Thursday, December 30, 2010

HarborOne letter blames retailers for security breach

Brockton’s HarborOne Credit Union has poked a hornet’s nest by urging customers whose Visa debit-card accounts were recently breached to lobby their congressmen to change laws so retailers will pay for replacing cards. . . more

Target gets OK to open first San Francisco store

The last bureaucratic hurdles have been cleared for the construction of San Francisco’s first Target location. Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, announced Tuesday that the final permits had been issued to begin building the downtown store in January. . . more

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Retail Real Estate's 2010 in Review

As 2010 draws to a close, it is an opportune time to look back at one of the more dramatic years the industry has ever faced. The biggest story by far was the reorganization of General Growth Properties, which successfully emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as two firms and, in the process, fought off an aggressive takeover effort mounted by its chief rival, Simon Property Group. . . more

U.S. Retailers’ Holiday Sales Jump 5.5% on Apparel

U.S. retailers’ 2010 holiday sales jumped 5.5 percent for the best performance in five years as shoppers snapped up clothing and jewelry at Macy’s Inc., Tiffany & Co. and other stores. Retail sales, excluding autos, rose to $584 billion from Nov. 5 through Dec. 24, said MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse, which measures retail sales by all payment forms. That compared with a 4.1 percent gain a year earlier. The numbers include sales made over the Web . . more

Dare We Say It? Economic Indicators Improve for Commercial Real Estate

Ross Moore has changed his outlook for the better in these last few weeks of 2010. As national chief economist for commercial real estate services company Colliers International, Moore follows about 100 economic indicators that keep his finger on the pulse of the economy and the commercial real estate industry. And since the beginning of the fourth quarter, that pulse has quickened. . . more

Sports-themed barber chain has goal to create jobs

Greg Zotian and David Sandelovsky are doing their share to help unemployment in New Jersey. As territory owner of Sport Clips, a sports-themed barbershop for men and boys, Zotian plans to open 90 stores in New Jersey, with the goal of creating 1,000 jobs. Sandelovsky has bought three of those franchises: one in Warren that opened seven months ago and another in the Somerset section that opened two months ago. . . more

ShopperTrak: Christmas week sales slip 4.1% due to calendar shift; blizzard postpones $1 billion in spending

Total GAFO retail sales for Christmas week (week ending Dec. 25) slipped 4.1% compared with last year, while the company’s retail traffic index (SRTI) reported a 6.8% total U.S. foot traffic decline for the same period, according to ShopperTrak’s National Retail Sales Estimate (NRSE). The 2010 calendar shift that placed Dec. 26 on a Sunday as opposed to a Saturday last year had the greatest impact on overall performance. . . more

Hostile bid for BJ's Wholesale Club

Shares in BJ's Wholesale Club were up 7 percent in afternoon trading on renewed speculation that the Natick discount retailer could soon be sold.

BJ's reportedly hired investment bank Morgan Stanley to conduct an auction of the chain after receiving an unsolicited offer earlier this year from Los Angeles private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners LP to buy BJ's. . . more

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Store Openings to Increase in 2011, While Pace of Store Closings Will Decrease Slightly

The retail real estate industry will face another slow growth year in 2011, though the pace of store openings will gradually improve throughout the coming months, industry insiders predict.

Given the current brisk pace of holiday sales and availability of vacant storefronts at affordable rents, retailers with cash in their coffers will step up expansion announcements in 2011, says John Bemis, executive vice president and director of leasing and development with Jones Lang LaSalle Retail, an Atlanta-based third party property manager.. . . more

Walgreen profit rises more than estimated

Drugstore chain Walgreen Co. on Wednesday reported a better-than-expected 19% increase in its fiscal first-quarter profit.

Net income rose to $580 million from $489 million in the year-ago period. Sales in the quarter ended Nov. 30 rose 6% to $17.3 billion, with comparable-store sales increasing 0.8%.
. . . more

Mass. single-family median home price jumps

The median price of single-family homes in Massachusetts continues to rise, even though the number of sales is falling.

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors reported today that the median price jumped 5.2 percent in November when compared to the same month last year to $299,900, the 13th consecutive month of year-over-year increases.. . . more

Pop-up stores: the gift that keeps giving

Retailers appear to be breaking some long-held Christmas traditions in a bid to make shopping fever last well into the new year.

Pop-up stores – temporary locations that are typically rolled out during the holiday shopping craze to test new products – are not only more prevalent, they’re also serving a new purpose.. . . more

Last-minute holiday shoppers boost U.S. sales

More last-minute shoppers flocked to stores this year on the final Saturday before Christmas than last year, but spending is expected to be even higher late this week.

U.S. retail sales on Saturday were up 15.1 percent from last year to $7.58 billion as many people wrapped up their gift buying, research firm ShopperTrak said on Tuesday. This year also benefited from its comparison to the weekend in 2009 when a blizzard hammered the East Coast.. . . more

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Blockbuster Plans to Close 182 Stores by April

Bankrupt video rental chain Blockbuster Inc plans to close 182 stores by the end of the first quarter of next year as it tries to find a way back on its feet.

The largest U.S. video rental chain plans to close 72 stores by January 1 and 110 more in the first quarter of 2011, according to documents filed on Friday in Manhattan's bankruptcy court.
. . . more

Plans sought on York Beach Project

The Planning Board got an earful Monday in its request for public input on zoning an estimated 360 mostly undeveloped acres between Route 1 and York Beach.

The board is studying the area surrounding and including York's Wild Kingdom, at the request of the Board of Selectmen, to determine what, if anything, should be allowed to be built on the land.. . . more

Renys filling vacant Bean, Olympia space in Portland, ME

 The former L.L. Bean outlet store on Congress Street and the neighboring Olympia Sports store won't be vacant for long. 

Renys is moving in.

The Maine-based department store will occupy both spaces at 540-544 Congress St. and become the company's 14th location in Maine.. . . more

Many empty storefronts in area malls, shopping plazas in bleak economy

Shopping in local malls this holiday season provokes the odd, mixed feelings of hustle and bustle paired with doom and gloom.

The malls are cheery and strung with holiday decoration. Santa Claus is ho-ho-ho’ing and the seasonal tunes are playing. But the empty storefront windows are dark, and if not filled for the Christmas season, then when?. . . more

Investors wary of U.S. retailers playing catch-up

Holiday sales have outpaced expectations so far for U.S. retailers, but stock pickers still see several retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores and Sears Holdings, as laggards days before Christmas.

The reasons range from making bad merchandising bets to not discounting enough early in the season to being out of step with fashion, analysts and investors said.. . . more

Monday, December 20, 2010

Riding the unlikely commercial real estate rebound

For years commercial real estate has been billed as the next big train wreck. So why are some investors shouting all aboard?

A slowly recovering economy is part of it, though no one expects to make a quick killing on loans and securities tied to office buildings, hotels, shopping malls and the like. The bigger drivers of this rally are the low rates pushing investors to reach for yield by taking on more risk, and the wide open junk bond market that has allowed lots of companies once left for dead to refinance loans and trudge forth.. . . more

Next year's economy: Good enough may be as good as it gets

2011 should be a happy new year for the U.S. economy, according to forecasts from mainstream economists, although their predictions over the past several years have been about as accurate as the local weatherman's.

Most economists predict growth in the range of 3 percent next year. The more optimistic ones see 4 percent.. . . more

Inflation, Interest Rates to Remain Tame in 2011

Primarily due to concerns over short-term economic weakness and potential deflation, the Fed recently implemented the controversial QE2, the second round of quantitative easing. Over the past year, prices for all goods rose a meager 1.1%, and core inflation, which excludes the volatile food and energy sectors, inched up 0.8%. Most of these increases occurred before July.

Since July, core inflation has increased by only 0.1%. While certain goods and services have indeed witnessed large increases, notably gasoline, which has increased 7.3% in the past 12 months, and medical care, which has jumped 3.2%, these gains have been offset by flat or negative growth for other goods and services.. . . more

Improvements at Rite Aid are on the horizon

Rite Aid is a glass-half-full/glass-half-empty kind of company. If your glass is half full, you’re looking at the sequential improvements in pharmacy margins and front-end comps, and the excitement around the chain’s still-new Wellness+ loyalty program. If your glass is half empty, you’re making note of the seven straight quarters of script declines and the fact that Rite Aid had to lower sales projections … again. Our glass is half full.

Here’s the crux: The building blocks are in place. All Rite Aid now has to do is execute the potentially profit-driving programs it has in place — Wellness+, store segmentation, Save-A-Lot/Rite Aid combo stores, immunizing pharmacists and an expanding inoculation program.. . . more

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rite Aid Turns to Groceries

Rite Aid could be looking into rolling out smaller stores that focus on groceries.

The drugstore chain said it has added grocery sections to 10 stores in South Carolina through a partnership with Supervalu. Rite Aid's CEO John Standley said that front-end sales at these stores have approximately doubled on average. . . . more

Tax-cut deal wins final OK

The House passed an $858 billion package of extended tax cuts and stimulus spending late last night, saving at least hundreds of dollars for nearly all Americans and heralding the first broad bipartisan compromise of the Obama presidency.

The legislation will extend all of the expiring income tax cuts, renew a federal program to extend unemployment benefits for the longtime jobless, and retain or create a series of other tax cuts for businesses and individuals.. . . more

From Dollar Tree to Tiffany's, retailers' stocks are hot again

'Tis the first season in years to be truly jolly about retail stocks.

Retailers might be concerned about how they are doing with shoppers at this key time of year, but they clearly are a hit with investors.. . . more

Why Pop-Up Stores Are Popping Up Everywhere

We see them all the time in malls and on city streets, especially during a recession -- stores that open up amid a flurry of fanfare and then a few weeks later, they're gone. Fortunately, they are part of a deliberate retail strategy, not casualties of the sluggish economy. Welcome to the concept of the pop-up store.

Pop-up stores are retail spaces -- usually in the form of a kiosk or temporary tenant in an empty building -- designed to operate for only a matter of days, weeks or months. . . . more

Christmas To Be Decisive For Borders, Barnes & Noble

The two largest U.S. bookstore chains have offered up a compelling cliffhanger this holiday season that will seal the fate of brick-and-mortar bookselling.

In the latest chapter, Barnes & Noble Inc has put itself up for sale, while Borders Group Inc has put its hand out to lenders in hopes of avoiding a cash shortfall early next year.
. . . more

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Stores report busier holiday shopping season

Stores in the region are seeing a healthier holiday shopper turnout this year as people grow more confident in the economy. Some shop owners say consumers have been buying earlier and spending more so far this season as well. The outlook in MetroWest and the Milford area mirrors an overall positive trend in the U.S. retail market, as national projections forecast a rise in sales this holiday season compared to last year. . . more

Toys ‘R’ Us to stay open round-the-clock Dec. 22 until 10 p.m., Dec.24

Toys "R" Us announced that its stores nationwide will remain open for 88 consecutive hours beginning at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 21 and continuing through 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve. It’s is the first time that the company’s stores across the country will stay open 24-hours per day during the final countdown to Christmas. . . more

Dollar General Ahead of Count in New Stores; Looks To Up it More

Dollar General Corp. in Goodlettsville, TN, has pumped nearly $260 million into new property and equipment so far this year. . . more

How Best Buy Can Make a Comeback

The consumer electronics marketplace is changing. Will this year be better or worse, stronger or weaker? So far, the reports of holiday technology shopping sound pretty strong this year, with a few bumps in the road. One big bump comes from Best Buy which delivered some disturbing news.

While the rest of the market seems to be strengthening, Best Buy is having problems. Why? Is it a Best Buy problem or an industry problem? And what can the company do?. . . more

Loehmann's strikes deal for quick bankruptcy exit

Retailer Loehmann's said on Wednesday it reached an agreement with unsecured creditors that will allow the company to exit bankruptcy by February 18.

Loehmann Capital Corp's current owner, Istithmar, a unit of Dubai World, and Whippoorwill Associates Inc will backstop a rights offering that will invest $25 million in the company when it exits Chapter 11.. . . more

Pier 1's seasonal goods win holiday shoppers

Pier 1 Imports Inc's targeted marketing, product changes and decision to stock more seasonal goods paid off.

This was the fifth consecutive quarterly profit for the Fort Worth, Texas-based retailer after years of losses during the housing downturn and the recession.. . . more

Rite Aid 3Q loss narrows but revenue slips

Drugstore operator Rite Aid Corp. says its fiscal third-quarter loss narrowed, but revenue slipped as a slower start to the cold and flu season hurt performance.

The company says revenue from stores open at least a year will be softer than expected, and it is again lowering its full-year forecast. Rite Aid now expects a net loss of between $525 million and $655 million.. . . more

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

KeyPoints Annual Re-Cap

Seasons Greetings. As we approach the end of yet another eventful year, we thought that, as we did last year, we’d review some of the observations, predictions, and pronouncements we’ve made in this publication in 2010.

In Where To From Here? in the January issue, Vice President of Research Bob Sheehan reported on holiday sales for key retailers in several categories, and went on to say: “These results strongly suggest a bottoming in the retail cycle and the start of an upward trend in comp-store sales. Barring a recessionary relapse, and with the prospect of employment growth later this year, comp-store sales should remain generally positive for the balance of 2010. . . more

Retail sales, plans for hiring brighten the economic picture

A strong start to the holiday season is raising confidence that the consumer is back and that 2011 could be a better year for the economy than expected. . . more

Census shows residents, ways of life in detail

Massachusetts has a greater percentage of college graduates than any state in the country. Its population is growing slowly and becoming more racially diverse. Its residents are old, compared to other states, and their homes are the oldest in the country. Commutes are long, and carpooling is rare. . . more

Plans approved for Braintree hotel/retail development

A renovated hotel and a new retail complex on the site of the former Sheraton Braintree hotel could be open for business this summer. The planning board Tuesday night unanimously approved development plans submitted by the property owner, Karma Nominee Trust, and hotel developer and manager Carpenter and Co. . . more

Competitors may bid for A&P supermarket chain after Chapter 11 filing

Safeway, Food Lion and the Dutch company that owns Stop & Shop are among the likely bidders for some of the stores owned by the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., which filed for bankruptcy protection from its creditors Sunday.

The Montvale-based grocer, which remains open for business, is expected to sell some of its valuable real estate properties as it reorganizes the company, according to real estate and retailing experts.. . . more

Battle over building NYC Walmart looms in Albany

Walmart's dream of opening its first New York City store could hit a roadblock in Albany.

The company is eying a site in East New York, Brooklyn, where developer Related Cos. still needs to buy 20.5 acres of empty state-owned land.. . . more

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

NRF Revises Holiday Forecast Up to 3.3 Percent

Strong November Numbers Continues Retail Momentum

After a solid start to the holiday season, the National Retail Federation announced today that it is revising its forecast to 3.3 percent, up from 2.3 percent. The upward revision is due to improvement in a variety of economic indicators including stock market gains, recent income growth, savings built up during the recession - all giving consumers the capacity to spend.  . . . more

Online holiday spending will hit $32.4 billion

Online spending should increase by 11% this holiday shopping season, according to date collected by comScore. Already, consumers have spent $9 billion online in the first 21 days of November, a 13% increase versus the corresponding days last year.

In 2009, consumers spent $29 billion on holiday e-commerce purchases. Last year’s e-commerce holiday spending rose by 4% from 2008.
. . . more

Court approves A&P’s $800 million financing

A New York court has approved $800 million in financing that will allow the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. to continue operating while under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Once the nation’s biggest grocer, the company — widely known as A&P — filed for bankruptcy protection over the weekend.. . . more

No holiday cheer for Best Buy

Best Buy reported that revenue totaled $11.89 billion in the third quarter, which ended on Nov. 27. That's a decline from $12 billion during the same quarter a year ago.

Best Buy said that its same-store sales dropped 3.3% for the quarter, compared to a gain of 1.7% in the year-ago quarter.
. . . more

Ninety Nine closing five restaurants

O'Charley's Inc. has closed 16 underperforming restaurants across the country, including 11 locations of its flagship casual-dining brand, the company said Monday.

Five locations of the Ninety Nine Restaurants brand also were shuttered, said O'Charley's, which also owns the Stoney River Legendary Steaks concept.. . . more

Retail sales boost growth prospects

Retail sales were stronger than expected in November as consumers stepped up despite the shadow of high unemployment, while producer prices rose, offering further evidence the economic recovery gathered steam in the fourth quarter.

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday total retail sales increased 0.8 percent, advancing for a fifth straight month, as consumers snapped up clothing and other items at the start of the holiday season and receipts at gasoline stations surged.. . . more

Monday, December 13, 2010

Inland and Centro partner for $471 million joint venture

Subsidiaries of Inland American Real Estate Trust and Centro Properties Group have entered into a $471 million joint venture for the ownership of a shopping center portfolio. The 25 properties are primarily grocery-anchored and necessity-based community shopping centers. They contain a total of 4.5 million square feet of space and are located across 13 states. Average occupancy for the portfolio was 91 percent; national tenants at the centers included Walmart, Publix, Kroger, Best Buy, Kohl's, Staples, Bed Bath & Beyond and T.J. Maxx.

Following the closing of the sale, the joint venture procured $310 million in CMBS financing for 24 of the properties in the portfolio. . . . more

Retail Sales Probably Climbed in November

Retail sales probably climbed in November for a fifth consecutive month as Americans began their holiday shopping, showing consumers are playing a bigger role in the U.S. recovery, economists said before a report this week.

The projected 0.6 percent gain would follow a 1.2 percent October increase in purchases, according to the median of 62 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey ahead of Commerce Department figures Dec. 14.. . . more

Moe's Southwest Grill expanding in Boston

Moe's Southwest Grill has announced plans to expand locally.

Moe's is adding nine new locations to its existing five in the Greater Boston area . . . more

SuperValu May Soon Have Its Day

The rules of a paired trade are quite simple. Find a good company and make a bullish investment while also finding a lousy company in the same industry and make a bearish short investment against it.

That logic surely applies when two companies appear comparably valued. But what do you do when the solid operator appears quite overpriced and the lousy operator appears to be far too cheap? Well, you have to turn the paired trade theory on its head.
. . . more

A&P Files for Chapter 11 Reorganization

The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, Inc. announced today that it has filed a voluntary petition under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. The Chapter 11 process will facilitate A&P’s financial and operational restructuring, which is designed to restore the Company to long-term financial health.

A&P continues to conduct its business and serve customers at its 395 stores. The Company’s stores are fully stocked with their complete range of high quality products, and all existing customer promotional and customer loyalty programs will stay in place. . . . more

Wal-Mart seeks NYC anchor

Wal-Mart is again trying to open stores in New York City after failing twice because of community opposition.

A spokesman for the Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. tells The New York Times in its online edition Sunday the retailer is looking at sites throughout the city.. . . more

Friday, December 10, 2010

Survey: Holiday credit-card use drops to new low

A survey released Friday by America’s Research Group found that after the Thanksgiving shopping weekend, just 17% of shoppers were paying with credit, representing about half of last year’s level and the lowest rate in the 27 years that the firm has conducted the survey. . . more

Upper Crust said to face probe by AG

The Upper Crust pizza chain is coming under scrutiny by the Massachusetts attorney general’s office for potential violations of the state’s minimum-wage and other workplace laws, according to an official briefed on the matter. . . more

TJX will phase out its A.J. Wright chain

TJX Cos., the Framingham-based company that operates such retail chains as T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods, said that it will consolidate its A.J. Wright stores into its other chains. The 162-store A.J. Wright chain focuses on apparel and home fashions.

The company said that 91 A.J. Wright stores will be converted into T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, or HomeGoods stores and added that it will close the remaining 71 stores, including about 10 in Massachusetts, two distribution centers, and A.J. Wright's home office, a move that is expected to result in 4,400 job losses nationwide. Nearly half the 4,400 jobs are part-time, TJX said. . . more

Fast Retailing's Uniqlo May Open 200 Clothing Stores in the U.S. by 2020

 Fast Retailing Co., Asia’s biggest clothing chain, aims to open at least 200 Uniglo stores in the U.S. by 2020 as it seeks to raise sales sixfold in a decade.

“The United States is one of the most important markets for us,” Shin Odake, chief executive officer of Uniqlo’s U.S. unit, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in New York aired yesterday. “We want to become the number one retailer in the world.” . . . more

Apple and Costco Officially “Agree to Wind Down”

Only two months ago, reports were flying about warehouse club chain Costco Wholesale feeling spurned by Apple after rival Sam’s Club got the iPad and Costco didn’t. Today, it appears the relationship is completely over.

Reports indicate that Apple and Costco Wholesale are officially parting ways, with both companies arriving at a “mutual agreement” to end a long-standing relationship which included the sale of moderately discounted iPods and iTunes gift cards.. . . more

Borders Group 3rd-quarter loss widens

Borders Group Inc. said Thursday its third-quarter loss roughly doubled as its traditional book sales continued to fall due to tough competition from online retailers and discount stores and growing challenges from electronic books.

The No. 2 traditional book seller in the U.S. also said the amount it can borrow under its credit facility has been reduced because the value of its inventory has fallen and it could violate its credit agreement by the next year's first quarter if its liquidity doesn't improve.. . . more

Family Dollar will grow by 300 stores this year

Family Dollar Stores Inc. will accelerate its new-store growth by 50% this year.

The Matthews-based retailer plans to add 300 stores during the fiscal year that began in August, says Ken Smith, chief financial officer.

That’s up from the 200 the chain opened in fiscal 2010. . . . more

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Salem shops share space, save on expenses

Pam Jaynes, who owns a gift shop in Beverly, wasn't really looking to open a second store in Salem. But when she spotted a "for lease" sign in a storefront on cobblestoned Front Street, she had to take a look. Once inside 24 Front St., she fell in love with the high ceiling, brick walls, wooden floors and the two separate levels connected by a short set of stairs.

"It's such a beautiful space," she said. There was a problem, though. It was just too big for the concept she had in mind — a small store selling hand-crafted jewelry. When Jaynes struck up a conversation with the departing tenant, Jacqui Albanese, the owner of the flower shop Fiddlehead, she learned that Albanese was planning to move out because she could not afford the rent. The two women got to thinking and talking. That discussion led to an agreement to share the space and costs. . . more

7-Eleven continues aggressive growth with purchase of 183 ExxonMobile sites

7-Eleven has agreed to acquire ExxonMobil's retail interests in 183 Florida sites. The transaction, expected to close early in 2011, is subject to standard closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Included in the acquisition is a combination of company- and dealer-operated sites located in Orlando, Southwest Florida, Palm Beach and Broward County. The 183 sites include five unused parcels of land. The majority of locations will be rebranded as 7-Eleven operations, and all will retain the Mobil gasoline brand. . . more

Can a Christmas Makeover Solve Sears's Problems?

In the last few years, Sears has moved further and further away from the American icon it used to be.

Remember the Sears Holiday Wish Book? Oh, when that ingenious piece of pure consumerism propaganda arrived in the mail, usually around mid-September, I perused the pages for days on end, like a man in solitary being offered a peek of the Playmate of the Year issue. My youth, and maybe yours, is full of memories of Sears, Roebuck and Co. Our dad's workbench was full of Sears tools. Our mom's kitchen was full of Sears appliances. And, more likely than not, our closets and toy boxes were filled with Sears brands as well.. . . more

Falmouth, ME Walmart has plans to expand

After years of speculation, Walmart has confirmed that it is moving forward with a plan to expand its store in Falmouth.

On Friday, the retailer said it has agreed to take over space now occupied by Regal Entertainment Group's cinemas, next to Walmart's 84,000-square-foot store on Route 1 near Depot Road.
. . . more

Atrium Mall preparing new strategy

Change may be in store next year for Newton’s Atrium Mall, which has lost several high-profile tenants recently and will soon see its Borders Books & Music store close.

“We are pursuing a remerchandising plan for the center,’’ said Laurel Sibert, a vice president of marketing for Simon Property Group Inc., which owns the mall on Route 9 in Newton.
. . . more

Borders preps financial results as Barnes & Noble weighs merger proposal

Ann Arbor-based Borders Group Inc. plans to reveal its third-quarter financial results late this afternoon, and analysts are watching to see whether the company addresses a proposal by one of its largest shareholders that the company pursue an acquisition of rival Barnes & Noble.

Borders released a statement Monday suggesting that it views a possible merger with Barnes & Noble favorably. . . . more

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Restaurant recovery picking up steam

Securities analysts are reporting an “accelerating and broadening recovery” as restaurant sales continue to pick up steam as the year winds down.

“While a strong rebound in restaurant industry sales was somewhat mixed or more selective in the first half of 2010, the back half of year has proven to be stronger and more widespread,” said Robert Derrington, securities analyst with Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. “Improving restaurant sales trends has been a consistent theme in the restaurant industry over the last several weeks and months.”. . . more

Shoppers choosing Target over Wal-Mart

 Shoppers may appreciate Target's trendiness at the holidays -- thanks in part to the retailer's improved marketing techniques.

A survey found that the number of shoppers who said they'd stopped by Wal-Mart over the weekend was 32.7 percent, down from 43.8 percent over the same weekend a year ago. Target rose from 13.9% last year to 20.6% this year.. . . more

Talbots 4th-quarter forecast disappoints

Women's clothing retailer Talbots Inc said sales could fall during the crucial holiday season and that it might report a fourth-quarter loss from continuing operations, sending its shares down as much as 23 percent.

To better compete with its rivals' holiday discounts, Talbots said on Tuesday it must offer more promotions, softening a strategy that until now has pushed full-price sales to preserve the prestige of a brand in the middle of an attempted turnaround.. . . more

Borders aims to take over rival

Buying out Barnes & Noble would give its much smaller rival, Borders Group, a bigger and firmer stake in the digital world, but some analysts said combining the two largest companies in the shrinking realm of traditional book selling could hurt both.

Activist investor William Ackman and his investment firm announced in a regulatory filing Monday that they had offered to finance a $963 million bid by Borders for Barnes & Noble Inc.. . . . more

Dollar General to ramp up new stores, remodels in 2011

Encouraged by its ability to maintain increases in net income and sales over the past several quarters, Dollar General Corp. is ramping up its new store and remodel program in 2011 and expanding for the first time into three untapped U.S. states.

In the new year, the 9,273-unit discount chain expects to open approximately 625 new sites, some of them for the first time in Connecticut, New Hampshire and Nevada. Additionally, Dollar General plans to remodel or relocate about 550 existing stores. . . . more

Simon Puts the Word Out -- Bring Us Growth Properties

Rebuffed in his previous efforts to buy General Growth Properties Inc. of Chicago, the second largest mall owner in the U.S., Simon Property Group told analysts it is looking at several healthy mall groups to add to its global empire.

Among the possibilities are Santa Monica, CA-based Macerich Co., owner of 71 U.S. malls and Federal Realty Investment Trust of Rockville, MD, owner of 84 shopping centers in major cities.
. . . more

“Cautious, but Optimistic” Becomes the Mantra at New York ICSC Show

The second day of the ICSC New York National Conference and Dealmaking offered many of the same themes that played out at the beginning of the show. The mood of the attendees seemed noticeably more upbeat than in the past two years and everybody walked around the show floor with a sense of purpose, ready to close deals and drum up new business. Some industry insiders even brought up the word “development”—nothing scheduledfor next year, certainly, but there was some expectation that new projects would start popping up within 24 months.

“This show has been a lot better [than previous ones]. We didn’t anticipate it being as busy as it has been,” said Greg Maloney, CEO of Jones Lang LaSalle Retail, an Atlanta-based third party property manager.. . . more

Friday, December 3, 2010

November jobs report: Unemployment rate up

The government's monthly labor report threw a curve ball Friday morning as November's job growth came in far lower than expected and the unemployment rate rose to 9.8%.

U.S. employers added 39,000 jobs to their payrolls in November, the Labor Department reported. That marks a major slowdown from October, when the economy added an upwardly revised 172,000 jobs.. . . more

Target reports blowout November

Same-store sales surged 5.5% at Target during November, exceeding the company’s guidance and analysts’ expectations for a low-single digit gain. The company said the number of people shopping its stores as measured by transactions increased nearly 4%, and average transaction sizes also were up slightly with broad-based growth throughout the store.

The company is looking for December comps to increase in the low- to mid-single digit range.. . . more

Walgreens reports sales gain across all sectors

Walgreens saw a rise in sales across the board for the month of November and fiscal first quarter 2011, the drug store chain said Friday.

Total sales for the chain rose 8.6% to $5.83 billion in November, with 2.8 percentage points contributed by Duane Reade stores. Comparable-store sales for the month also saw a gain of 3.2%, although comps results do not include Duane Reade sales. Total sales for the quarter saw a strong gain of 5.9% to $17.33 billion, as comparable-store sales increased 0.8%.. . . more

REI plans Prince William County store

Recreational Equipment Inc. said it plans to open a new 25,000-square-foot store next spring in Woodbridge, VA.

The Seattle outdoor equipment retailer said the two-story store will open in the Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center.. . . more