fashion influencer-set to hype.

This time around, the deals bonanza represents an especially important test for the department store. Some of it has to do with the timing. Wall Street sentiment has curdled on this chain in recent months. In fact, Nordstrom is the worst-performing stock in the S&P 500 Index year-to-date. . . . more

Why Prime Day is vital to Amazon

Boston Business Journal
Beyond the revenue boost Amazon will get from customers eager to snap up cheap electronics, apparel and beauty products, the event’s greater value may be the people it recruits to Prime, the membership programme customers must join to access Prime Day discounts.

With Amazon’s revenue growth slowing — to a four-year low of 16.9 per cent in the first quarter — Prime is an important factor in improving the company’s margins and building out new businesses, including advertising, that will power future growth.. . . more

Friday, July 12, 2019

Cinnaholic Celebrates Monumental Growth in First Half of 2019

Cinnaholic, the gourmet cinnamon roll bakery acclaimed for serving innovative plant-based cinnamon roll creations, announced today record-breaking growth in the first half of 2019. The brand has already opened 10 franchise locations since January in new markets including New Jersey, Houston, Phoenix and Ottawa, Ontario, bringing its total location count to 38 units.

The brand projects a strong growth trajectory with newly signed agreements in San Antonio and Austin, Texas; Tulsa, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Tampa and Coral Springs, Florida; Nashua, New Hampshire; and Birmingham, Alabama. With more than 100 locations in the development pipeline, Cinnaholic is on track to reach 50 locations by the end of 2019 and open another 25 by the end of 2020.. . . more

Three non-Amazon metrics to watch during Prime Day

Chain Store Age
The retail industry will be focused on Amazon’s performance this Prime Day, but some other statistics are worth tracking, too.

Retail observers are anxiously awaiting Prime Day (July 15-16) to get a better sense of how strong Amazon is right now. News flash – however the final figures turn out, Amazon is doing just fine.

But by expanding their attention beyond Amazon, industry experts can gain valuable insight into what is happening in the broader world of retail. Here are three other metrics worth following. . . . more

Fred’s closing more stores

Chain Store Age
Fred’s Inc.’s store footprint keeps shrinking.

The embattled retailer announced that it will close an additional 129 retail stores and hold clearance sales across all locations in an effort to refocus its product mix, simplify its store portfolio and repay debt. This is Fred’s fourth round of closings — the chain has closed some 300 stores during the past few months — and, when completed, will leave it with 80 locations, centered primarily around its distribution center in Dublin, Ga.. . . more

America has fallen out of love with the suburbs

Fast Company
The Boston metro area may be the first region in America to claim that it’s put an end to sprawl.

“There’s no leasing activity happening in the drivable suburbs,” says Tracy Hadden Loh, senior data scientists at the George Washington University School for Businesses’ Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis. “All of the new demand for retail, office, and multifamily rental space is going to walkable, urban places.”. . . more

Charming Charlie to close all stores

Chain Store Age
Charming Charlie is closing up shop.

The jewelry and accessories retailer has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy — the second time in less than two years — with plans to close all of its 261 stores. Going-out-of-business sales are already underway in many locations, with all stores expected to close no later than Aug. 31. Charming Charlie’s website is no longer taking orders.. . . more

Pembroke’s plan to overhaul Seaport World Trade Center gets city OK

Boston Business Journal
Pembroke Real Estate, the real estate arm of Boston-based Fidelity Investments, has been approved to overhaul the Seaport World Trade Center. The Boston Planning and Development Agency signed off on the plan Thursday.

Features of the project include adding cutouts and “public niches” along the long facade of the Seaport World Trade Center, which extends along Commonwealth Pier, as well as interior courtyards for office tenants. Other features include creating 45,000 square feet of retail within a new street-front colonnade in the Seaport World Trade Center Headhouse, adding a public terrace on the Headhouse’s upper level, and creating a 25,000-square-foot open-air public Harbor Plaza.. . . more

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Bed Bath & Beyond to Review Assets Under Pressure From Activists

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., the home-goods retailer that also owns Cost Plus World Market and Christmas Tree Shops, is reviewing its portfolio of store brands as part of a turnaround plan.

The brand review is one step in a four-part strategy that interim chief Mary Winston outlined Wednesday in her first major move since taking the helm in May from Steven Temares. He stepped down under pressure from activist investors.. . . more

ZIPS Dry Cleaners Presses On With Aggressive Expansion

With more than 60 locations and a burgeoning development pipeline, ZIPS Dry Cleaners, known for its revolutionary one-price, same-day business model, is making all the right moves as a top franchise intent on owning the No. 1 spot in every operating market.

To zero in on what makes ZIPS Dry Cleaners such a compelling consumer concept and best-in-class franchise proposition, just do the math.. . . more

Retail Rents Are Rising Across the Board, But at a Glacial Pace

Despite continuing U.S. store closures, retail rental rates are trending slightly higher, and some argue that the overall retail sector is in relatively good shape.

“When you take all retail product types, the overall asking rents are going up,” says James Cook, Americas director of retail research with real estate services firm JLL. “That belies or goes against the popular narrative of the day.”. . . more

World Trade Center Mall Has a Plan to Get You to Stick Around

There are always crowds at the shopping mall inside the Oculus transit hub in lower Manhattan: commuters rushing to their trains, tourists wandering about after a stop at the nearby 9/11 Memorial & Museum or a photo shoot at the Statue of Liberty.

The mammoth, butterfly-shaped Oculus draws as many as 120 million visits each year -- often people passing through on their way to somewhere else. Visitors spend just a little over a half hour on average at the mall, Westfield World Trade Center. Now, its operator has plans to get them to linger longer.. . . more

McDonald's Franchisees Call Chicken With Chick-Fil-A

The Street
McDonald's U.S. franchisees are getting tired of playing chicken with Chick-fil-A.

A group representing national franchisee owners of McDonald's restaurants on Wednesday balked at their parent company for not offering a chicken sandwich that fairly competes with southern rival Chick-fil-A.

"A Chicken Sandwich at McDonald's should be our top priority," the National Owners Association board said in an email addressed to fellow operators. "JFK called for a man on the moon; our call should be a category leading chicken sandwich.". . . more

Mega-Mall Vs. Mall Next Door? A Shopping Showdown In The Garden State

Westfield Garden State Plaza has been ranked one of the 10 best performing malls in the United States. The New York Times has called it “perhaps the single most influential mall in the country” because it is a favorite of Wall Street analysts, who grade retailers based on what they see there.

So why is it embarking on an ambitious plan to transform itself from a suburban mall into a live, work, play community with apartments, offices and public parks?

First, it sees an existential threat to all malls in the digital age if they don’t evolve. Second, it sees a more immediate threat—the American Dream mega-mall under construction ten miles away, in the New Jersey Meadowlands.. . . more

Goldman gets bullish on big box retailers, likes Target, Home Depot and Walmart

In a world of retail “winners and losers” Goldman Sachs is betting on big-box retailers it feels will shoot up over the next year.

The firm recommends Target, Costco, Home Depot and Walmart among others because of their strong market share growth, defensiveness against an unknown trade war with China and years of investments finally paying off.. . . more

​Fast-food chains to trial licence plate recognition in drive-throughs

Boston Business Journal
Drive-throughs have been a staple of American life since the mid 20th century, but how they work — and how well they know you — is about to change.

Fast-food chains are looking to deploy cameras that recognise licence plates in order to identify customers, personalise digital menus and speed up sales. Coffee chain Starbucks began trialling such a system in Korea last year, with customers who preregistered their cars, but restaurants in the US are now looking to follow suit.. . . more

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Does the world still need Babies R Us?

Retail Dive
It's been a little over a year since bankrupt Toys R Us outlined a plan to liquidate all of its U.S. operations, which not only included the namesake brand, but also Babies R Us.

Before Toys R Us became a leader in the toy industry, the company had its beginnings in the baby furniture business. Founder Charles Lazarus opened "Children's Bargain Town" in 1948 — nearly 50 years before the first Babies R Us opened in Westbury, New York. . . . more

Commercial Lease Assignments: A Tale of Two Leases and A Landlord’s Right to Recapture

Commercial leases typically contain standard protections for landlords that may be potential pitfalls for tenants seeking to assign or transfer interests in a lease. A lease recapture provision permits a landlord to terminate a lease and “recapture” the leased premises when the tenant requests landlord’s consent to assign, sublease or transfer the lease. These recapture rights, which are frequently overlooked, can actually have shocking results for tenants.

In order to assign a lease, the landlord’s consent is required. The Texas Property Code provides that leases, unlike certain other commercial contracts, are not assignable without a landlord’s prior written consent. Many leases enlarge the obligation to get consent by expressly preventing the tenant from selling or changing ownership interests in the tenant without landlord’s consent. . . . more

Consumers putting off making purchases until Prime Day

Chain Store Age
More than half of consumers (52%) will put off making a purchase in anticipation of Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Day deal.

That’s according to a survey by PwC. More than 60% of the 1,000 consumers surveyed said they signed up for Prime membership to take advantage of Prime Day discounts. But not everyone will shop at just Amazon. Fifty-five percent of respondents said they will shop around for deals from other retailers.. . . more

Cheap eats get more expensive as a higher minimum wage forces restaurants to raise prices

Chicago Tribune
Some research has found that raising the minimum wage has a modest impact on consumer prices. A University of California at Berkeley, study published last year examined online menu prices at nearly 900 restaurants in San Jose, Calif., before and after the city raised its minimum wage from $8 to $10 in 2013 and found an average price increase of just 1.45%.

But other studies find steeper price effects as the wage climbs higher. And as the price gap widens between eating out and eating in, some consumers may be more inclined to cook at home than pay $8 for a burrito they used to get for $6.. . . more

Don’t expect back-to-school spending to give retailers a lift, Deloitte projects spending will be relatively flat

If retailers were hoping that the back-to-school shopping season would inspire consumers to spend more, they’re going to be disappointed.

A new survey from Deloitte suggests spending during the second busiest shopping period of the year will be about flat with year-ago levels. Consumers shopping for back-to-school clothing, school supplies and electronics for children in grades K-12 are expected to spend $27.8 billion this year, up just 1.8% from 2018, the survey found. . . . more

Domestic Private Investors Become the Fastest-Growing Buyer Pool for Multi-Tenant Retail Centers

Private investors have become the fastest growing buyer pool for retail centers due to low interest rates and an increase in 1031 and 1033 exchange activity, according to research from brokerage firm Stan Johnson Company and Real Capital Analytics (RCA).

Private domestic investors represented approximately 72 percent of the buyer pool for multi-tenant retail in 2018, based on sales volume, according to Stan Johnson and RCA. That’s a significant increase from around 42 percent in 2014.. . . more

Macy’s new ‘story’ is the outdoors

Chain Store Age
Macy’s is celebrating the great outdoors — with a little help from Dick’s Sporting Goods and Miracle-Gro — in its latest experiential store concept.

The department store retailer has added Outdoor Story shops to 36 locations nationwide. The shops are the second iteration of Story at Macy’s, and come about 14 months after Macy’s acquired Story, the experiential Manhattan retailer that reinvents itself with a new theme every couple of months.. . . more

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Restaurants Unlimited files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Restaurants Unlimited, a Seattle-based company that operates 35 fine-dining and polished casual restaurants in six states, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the District Court of Delaware, citing rising minimum wages in its core markets, specifically Seattle, San Francisco and Portland, Ore., as well as the company’s own expansion and a general national trend away from casual dining.. . . more

Boston Market shutters 10% of stores

Boston Market said Monday that it has closed 45 stores, or about 10% of its 454-unit system, due to store underperformance, according to a letter circulated by CEO Frances Allen to employees.

The Golden, Colo.-based chain owned by Sun Capital Partners Inc., closed six restaurants on June 30, while the remaining 39 closed on July 7. . . . more

Kohl’s goes nationwide with Amazon returns

Kohl’s “biggest” initiative of the year involves Amazon.

The department store retailer is now accepting unpackaged Amazon returns at its more than 1,100 stores nationwide. Kohl’s and Amazon previously piloted the program in some 100 Kohl stores in the Los Angeles, Chicago, and Milwaukee markets. In April, the chain announced it planned to roll out the service to all stores in July. . . . more

Parent company of Famous Footwear, other brands to open stores in China

Caleres is expanding globally.

The footwear company said it will begin to distribute footwear in greater China, including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, through a joint venture with Brand Investment Holding, a member of the Gemkell Group. The venture will kick off with Caleres’ Naturalizer and Sam Edelman brands, which will be marketed and sold across multiple channels, including branded retail stores and e-commerce sites. . . . more

Report: Some Amazon workers plan Prime Day stoppage

At least one Amazon warehouse may not operate at full capacity for part of the upcoming Prime Day sales event. . . . more

Revival Café & Kitchen Plans to Open a Newbury Street Location

Boston Magazine
A local coffee and sandwich shop with two locations on the other side of the river is making moves to open a Back Bay spot: Revival Café & Kitchen is going before the City of Boston Licensing Board this week to open a locationat 103 Newbury St. . . . more

Monday, July 8, 2019

Primark sales grow 4 percent, continues retail expansion

Fashion United
Primark, part of the diversified group Associated British Foods plc has announced through a statement that sales in the year-to-date were 4 percent ahead of last year at constant currency and actual exchange rates, driven by increased selling space but offset by a decline in like-for-like sales. For the full year, the company expects good profit growth in Primark and, group adjusted earnings per share are expected to be in line with the previous year. . . . more

Big Lots to celebrate the grand opening of 17 Nashville-area stores

Big Lots will be celebrating the grand opening of 17 newly remodeled stores throughout the Nashville area – including the Tullahoma store - on Friday, July 26. . . . more

uBreakiFix Opens 25 New Stores in Q2, Celebrates 10th Anniversary and 500th Store Opening

Yahoo Finance
uBreakiFix announced significant growth for the second quarter of 2019, boasting a total of 25 new stores. These second quarter additions bring the brand’s total footprint to 522 stores across North America.

The brand’s highest growth markets included Texas, with four new locations; Ontario, with three new locations; and Oklahoma—a new market for the brand, which welcomed three locations in Q2, including the uBreakiFix’s 500th store opening in Tulsa on April 10.. . . more

Long-delayed mega-mall sets opening date

The waiting may finally be over.

American Dream, the 3 million-sq.-ft. retail and entertainment destination located next to Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., announced it will open on Friday, October 25, 2019. It is the first time the developer — Triple Five Group — has set a specific date for the opening. In May, it announced a “fall” opening and back in March, it had announced a “late summer’ opening. . . . more

Pier 1 Imports’ Q1 loss widens; ups store closures

Pier 1 Imports continued to bleed in the first quarter as its loss nearly tripled and its sales continued to slide.

The home decor retailer, which is working to turnaround its ailing business, reported a net loss of $81.7 million, or $19.97 a share, for the period ended June 1, compared with a loss of $28.5 million, or $7.11 a share, in the year ago. (Pier 1 completed a 1-for-20 reverse stock split on June 20.). . . more

Vision benefits giant makes a power play in physical store strategy

As the lines between health care and retail continue to blur, VSP’s newest deal is poised to give the company a strong foothold in the retail marketplace.

VSP Global, whose businesses include national vision benefits company VSP Vision Care, on Thursday announced that it will acquire San Antonio, Texas-based VisionWorks — the sixth largest optical chain in the United States. . . . more

Legendary San Francisco retailer acquired

Gump’s, which shut the doors of its iconic store in San Francisco in December after filing for bankruptcy, is getting a new lease on life. . . . more

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Walmart’s e-commerce biz is reportedly racking up $1 billion in losses and that’s only one problem it has

Walmart’s attempt to catch up with Amazon comes at a huge cost — and it’s stirring up hard feelings within the company.

While Walmart has been making investments — like buying Jet.com for $3.3 billion — to try to compete with Jeff Bezos’ behemoth, it’s been a drag on the big-box business’ profitability. So much so that Walmart is now projecting losses of over $1 billion for its U.S. e-commerce division, helmed by Marc Lore, this year, on sales of between $21 billion and $22 billion, according to a report by Vox, citing discussions with multiple sources familiar with those financials.. . . more

UBS: Nordstrom is a 'no-growth retailer'

Retail Dive
Nordstrom and even its Rack off-price unit are losing customers and sales to lower-price rivals, according to new research from UBS analysts led by Jay Sole. The team has downgraded the department store to a "no-growth retailer," according to their report, which was emailed to Retail Dive.

Shoppers once flocked to Nordstrom for special occasion and other pricier apparel, but are now looking for wedding and other attire elsewhere, according to the report. The trend of wearing more casual clothing is also an issue for the retailer, UBS said.. . . more

CRE Property Prices Still Reaching for the Peak

Ten years into this expansion cycle and properties are continuing to post impressive price growth.

Property price growth rose 1.1 percent in May from April, the biggest monthly increase since early 2015, according to the latest U.S. National All-Property Index tracked by research firm Real Capital Analytics (RCA). Year-over-year pricing growth jumped to 7.2 percent. In fact, the RCA Index shows that pricing is still moving up across all four of the core property sectors. Industrial is leading with year-over-year growth of 11.8 percent, while retail is trailing with a 3.1 percent average increase in pricing.. . . more

Forever 21 Hits Rough Patch

Forever 21
After years of aggressively expanding its store count and moving into supersized locations, Forever 21 is in retreat. It has been quietly downsizing some of its biggest stores at malls across the country. 

The once-hot retailer is grappling with a sales slump as mall traffic declines and teens gravitate toward other fast-fashion outlets like Zara and H&M and online-only retailers like Asos and Fashion Nova. It has reversed course on its philosophy of bigger is better, yet has sought to hold on to its physical footprint by shrinking stores or opening smaller locations. . . . more

Target readies more college campus stores

Supermarket News
Target Corp. plans to open three more small-format stores on or near university campuses to meet the food and daily essentials needs of on-the-go college students.

Slated to open their doors this fall, Target said, are a 20,000-square-foot store on the University of Kentucky campus in Lexington, Ky.; a 22,000-square-foot store on the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing, Mich.; and a 21,000-square-foot store near the University of Washington in Seattle.

Currently, Target operates 23 small-format stores on or near college campuses in 13 states, including 10 locations opened last year.. . . more

Amazon’s Deal Making Threatened by D.C. Scrutiny

The Wall Street Journal
Amazon.com Inc. has been on a buying spree in recent years, but the U.S. government’s increased scrutiny of large tech companies threatens to slow that pace.

The company has struck more than $20 billion worth of acquisitions and investments since the start of 2017, more than its deal volume in all of the previous 23 years in the online retailer’s history, according to data provider Dealogic. The spree’s biggest was Amazon’s $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods Inc. in 2017.. . . more

Walmart leads NRF's top 100 retailers

Retail Dive
Walmart tops the National Retail Federation's measure of the top 100 retailers, in a list that the organization itself said reflects "stability."

While Amazon comes in at number two, its $120.9 billion in retail sales last year pale in comparison to Walmart's $387.6 billion, according to the list published in the organization's "Stores" magazine.. . . more

Wachusett Brewing Co. expanding to Harvard Square

Boston Business Journal
Wachusett Brewing Co., the state’s third-largest brewery by production, plans to open a third brewery and tap room in Cambridge’s Harvard Square this fall.

The facility will open at 33 Dunster St., formerly the home of John Harvard’s Brewery & Ale House, and feature a 15-barrel brewhouse, 16 rotating beers on tap, live entertainment and a full kitchen serving up “creative flatbreads,” the brewery announced in a press release Tuesday.. . . more

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Bob’s Discount Furniture puts new spin on ‘discount’

Chain Store Age
Fast-growing Bob’s Discount Furniture wants to change the way folks interpret the word “discount” in its name.

The nation’s 12th-largest furniture chain has launched a campaign designed to challenge a misperception that the word “discount” in its brand name indicates “cheap” alternatives to better-made furniture. The campaign, now running across TV, radio, outdoor, digital and in-store, is meant to clarify this inaccuracy while doubling down on the true nature of the Bob’s “discount,” the company said.. . . more

Former Sears store getting a new lease on retail

Union Leader
Half of the Sears store at the Mall of New Hampshire, a casualty of the retail giant’s bankruptcy, will transform into Dick’s Sporting Goods before year’s end, according to a mall spokeswoman, reconfirming what the New Hampshire Union Leader previously reported.

A Dave & Buster’s restaurant is slated to open in 2020 in the other half of the space. . . . more

Consumer tastes are redefining convenience retail

Food Business News
Convenience stores have evolved from the old model of “gas, Cokes and smokes” into a food-forward destination, said Frank Beard, trends analyst at GasBuddy, a Boston-based technology company.

“The industry today is building bigger stores, cleaner stores, becoming that real destination for high-quality products,” Mr. Beard said during a June 24 panel discussion at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York. “It’s moving very rapidly in a more specialty direction.”. . . more

Guess Who Just Became Amazon's Biggest Shipper

Yahoo Finance
FedEx rocked the world of online shopping recently when it announced that it had made the decision not to renew its contract with Amazon.com. The carrier would no longer deliver FedEx Express shipments in the United States. The shipper downplayed the move, pointing out that Amazon packages represented less than 1.3% of FedEx's total revenue in 2018.

In the wake of these moves, it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that Amazon is now its own biggest shipper.. . . more

The Lower Depths, Kenmore Square bar known for beer and tots, closes

Boston Business Journal
The Lower Depths, a Kenmore Square beer bar well-known for its tater tots and diverse beer selection, has closed.

The cash-only bar made the announcement via posts on Facebook and on Twitter Sunday night.

According to the bar’s website, The Lower Depths opened in December 2006 and took its name from a play about impoverished Russians by Maxim Gorky.. . . more

JLL Closes HFF Deal

Globe St
JLL said it was set to close its acquisition of HFF after the end of regular trading hours on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday—and just as predicted, it did. The final matter of HFF shareholder approval was finalized at an annual meeting earlier in the day, allowing JLL to close the books.

With the deal complete, JLL plans to use its newly-added capital markets expertise to expand in the US and Europe.. . . more

Hooters Of America Has Been Sold

Restaurant Business
Hooters of America, the breastaurant chain long rumored to be for sale, has been acquired by Nord Bay Capital and TriArtisan Capital Advisors, the parties announced late Monday.

Details of the deal were not disclosed. Previous Hooters owners Chanticleer Holdings and H.I.G. Capital will retain stakes in the casual-dining chain.

Hooters of America is the franchisor and operator of more than 430 Hooters restaurants in 38 states and 27 countries. . . . more

Monday, July 1, 2019

Abercrombie customers will soon be able to buy now but pay later

Chain Store Age
Online customers of Abercrombie & Fitch Co. will be able to take a little longer to pay for purchases.

The specialty apparel retailer is deploying the Klarna Pay Later solution for digital shoppers in the U.S. and U.K. Later this year, U.S. customers can utilize Klarna’s Pay in 4 product, while U.K. customers will have access to Klarna’s Pay in 3 product. These solutions enable customers to pay for online purchases after delivery, in three or four installments, respectively, over a two-month time period.. . . more

The wealth gap is a retail problem

Retail Dive
This month marks 10 years of an economic expansion in the U.S. that has been seen mostly on Wall Street, less so on Main Street. It's either tied for or is the longest recovery ever, depending on which economist you speak to, although it may have reached its limit. Some economists say a recession is swiftly approaching, if not already here.

That's hardly good news for retailers, considering how many have had to shutter stores, work to address new shopping preferences and, in some cases, declare bankruptcy. If howls of a "retail apocalypse" in recent years were overly dramatic, so is the notion of a major retail miracle. . . . more

Forever 21 Officials Approached Landlords About Possible Purchase

A small faction of officials at Forever 21 Inc. has asked its biggest landlords if they’d consider taking a stake in the clothing retailer, as the company’s leadership battles internally about how to turn around the struggling store chain.

The group, which didn’t have the backing of the company’s co-founder, talked to Simon Property Group Inc. and Brookfield Property Partners LP about a range of options including a sale, according to people with knowledge of the matter.  . . . more

Walmart monopolizes grocery market in some areas

Chain Store Age
A new analysis indicates Walmart is preventing grocery competition in many rural sections of the U.S., according to CNN.

A study from the non-profit Institute for Local Self-Reliance claims that Walmart controls a 70% or higher share of the grocery market in 38 regions of the U.S., and 50% or more of the grocery market in 43 metropolitan areas and 160 smaller markets. . . . more

Pier 1 Imports gets buried in a crowded home furnishings market

The Dallas Morning News
Pier 1 interim CEO Cheryl Bachelder says the store has a loyal customer base and is working to get its mojo back. But it can’t catch a break.

The challenges facing the Fort Worth-based home furnishings chain of 973 stores seem to be multiplying as it struggles to recover from a year when sales dropped 14 percent and it swung to an annual loss for the first time since the Great Recession.. . . more

Walgreens Isn’t Done Closing Drugstores In U.S. Or Abroad

Walgreens Boots Alliance is closing 200 Boots drugstores in the United Kingdom as part of a global “transformation cost management program” launched earlier this year that has figured in store closures in the U.S.

The plan disclosed late last week and confirmed by Walgreens Boots Alliance to shutter 200 U.K. stores and consolidate them with other Boots locations comes after a decision announced earlier this year to shutter more Rite Aid drugstores in the U.S. than originally anticipated. Walgreens initially purchased 1,932 Rite Aid stores and planned to close up to 600, but that number is growing to 750, executives said in April.. . . more

Tatte to open South Boston production facility, hire 100

Boston Business Journal
Tatte Bakery and Cafe, a popular local bakery chain that has significantly expanded its local footprint in the past year, will anchor National Development’s mixed-use project in South Boston with a 30,000-square-foot production facility, test kitchen, office and cafe.

Beyond the Tatte facility, the renovated Cole Hersee building is expected to have 45,000 square feet of additional ground-floor space that can house up to 10 additional retail and restaurant spaces, as well as second-story office space, said Ed Marsteiner, a partner and director of acquisitions at Newton-based National Development. . . . more