Monday, November 30, 2009

Penn Traffic to close 53 stores

The Penn Traffic Co. has told New York officials it expects to close dozens of supermarkets in upstate New York and lay off more than 4,000 employees, Reuters reported.

The Syracuse, N.Y.-based supermarket chain’s layoff notice filed with the state Labor Department says it will close 53 P&C and Quality Markets in central and western New York by Feb. 15. . . more

Dress Barn closes deal to buy Tween Brands

Dress Barn completed its merger of Tween Brands on Wednesday, giving Tween shareholders 0.47 shares of Dress Barn stock for each share of Tween. . . more

Old Navy May Still Be at Sea

Two years ago, Old Navy decided to try to recreate itself with a strategy that has become almost routine in modern retailing: hire a celebrity designer to confer new prominence on an uninspired brand. In September 2007, the giant apparel chain announced that Todd Oldham, who had already worked with Target, would be Old Navy's design creative director and develop a collection under his own name.

At first Oldham seemed like just the kind of designer to give Old Navy an edge. He's quirky and fun, he likes bold, bright colors, and he has an all-American sensibility.. . . more

From CVS to Costco, Retailers Put the Screws to Brands

Coke, Energizer Ditched in Price Fight, CVS Bills to Make Up Profit Deficit

Marketers are facing the litmus test of whether their brands truly are indispensable as retailers show a growing willingness to boot even major, well-advertised brands to improve leverage, margins and lower prices.

Costco's
recent decision to strip Coca-Cola products from its shelves in a pricing dispute is the highest-profile sign yet that the age-old battle between marketer and retailer is escalating, due to the growing power of private label, looming package-goods deflation in the face of falling commodity prices, rising pressure on retailer margins, and softening volumes.. . . more

Shoppers head north for deals

Tax-free New Hampshire draws many from Mass.

Massachusetts’ loss is Juliana Aquino’s gain. The 27-year-old mother of two could have done her Black Friday shopping at the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Methuen, where she lives. Instead, she made a 15-minute trek into New Hampshire, where there is no such thing as a sales tax.

“I come here all the time, even though there’s one closer,’’ Aquino said at 5 a.m. yesterday, pushing a shopping cart loaded with four flat-screen TVs. “I come up here even to buy groceries.’’. . . more

General Growth a Good Fit for Simon, but Deal Could Face Scrutiny

News that Simon Property Group, the largest mall owner in the country, is looking at a bid to acquire assets from its bankrupt rival General Growth Properties isn’t entirely surprising. In past statements, David Simon, cheif executive of the former, alluded to interest in scooping up some of GGP’s attractive assets.

But Simon is apparently getting more serious, after reportedly hiring Lazard and law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz for advice on the purchase. The move is logical for Simon because GGP operates a lot of malls that would fit nicely into its portfolio. However, depending on the size of a potential deal, Simon could face government scrutiny because it might make the real estate investment trust overwhelmingly larger than any of its rivals.. . . more

General Growth to keep revised mortgage terms secret

Shopping center owner General Growth Properties Inc., which said it will file a Chapter 11 plan today covering properties with $8.9 billion in mortgages, intends to make no public disclosure of provisions in the revised mortgages related to maturity dates, fees, interest rates and amortization schedules.

General Growth believes that disclosure of details in the revised mortgages would compromise its ability to negotiate with mortgage holders that haven't as yet come to terms.. . . more

TD shows 'significant exposure' to risky sector

Toronto-Dominion Bank's exposure to the troubled U.S. commercial real estate market is significantly higher than many of its investors believe, a new report suggests.

The sector's continuing deterioration is fuelling concerns about the banking industry and the recovery of the U.S. economy.. . . more

Shoppers spent less over Black Friday weekend

Consumers spent significantly less per person at the start of the holiday season this weekend, dimming hopes for a retail comeback that would help propel the economy early in 2010.

While shoppers turned out in force as early as U.S. Thanksgiving Day on Thursday, many said they had zeroed in on highly discounted items, would buy only what they needed and would walk out of a store if they did not find a good deal.. . . more

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

To Buy or Not to Buy

Despite commercial property value declines of 42.9% from peak 2007 levels, the news is about to get even worse for owners, according to Moody’s Investors Service. In the coming months, Moody’s expects values to fall by as much as 55% from the peak before rebounding.

“That’s likely to happen, in our view,” says Nick Levidy, managing director of New York-based Moody’s Investors Service and co-author of a newly released report on the outlook for commercial real estate and commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS). “We don’t think [property values] are going to stay down by 50% for a long time,” says Levidy.. . . more

Wal-Mart, Amazon warring over more than sales

Ali had Frazier. Cokehas Pepsi. The Yankees have the Red Sox.

Now Wal-Mart, the mightiest retail giant in history, might have met its own worthy adversary: Amazon.com.

In what is emerging as one of the main story lines of the
2009 post-recession shopping season, the two heavyweight retailers are waging an online price war that is spreading through books, movies, toys, electronics, etc. . . . more

Consumer Confidence in U.S. Unexpectedly Increased

Confidence among U.S. consumers unexpectedly rose in November as a brightening outlook masked growing concern over joblessness.

The Conference Board’s confidence index increased to 49.5 from 48.7 the prior month. The New York-based Conference Board’s index, which focuses on the labor market and purchase plans, averaged 58 in 2008 and 103.4 in 2007. . . . more

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Borders Reports $39M Loss in Q3

This morning Border Group Inc. reported lower than expected earnings numbers for the third quarter, marking several consecutive quarters of declining earnings. For Q3 the locally-based company posted a $39 million, $0.65 per share loss; with consolidated sales down 12.7% to $595.5 million.

During the investor call, CEO Ron Marshall
called the Q3 results “both difficult and disappointing.” Borders is looking to cash in on the Holiday season, funneling significant funds into seasonal marketing. . . . more

Report: 7-Eleven to add 550 stores during next three years

7-Eleven will add more than 75 stores in North Texas during the next three years as part of a nationwide fast-track plan fueled by opportunities created by the downturn in the commercial real estate market, The Dallas Business Journal reported.

The chain will add 550 stores nationwide and about 4,000 worldwide during the same period, CEO Joe DePinto said in the report. . . more

57 million U.S. consumers ready to shop this weekend

Up to 134 million U.S. consumers could venture out to shop for holiday gifts this weekend, although many are testing the waters for bargains before they commit, according to a new report.

The survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF) on shopping after the Thanksgiving holiday -- Black Friday, Saturday and Sunday -- found some 57 million consumers willing to hit the stores over the weekend. Another 77 million said they would wait to make sure retailers were offering discounts before heading out.. . . more

P&C parent company to sell off stores

The Penn Traffic Co., a supermarket operator in the Northeastern U.S., filed for Chapter 11 Wednesday with plans to sell off its stores and other assets.

The company, based in Syracuse, N.Y., operates the P&C, Quality and BiLo supermarkets in upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and New Hampshire. . . . more

Barnes & Noble posts loss, sees holiday weakness

Barnes & Noble Inc reported a quarterly loss on Tuesday and lowered its full-year earnings forecast, saying it expects traffic in retail outlets to remain challenged during the holiday season.

The largest U.S. bricks-and-mortar bookseller said its loss had widened to $23.96 million, or 43 cents per share, in the second quarter that ended Oct. 31 from $18.42 million, or 34 cents per share, a year earlier.. . . more

Trader Joe's opens in Cambridge, MA

A new Trader Joe's grocery store has opened at 321 Alewife Brook Parkway in Cambridge. The store occupies 14,000 square feet within a 47,000-square-foot shopping center that is being redeveloped by Linear Retail Properties. Additional tenants at the center include co-anchor CVS/pharmacy, T-Mobile, Chipotle Mexican Grille, SavMor Spirits and Sleepy's.

Source: REBusiness Online

Retail Sales Generally Level Going Into the Holiday Season

MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse, a macro-economic report tracking national retail and service sales, today provided summary results for the first half of the month, through November 14, 2009. Retail sales were generally stable leading up to the holiday season, although some apparel sectors were showing mild year-over-year declines after the relatively strong showing in October.

"Since the spring of 2009, a generally stable environment has persisted. And as we have come into October and November 2009, some industry sectors are beginning to show smaller year-over-year declines, while others are showing positive year-over-year comparisons," noted Kamalesh Rao, Director of Economic Research for SpendingPulse. . . . more

Values Face a Long, Slow Road Back

Commercial property values have yet to reach the bottom and when they do, recovery will be slow and gradual following a "modest" rebound. In the interim, values could decline as much as 55% from their October 2007 peak. That’s the view of Moody’s Investors Service in a report issued Monday.

"We believe that valuations will rebound off the bottom and settle in for the longer term at levels 30%-40% below the market top as liquidity and investors return to the sector and property cash flows begin to recover," says Nick Levidy, managing director of Moody’s, in a release.. . . more

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ann Taylor Shifts to Loft

In the midst of a complete assessment of its real estate Ann Taylor Stores will convert 10 Ann Taylor stores to LOFT units by year-end, executives said at the company’s third-quarter conference call.

An additional Ann Taylor unit has already been converted to the Loft format, said Michael J. Nicholson, CFO. As part of previously announced plans, 28 Ann Taylor units will close during the fourth quarter for a total of 45 closures. . . . more

Black Friday traffic expected down this year

It seems Black Friday, the traditional first day of the holiday shopping season, has lost some of its shine.

The retail phenomenon, which began in the 1960s, occurs each year on the day after Thanksgiving, when stores across the country slash prices on everything from laptops to the hottest Christmas toys. Limited supplies fuel a frenzy among sleep-deprived bargain hunters who brave the crowds and the cold to be first in line when the doors open wide.. . . more

Convention center looks to expand

State and city leaders today will unveil a blueprint for dramatically expanding the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, part of an effort to make the city one of the nation’s premier meeting destinations and spur private investment on the South Boston Waterfront, two officials briefed on the matter said.

James Rooney, head of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, will outline plans for adding exhibit space, an auditorium for special events, and at least one more hotel with hundreds of rooms, said the officials, who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly before the plan’s release.. . . more

Williams-Sonoma Sees Success Reworking Leases

An executive with the locally based gourmet-cookware retailer Williams-Sonoma told analysts late last week it is making “substantial progress” on lease renegotiations as it focuses on aligning its occupancy costs with the new economy. The company on Thursday reported a return to third-quarter profitability that came in ahead of analyst estimates thanks in part to reduced expenses and better margins.

In August, when the operator of 630 Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma stores announced an 80% increase in its planned store closures to 16 from nine, chairman and CEO Howard Lester told analysts that of its “half-dozen-or-so” major landlords one-third to one-half of them that “are more willing than the others to work with the company to try to find creative solutions that will work for both of us, both in the short term and the long term. . . . more

Toys 'R' Us Gets Wound Up Again

Earnings are higher, the retailer is making acquisitions, and an IPO is expected early next year

When a trio of private equity buyers snapped up Toys "R" Us in 2005, many predicted the retailer wouldn't survive. With cutthroat competition in the toy world, some even suspected Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Bain Capital Partners, and Vornado Realty Trust would convert a number of store locations into condominiums. Instead, Toys "R" Us has expanded its revenues by billions of dollars and is likely to file for an initial public offering in early 2010, people close to the company say. . . . more

Black Friday deals may not signal retail comeback

When the U.S. holiday shopping season kicks off on the day after Thanksgiving, retailers can expect to see millions of less frightened but even more bargain hungry customers cross their thresholds.

Industry experts expect a strong turnout on Black Friday, which falls on Nov. 27 this year, as deep discounts lure shoppers after more than a year of subdued spending. But they caution it will not mean a bumper holiday season in the weeks leading up to Christmas since consumers still remain cautious.. . . more

Some Retailers Set For Holiday Cheer

Times are tough, but a handful of chains have figured out ways to make money.

The holidays are almost here, and the economy still stinks. That adds up to another bleak season for retailers.

Most are already turning to heavy discounting to move goods in a season that most analysts believe will be comparable to last year's disaster, when sales dropped at the biggest clip in over two decades. . . . more

Friday, November 20, 2009

Whole Foods to avoid big deals, downsize stores

Once burned by a lengthy antitrust inquiry and legal challenge of its merger with the Wild Oats grocery chain, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey said he'd consider only smaller acquisitions from now on.

"I don't want to make any acquisition that requires the government to approve it ever again," Mackey, 56, said in an interview in New York. "Mom-and-pop-type chains will be the type of acquisitions we do in the future. I don't anticipate any large acquisitions.". . . more

General Growth Makes $9 Billion Debt Restructure Deal

General Growth Properties Inc. reached a deal with some of its largest lenders to restructure about $9 billion of mortgage debt through its Chapter 11 case.

The second-largest shopping mall owner in the U.S. agreed with a group that includes Prudential Life Insurance Co. to restructure about 70 loans, General Growth bankruptcy lawyer Anup Sathy said at a court hearing today in New York. . . . more

Friendly’s joins consortium of chains

Five U.S. and Canadian restaurant chains, including Friendly’s Ice Cream, have joined forces in order to target nontraditional concession opportunities around the country, including airport food courts, universities and hospitals.. . . more

General Growth to exit bankruptcy by year-end

General Growth Properties expects 170 of its corporate entities to exit bankruptcy by the end of this year after reaching an agreement with creditors to extend loans, the mall operator told U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York on Thursday. . . more

Dick’s Sporting Goods Maintains Expansion

Dick’s Sporting Goods may take advantage of vacated store sites to expand beyond its 2010 plan, executives said at the company’s third-quarter conference call.

The company will open at least 24 new Dick’s units, equaling its 2009 growth, and five Golf Galaxy stores, all in the first three quarters of the year. . . . more

State jobless rate declines, bucking trend

The Massachusetts unemployment rate dropped last month for the first time in two years, and job losses slowed - signs the state’s beleaguered job market may be stabilizing.

Bucking a national trend, the state’s jobless rate fell to 8.9 percent in October, down from 9.3 percent in September, the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported yesterday. Unemployment in Massachusetts had not fallen since June 2007.. . . more

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Brigham's restaurants look to bankruptcy protection

The head of a Maryland company that owns 13 Brigham's restaurants said that those restaurants will seek to file for bankruptcy protection.

Luke T. Cooper of Deal Metrics LLC, the Maryland company that bought Brigham's restaurants last year, said that the filing could come as early as tomorrow.. . . more

Trans World reports sales drops, but narrows losses

Trans World Entertainment Corp. said Thursday it posted total sales for the third quarter ended Oct. 31 of $161.4 million, down 17% from $195.2 million in third quarter 2008.

The company experienced a net loss of $22.3 million in the quarter, compared with a loss of $28.4 million a year ago.. . . more

Lowe's, grocery planned for lower Charles Village site

Baltimore's first Lowe's home improvement store and a supermarket would anchor a $65 million mixed-use project straddling Charles Village and Remington under a retail developer's plans to transform the site of Anderson Automotive, a fixture since the mid-1950s.. . . more

Ahold Returning to Convenience

Supermarket retailer to grow in U.S. through new formats, including c-stores

Food retailer Royal Ahold NV said Wednesday that a period of repositioning is over and "now it is time to grow," and that it will look in 2010 to rolling out new store formats including convenience stores.
The Dutch company is not new to convenience—it previously operated the Golden Gallon, Wilson Farms, Sugarcreek Stores and Tops Xpress c-store chains, but got out of convenience retailing by 2005. In April 2009, it launched the Giant To Go c-store concept through its Giant Food Stores LLC unit.. . . more

DDR's $400M Success Augurs Well for More TALF CMBS

The Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility can be officially deemed a success, at least from the perspective of the capital-constrained commercial real estate sector: Developers Diversified Realty Corp. sold $400 million of debt backed by shopping centers--the first offering of commercial-mortgage bonds through the program.

The terms were private, but media reports say the top-rated portion of the deal priced to yield 140 basis points more than benchmark swap rates, and that investor demand reduced the spread by 1.75 percentage points. . . . more

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Centro sees signs of improvement in US retail sector

Centro Properties Group, which became one of the first casualties of the global credit crunch, says there are signs that the retail environment in the United States may be improving.

Centro, which is the second largest manager of retail property in Australia and the third largest manager of shopping centres in the United States, manages a $20 billion portfolio of 733 shopping centres in Australia, New Zealand and the US.

Two-thirds of the portfolio by value are located are the US.. . . more

Sy Syms, off-price apparel pioneer, dead at 83

Sy Syms, a pioneer in the apparel retailing industry and founder and chairman of the clothing chain Syms Corp., died Tuesday of heart failure in New York, the company said.

Syms, 83, who established his business in Manhattan's financial district in 1959, was the first retailer of any scale to offer consumers off-priced name-brand clothing, retail experts said.. . . more

Upscale McDonald's brings European style to NYC

Upscale McDonald's brings European style to NYC. You want fries with that? A McDonald's in downtown Manhattan became the first in the U.S. this fall to undergo a sleek, European-style makeover similar to what McDonald's has done at thousands of outlets around in France and the United Kingdom.. . . more

Simon hires advisers for possible General Growth bid

Mall firm Simon Property Group Inc. has hired investment adviser Lazard Ltd and law firm Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz to help it explore a possible bid for all or part of bankrupt rival General Growth Properties Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.

Simon has held discussions with some of General Growth's creditor groups and has the ability to put some capital into the company, one of these people said. The people asked not to be named because the talks are not public. . . . more

Target Sees $436M Net Earnings, Plans Renovations

Target executives, during the investor earnings call this morning, announced extensive renovation plans to implement its PFresh arm. The fresh grocer segment was introduced to the Philadelphia market this year with significant positive results. As a result, in 2009 108 stores now carry PFresh, with 30 opening in the Philadelphia market alone.

In 2010 an additional 350 stores will be outfitted to carry PFresh. The grocer arm will be introduced to existing stores in high priority markets. . . . more

Chico's 3Q earnings jump, sales up 13 percent

Net sales for the thirteen-week period ended October 31, 2009 increased from $394.2 million to $446.9 million. Consolidated comparable store sales increased 12.8% for the thirteen-week period ended October 31, 2009 compared to a 13.4% decrease for the like period last year ended November 1, 2008. . . . more

Economic expectations not as grim in Bay State

Boston-area residents are more optimistic about the economy and their own financial prospects than the nation as a whole, but they continue to cut spending as many struggle to make ends meet, according to a survey released yesterday by the banking giant Citigroup.

Boston’s brighter outlook is the result of the region faring better in the recession than other parts of the country, particularly the Midwest, which was battered by a slumping auto industry, and the South, hard hit by the housing collapse, said Lisa Caputo, a Citi executive vice president. But “better’’ remains a relative term.. . . more

Apple Focusing on 'Showcase' Stores

Apple last week announced plans to open 40 to 50 new retail locations in 2010 with a focus on larger, flashy flagships in major cities as part of a new "significant stores" strategy.

"Our stores are too small," Ron Johnson, Apple's senior vice president of retail, told The Wall Street Journal at the opening of Apple's fourth store in Manhattan on the Upper West Side. "Our biggest challenge at the Genius Bar -- we cannot build them big enough.". . . more

Retailers on the Bubble

Although the severe recessionary cycle has technically ended, and we've seen an up-tick in October retail sales, this thing is far from over. It will be vital for retail performance to follow-through into the all-important Christmas season, and beyond New Year’s, for retailers to gain momentum to resume or continue expansion plans.

Apparel store performance, including apparel-heavy department stores such as Macy's and JCPenney, will be of particular interest since apparel merchandise assortments are considered more discretionary than essential. Even in good times keeping poorly performing locations open is financially draining, and we should expect another wave of store closings to be announced as we get through the Christmas season, when retailers can more thoroughly assess profit and loss at the store level. . . . more

Target Considering Smaller Stores to Expand in Cities

Target Corp., the second-largest U.S. discount chain, is considering opening smaller-format stores to expand in cities.

The company is researching the option, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gregg Steinhafel said yesterday in an interview at Target’s Minneapolis headquarters, adding that the retailer has no definitive plans or sites for such stores. . . . more

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Citizens Bank takes 50,000 SF at Legacy Place

Citizens Bank has signed a lease for approximately 50,000 square feet at the Legacy Place retail development in Dedham. The bank will relocate its consumer and business banking, consumer finance and marketing departments to office space within the center. Citizens Bank will also become the official financial services provider of Legacy Place, with the bank opening a 3,000-square-foot branch as well as multiple ATM locations on site. . . . more

Fitch sees tepid retail recovery in 2010

U.S. retailers will get a reprieve in 2010, but are not likely to see a robust recovery next year, with unemployment and consumer debt still high, according to a report by Fitch Ratings.

The agency, which rates companies' debt, forecast a slow economic recovery would prevent any meaningful turnaround in retail sales in the near future. Fitch is due to release its retail report on Wednesday.. . . more

Retail store openings and closings, etc.

Since recession-related purging has ended for most major chains, the numbers from the U.S. retail industry in the first half of November are now a reflection of retailing itself, not just a byproduct of economic chaos. There are real retail struggles behind store closings, real customers behind store openings, and real strategy behind 2010 expansion plans. Without so much recessionary noise, what November numbers show is a real struggle for U.S. retailers, that is, the struggle for retail relevance.

The latest chain to go the way of the irrelevant is Trans World Entertainment Corp, which announced that it would be adding 125 f.y.e stores to the 2009 Store Closings list at the end of the holiday shopping season. . . . more

Happy Holidays: Not for Many Retailers or Developers

The line between outlet stores and mainstream retail is blurring this holiday season as even upscale and luxury chains ratchet back their inventories and slash prices. The success or failure of these value-focused strategies will determine whether some operators manage to stay afloat in 2010, according to Alan Cohen, chairman of Abacus Advisors, a Closter-based turnaround and restructuring firm.

"You can learn a lot simply by walking into stores and observing," says Cohen, who has more than 30 years of experience working with distressed businesses in all aspects of management and operations. "Throughout the summer and fall, stores at outlet malls like Woodbury Common [in Central Valley, NY] typically are full of great stuff," he continues. "However, this year, inventories appeared to be light at the likes of Neiman Marcus’ Last Call or Saks’ Off 5th. Since these and other better retailers were discounting heavily in their mainline stores, they didn’t have as much excess inventory to send to their outlet locations." . . . more

Lowe's Sees Housing Improvements

Even as the hard-hit home improvement industry is beginning to stabilize at home, Lowe's Cos. will open its first units in Mexico in the fourth quarter, executives said at the company’s third quarter conference call.

The company plans to open 13 new units in the quarter, including two in Monterrey, said Bob Hall, CFO. And despite an overall sales decline, some markets are starting to bounce back somewhat, noted Robert A. Niblock, chairman and CEO. . . . more

Monday, November 16, 2009

Equity One Enters New York with Acquisition of Westbury Plaza

During its third quarter earnings report, North Miami Beach, Fla.-based shopping center REIT Equity One Inc. said that it had closed on the acquisition of the 400,000-square-foot Westbury Plaza in Nassau County, N.Y. for approximately $103.7 million.

The property is anchored by Walmart and Costco. The purchase price reflects a capitalization rate of approximately 8 percent, according to Equity One.. . . more

Save-A-Lot to double store count, target Atlanta

Save-A-Lot, a limited-item grocery store, not only wants to grow in Atlanta, but also the rest of Georgia, said Meyer, who was in Atlanta and Georgia two weeks ago looking at potential markets.

A limited-item grocer generally carries what consumers buy most often. Save-A-Lot typically carries 1,250 items in the store, compared with the 30,000 or more items at a conventional grocer.. . . more

US retail sales rise faster-than-expected in Oct

Sales at U.S. retailers rose more than expected in October as consumers bought more motor vehicles and other goods, but the previous month's figures were revised sharply downward, a government report showed on Monday.

In a report that pointed to gradual improvement in spending, the Commerce Department said total retail sales increased 1.4 percent last month, the largest advance since August, after dropping by a revised 2.3 percent in September. Sales in September were previously reported to have declined by 1.5 percent.. . . more

Retailers tighten belts to bring numbers up

Holidays are worrisome, as customers are still holding back

Retailers cut costs and slashed inventory to reach better-than-expected profits during the third quarter but warned that consumers remain reluctant to shop.

National chains reporting results this week included Macy's, J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer. Each raised its business forecasts despite sales declines at stores open at least a year, a key measure of health for retailers. . . . more

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A&P debuts Food Basics concept in Connecticut

The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. said Friday that it has debuted its first-ever Food Basics store in Connecticut, located in Bridgeport.

The high-value store features a bright, open layout with modern decor, including colorful artwork and signage to further enhance the overall experience for shoppers. It is part of A&P’s family of supermarkets, which operates 435 stores in eight states and the District of Columbia under the following trade names: A&P, Waldbaum's, Pathmark, Best Cellars, The Food Emporium, Super Foodmart, Super Fresh and Food Basics.. . . more

Friday, November 13, 2009

Apple Inc. to open dozens of stores next year

Computer, iPod and iPhone maker Apple Inc. plans to open up to 50 new stores next year.

The Cupertino company, which started as a computer business, has bet heavily on its retail strategy, setting up distinctive, iconic stores that sell only its own products. Competitors like Microsoft Corp. haven’t invested in that sales channel nearly as much as Apple.. . . more

Trader Joe's Stakes Claim on Sixth Avenue

Trader Joe's, oh ye of endless lines, Hawaiian shirts, eerily pleasant staff, and to-die-for chipotle-flavored hummus, finally you're coming to Sixth Avenue!

The store has signed a lease for the retail space at the handsome Mattel Building at 675 Sixth Avenue, the storefront formerly occupied by Barnes & Noble, according to an industry source. Trader Joe's has another "confirmed" store opening on 72nd Street.. . . more

FDIC pushes for bank flexibility on commercial real estate

The FDIC got everyone’s attention when it recently issued new guidance on commercial real estate loan workouts.

Depending who you ask, it will either force banks to identify bad loans on their books, jettisoning struggling properties into the hands of opportunists, or it will postpone a recovery in the commercial real estate market while the FDIC clears other matters from its plate.. . . more

Urban Outfitters Renews Expansion Efforts

Reporting a record-breaking third quarter, Urban Outfitters likely will return to historic expansion levels this year, executives said at the company’s third quarter conference call.

With plans on track to open 32 to 34 new stores during 2009, the company now plans closer to its typical 50-store expansion next year. Management is calling for Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Free People to open between 15 to 20 units each, the company said. . . . more

Even Wal-Mart a bit wary

Profit up 3.2% in 3rd quarter, but U.S. same-store sales fall as result of hefty price cutting

In a rough economy, it's not even easy for Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer and bellwether for the economy, expects an "extremely competitive" holiday shopping season, but weekly price cuts are driving consumers to its U.S. stores, and Walmart.com is seeing "record hits" after it slashed book prices.. . . more

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Discounters crop up near Maine Mall

Low-price shops find the recession has cleared some space in the area and made it affordable.

The recession is changing the face of the Maine Mall, the state's major shopping mecca.

Retail space in the mall and surrounding area left vacant by national chain cutbacks and closings is filling up with discount stores, outlets and thrift shops. And while the mall area may not be ready to compete with the Kittery and Freeport outlets, retailers say adding more discounters to the mix is a draw for recession-era bargain hunters.. . . more

Berkshire Completes Investment in Grocery Outlet

Grocery Outlet here told SN this week that Berkshire Partners, Boston, has carried through on plans to make an equity investment in the extreme-value discount chain, as reported last month.

Berkshire said it would supply strategic and financial support to help Grocery Outlet expand. . . . more

Why 'Millennials' Are Impulse Shoppers

Women ages 20 to 30 represent a $54 billion marketing opportunity for packaged goods companies, but their needs and values are vastly different from the generation before them, a new report from Information Resources found.

“Winning with Millennial Women Shoppers” outlines this growing consumer demographic’s key behaviors. Compared to the preceding generation, women born between 1979 and 1989 tend to shop less, buy more during each trip, and frequent supercenters and Walmart more. . . . more

Costco Opens First Manhattan Store, Looks at Sites

Costco Wholesale Club Inc., the largest U.S. warehouse club, is opening its first store on Manhattan today and is looking at other sites.

“This is a big deal for us,” Joe Portera, an executive vice president and chief operating officer of the eastern and Canadian division, said yesterday in an interview at the new store. “We’ve been trying to get in forever. It’s very important that we do another one.” . . . more

Elle Jewelry opens first U.S. store in Mass. mall

Elle Jewelry, a brand extension of Elle magazine known for producing on-trend sterling silver jewelry, will open its first U.S. store this month in the Holyoke Mall at Ingleside in Holyoke, Mass.

The Massachusetts store will hardly be the last U.S. store the company will open, executives say.

"This is the
first of many stores planned in the United States in the next three years," William Kenney, director of sales for Elle Jewelry, said in a press release announcing the opening. "This gives the customer a chance to view our entire product range and experience Elle Jewelry's dynamic environment.". . . more

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

2 former NH Circuit City properties sold

Two former Circuit City stores in southern New Hampshire have new owners. The New England branch of the commercial real estate broker CB Richard Ellis says each location was sold for $3.5 million. . . more

Fed officials see choppy recovery for U.S. economy

High unemployment and reluctant consumers will likely make an incipient U.S. economic recovery weak and erratic, top Federal Reserve officials said in a string of speeches across the country on Tuesday.

That means interest rates, currently at historic lows close to zero, should remain near that floor for the foreseeable future, the policymakers said.. . . more

Retail Financing Flows to Favored Borrowers and Property Types

Following a year when getting a loan for a retail project seemed about as likely as hitting a Powerball jackpot, prospective borrowers are sensing that lenders may remove the vice grip on their purse strings in 2010. The big question is whether capital will flow only to a select group of institutional grade projects and borrowers, or if that pool of lucky recipients will expand.

“As a retail borrower, we faced multiple headwinds in 2009,” says Mark Garside, managing director at Columbia, S.C.-based Edens & Avant, a shopping center owner and developer. In 2009, retail real estate owners and developers found financing incredibly difficult to come by. . . . more

Macy's loss narrows; fourth-quarter outlook falls short

Macy's Inc. posted a narrower-than-expected third-quarter loss Wednesday, helped by its "My Macy's" initiatives to tailor merchandise to local demand and by improved results for its upscale Bloomingdale's chain.

The company said the results gave it confidence about prospects for the holiday selling season. Still, while management raised full-year sales and profit outlook to reflect better-than-expected third-quarter results, its fourth-quarter targets came short of Wall Street's raised expectations. . . . more

Retail Vacancies on the Rise

Landlords and brokers are busy debating how the Great Recession compares with the real-estate disaster of the early 1990s. In retail, the verdict is clear: This time is worse.

CBRE Econometric Advisors, the CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. research unit formerly known as Torto Wheaton Research, predicts in a report to be released today that available space in U.S. shopping centers will reach 12.9% in next year's fourth quarter, up from 12.2% in this year's third quarter. The vacancy rate will then "hover around that peak for at least several quarters," CBRE economist Abigail Marks said. That surpasses the peak vacancy rate for retail in the early 1990s, which hit 11.3% in 1992.. . . more

Best Buy getting on the fitness treadmill

Best Buy Co. wants to get your pulse racing over more than the hottest new laptops and TVs. Starting Wednesday the electronics chain will sell health and fitness equipment in 40 stores across the U.S.

It may seem like a stretch for it to branch into territory dominated by sporting goods stores and chains like Sears and Target, but Best Buy said it is a natural extension of their products and services.. . . more

Regional Mall REITs Show Stability in the Third Quarter

Regional mall REITs turned a corner in the third quarter, as most of the sector's players focused on getting balance sheets in order and reported a more hopeful attitude from tenants. Out of the seven regional mall REITs, at least four outperformed consensus analyst estimates for the quarter ended Sept. 30.

"It turns out that mall REITs outperformed expectations," says Rich Moore, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets. "It was a good quarter, not unbelievable, but occupancy seemed to be stable and leasing velocity was picking up substantially. Retailers are back and they are looking for space and a lot of that is coming from people looking to trade up and get into spaces they could never get into.". . . more

NY retailer Hackett's to file for bankruptcy

One of the oldest retailers in the United States, Hackett's Stores Inc, said it would file for Chapter 11 protection in a New York bankruptcy court on Tuesday.

Herbert Becker, the company's chief operating officer, told Reuters that gigantic payables and excessive expansion undertaken by the previous management were the primary reasons behind the decision to file for protection from creditors.. . . more

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Home Depot puts surplus parking space on sale

Ever think a Home Depot parking lot is too sprawling and vacant? Home Depot does, too.

“A number of stores have barren asphalt, and it’s not in anyone’s best interest to leave it sitting there,” said Mike LaFerle, Home Depot’s vice president of real estate.

So the Atlanta-based chain has a new strategy: Sell chunks of its parking lots to fast food chains, pet stores or auto parts outlets.. . . more

Consumers expect to cut restaurant spending

Despite signs that the recession may be ending, restaurant customers say they plan to spend about 20 percent less per meal in 2010 than they did this year, according to a new study.

The study by business consultant AlixPartners LLC surveyed 1,000 consumers, who said they plan to spend an average of $11.49 per meal next year. In a similar survey the company performed nine months ago, respondents reported spending an average of $13.25 per meal. . . . more

Commercial Realtors: No recovery till 2011

LoopNet, an online marketplace for commercial real estate properties, says a recent survey shows most of its members don’t expect a recovery in the market until 2011.

The fourth quarter LoopNet Pulse Poll says the number of respondents who think commercial real estate transactions will rebound in 2011 jumped to 46 percent, up from 13 percent in its third-quarter survey.

And 50 percent said they anticipate a rebound in 2010. That’s down from 66 percent in the survey taken in the third quarter.. . . more

Talbots said to be refinancing debt

NEW YORK - Talbots Inc., the women’s clothing chain based in Hingham, Mass., has hired an adviser to help it refinance about $225 million in debt, two people familiar with the situation said.

Talbots hired Perella Weinberg Partners LP, said the people, who declined to be identified because the decision had not been made public.

The chain has posted losses for the past five quarters. Chief executive Trudy Sullivan has made three rounds of job cuts since 2008, with the company saying in June that it would eliminate 20 percent of its corporate positions. Talbots posted a loss of $24.5 million in the quarter ended Aug. 1.. . . more

Calculating U.S. Retail Holiday Predictions From October Same Store Sales Figures Produces Unsettling Results

After same store sales figures were released last week, U.S. retail industry experts got busy trying to figure out how they could predict holiday sales based on October's results. Reuters concluded that holiday sales would be "tepid." Deloitte Research says they'll be "unchanged." Retail Metrics says they will "rise modestly." A little more research would undoubtedly reveal some individual or organization that sees October same store sales as an indicator of an unexpected holiday boom, and another who's certain that the monthly figures are warning us about a startling seasonal bust.

One of the reasons why there are no consistent conclusions about what October's same store sales figures mean for the final two shopping months of 2009 is because using long-term measurements to predict short-term performance is about as scientific as the penicillin experiment growing in the back corner of my refrigerator. . . . more

Monday, November 9, 2009

U.S. consumers plan to spend about $543 each this holiday season

ICSC and Goldman Sachs’ 2009 Holiday Spending Survey found that U.S. consumers plan to spend about $543 during this year’s holiday season on gifts with another $133 on gift cards. Consumers expect to spend more this year on gift purchases than last year, but less on gift cards.

Consumers reported that shopping on Black Friday—the Friday (November 27) after Thanksgiving Day—is likely to be more important this season as 16 percent of respondents expect to begin their holiday gift shopping on that day. This is marked increase from prior years, which have ranged from 10 percent in 2007 and 2008 to a previous high of 13 percent in 2006.. . . more

Upscale retail on horizon in Prince George's County

Mixed-use development with high-end shopping scheduled to open next fall

Lucenia Dunn loves her tony neighborhood in Prince George's, the wealthiest majority-black county in the nation, despite having to trek around the Washington region to buy some of the things she needs and wants.

When
Dunn and her retail-starved friends want a St. John knit, they head to Nordstrom in Annapolis or Arlington County. When they want a wide selection of gourmet groceries, they head to Whole Foods on P Street in Northwest Washington. . . . more