Thursday, March 31, 2011

Big Chill on Newbury Street

It’s the cold war of 2011.


Three frozen yogurt chains are opening Newbury Street shops in coming weeks — all within a block of each other — taking on Pinkberry, which opened last fall, and launching an all-out battle for your dessert dollars. . . more

Thomasville says its store network ready to grow again

Thomasville Furniture says it's a different company today, ready to grow again in a better retail climate with the opening of two company-owned stores this spring in Dallas and Chicago and a third in the works. . . more

Sony Electronics set to unveil new store concept

Sony Electronics will unveil its newly branded Sony store on Friday, in Westfield Century City, Los Angeles. The 4,200-sq.-ft. store is designed to allow consumers to explore the complete Sony experience, including electronics, games, movies, music, network services and future technologies.

"The new store in Century City is a significant step in building a blueprint for future Sony stores, both in the U.S. and around the world," said Kiyoshi Shikano, global sales and marketing officer, Sony Corp.. . . more

Q1 Grocery Inflation at 6%

Commodity cost increases and higher energy and freight costs brought significant food inflation in the first quarter of the calendar year, according to a study from Customer Growth Partners here, which is scheduled to be released on Thursday.

The inflation results are based on field studies of 30-item baskets at Wal-Mart, Target and Aldi stores in four states. . . . more

Wal-Mart to go back to low prices, broad-based inventory

The world’s largest retailer needs to get back to its roots as the lowest priced one-stop-shop for consumers, Wal-Mart’s U.S. CEO Bill Simon told USA TODAY on Wednesday.

Wal-Mart, which has had seven-consecutive quarters of sales declines in the U.S., erred in cutting back on the number of products it offers and getting away from its theme of everyday low prices, Simon says.. . . more

Olive Garden to revamp restaurants

Olive Garden plans to renovate as many as 400 of its existing restaurants nationwide by 2013 into its Tuscan farmhouse design, a new model introduced in 2000.

The Italian restaurant chain, owned by Orlando, Fla.-based Darden Restaurants Inc.,
said the revamp of the 400 locations will include updated decor inside its restaurants along with new Tuscan-inspired outside updates such as Cypress trees.. . . more

Big-Box Giants Downsize to Drive Productivity with Smaller, Urban Stores

As U.S. chain retailers absorb the lessons of the Great Recession, many big-box chains have started to shrink average store footprints to reflect the growing importance of multi-channel shopping, adapt to urban settings and recognize the need to optimize portfolios.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp., Best Buy Co. Inc. and Gap Inc., among others, all have small concepts in the works or are adapting existing ones.. . . more

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Deal seen closer on Weymouth air base project

Thirteen years after Weymouth, Abington and Rockland joined forces to turn an unused naval base into a community with thousands of homes and businesses, the local official overseeing the communities’ interests says a deal is nearly complete to purchase the land from the Navy, a crucial hurdle that has, at times, threatened to derail the project.

Proponents of the project envision the Cold War-era naval air base, a 1,400-acre swath of bare land with an unused hangar, military housing and deteriorating runway, as a multi-purpose community of more than 2,800 homes, 7,500 residents, 2 million square feet of commercial space, a public school, a golf course, an ice rink, a wellness center, wetlands and a ho.. . . more

A.C. Moore reports $4.8M loss

A.C. Moore reported a net loss of $4.8 million compared with a loss of $500,000 in the same quarter a year earlier.

In the past six years, same-store sales at A.C. Moore -- that is, sales at stores open for a year or more -- have declined 38 percent.
Since then, the retailer has twice replaced its management team, improved inventory management and slashed the payroll. But the company continues to lose money.. . . more

Family Dollar sees higher-than-expected yearly profit

Family Dollar Stores Inc sees higher-than-expected yearly profit after more shoppers flocked to its stores for low-priced holiday items and groceries and spent a little bit more on average.

Family Dollar sells most of its items for $10 or less and caters to consumers with household income of $40,000 and below.. . . more

Jos A Bank quarterly results beat on promotions

Men's apparel and accessories retailer Jos A Bank Clothiers Inc reported higher quarterly results that beat market expectations as eye-catching promotions helped drive sales.

The company, which has been expanding its store base, saw strong demand in November helped by Black Friday sales in the lead up to the key holiday selling season.. . . more

Bar Louie adding 100 new locations

Bar Louie, a bar and restaurant concept first created in Chicago in 1991, is undertaking a major national expansion initiative that includes adding 100 new locations in 20 markets nationwide.

Markets targeted for multi-store expansion include Boston, New York City, North New Jersey, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Maryland, Northern Virginia, Richmond, Miami, West Palm Beach, Fort Myers, Dallas Fort-Worth, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, St. Louis, and Chicago.. . . more

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It's True, Nordstrom Rack Set to Open in May

Nordstrom Rack will open May 19 in Friendship Heights in the former Linens 'n Things location a month earlier than originally planned, it was learned last week.

The store, offering a wide range of Nordstrom’s items at 50 to 60 percent below the original prices in Nordstrom’s stores or on nordstrom.com, will be the sixth Nordstrom Rack facility in the metro area but the first in Washington, D.C.. . . more

Natick's revenue from the mall tops 'em all

The town of Natick’s largest employers may be grounded in cutting-edge technologies and the latest in scientific breakthroughs, but its bread is still largely buttered by the teen-dominated causeways of the local mall.

According to new financial filings, Natick’s largest taxpayer for fiscal 2011 was far and away the Natick Collection, the near 2 million-square-foot retail hub buffeted by a trio of major highways cutting through Boston’s Western suburbs. In fact, the mall represents roughly a fifth of the town’s total commercial tax base. Some 25 percent of Natick’s $79.6 million tax levy stems from commercial payers. . . . more

Martha's Vineyard eatery files for Ch. 11

The parent company of the Oyster Bar Grill on Martha's Vineyard filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code. MAD Corp. LLC listed assets and liabilities both in the range of $1 million to $10 million. . . more

Closings Loom as Sears Holdings Continues to Struggle

While the retail industry’s attention in recent weeks has been focused on Borders' Chapter 11 filing, there is another retail giant with a massive store portfolio that may be raising alarm bells in the near future. For years now, Sears Holdings Corp. has been reporting declining sales at both its Sears and Kmart stores. Most recently, in the firm’s fiscal 2010, same-store sales fell 1.6 percent—dropping 3.6 percent at Sears and rising 0.7 percent Kmart. It was just the latest annual decline for the firm. . . more

See also the article below from our March KeyPoints Newsletter

Market for commercial properties may be thawing

Boston didn’t go nuts adding commercial space during the U. S. real estate boom, so it’s doing better now than other cities, top local builders say.
“We didn’t go up so high, so we didn’t crash so low,” Frank Wuest, head of development powerhouse Forest City Enterprises’ Boston office, told a forum yesterday hosted by commercial real estate group NAIOP Massachusetts.
Wuest and other developers told the conference that the Hub’s strict permitting process and lack of available land prevented the overbuilding that’s led to meltdowns elsewhere. . . more

Wet Seal profit drops in Q4, will add 30 net new stores in 2011

The Wet Seal reported Thursday that net income for the fourth quarter ended Jan. 29 dropped to $5.3 million, compared with $74.2 million in the year-ago period. Last year’s quarter included a non-cash tax benefit of $64.7 million. . . more

L.L. Bean, MBTA wrap up free ride deal

The MBTA’s budget for the coming year relies partly on an anticipated boost in advertising income to stave off a fare increase for riders. But a new ad campaign rolling out next week from L.L. Bean will do that one better, providing not just cash for the T, but free trips for thousands of passengers. . . more

Monday, March 28, 2011

Best Buy doesn't live up to its name

Americans love their gadgets. Smartphones, tablets, 3D gaming handhelds. You name it and we want to buy it -- stagnant economic recovery be damned!

So you'd think that our collective techno-fatuation would be good news for a store that sells all these cool electronics products. Alas, Best Buy is not living up to its name as an investment.. . . more

Sears Goofing Up Again?

Question: What should a retailer do if it has experienced not only total sales declines but also comp sales declines for more than a decade, and finds itself in desperate need of a new merchandising direction?


Answer: Go out and hire a new CEO with absolutely no retail background.

At least, that’s the answer Sears Holdings came up with last month, when it hired Louis J. D’Ambrosio as its new Chief Executive Officer and President.

For more than a decade now, in a series of corporate “goof ups”, Sears has been searching for an ever-so-elusive identity. What reputation Sears has was built largely on its reputation with hardline merchandise, but its lackluster apparel mix – the “softer side of Sears”, as one ill-conceived identity line phrased it – and its dreary, undistinguished store presentation, has been a constant thorn in its side.. . . more

Report Sees Strong Rise in Retailer Growth in 2011

Retailers’ growth plans in the United States are up 40% over last year’s levels, according to ChainLinks' Retail Advisors Spring 2011 National Retail Report.

Some of the most active retailers in 2011, according to ChainLinks, are:
  • 7-Eleven is hoping to open as many as 350 stores in the United States and Canada this year.
  • 99 Cents is planning on adding at least 25 new units.
  • Apple will add at least 50 stores in 2011.. . . more

T.G.I. Friday’s parent to double chain over five years

Carlson Restaurants, parent of T.G.I. Friday’s, announced at a conference in Dallas last week that it plans to double the number of units globally under a program it is calling Ambition 2015.

"With the strength of our Friday's brand, our management team and our franchise partners, we are uniquely positioned to dramatically increase the footprint of our business," said Nick Shepherd, president and CEO of Carlson Restaurants. . . . more

Harry & David Files For Ch. 11 Protection

Fruit basket and gift seller Harry & David filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday, brought down by a weak economy and a proliferation of competitors.

The 75-year-old Medford, Ore., company agreed with a majority of its senior creditors on a reorganization plan that will eliminate "substantial" debt and provide financing to restructure its balance sheet, according to court documents.. . . more

Whole Foods tests bars selling craft beer and local wine in its stores

The upscale grocer, as well-known for its sensory-filled shopping as its often-pricey foods, is opening bars that serve craft beer and local wine in more than a dozen stores nationally in a test before a wider roll-out.

In the past 18 months, small, locally focused bars have opened inside five Whole Foods Markets in California, and two each in Arizona, Illinois and Texas, among others. Earlier this month, it opened one inside its chi-chi flagship store in Austin.. . . more

Borders seeks to pay $8.3 million in bonuses

Borders Group has asked bankruptcy court permission to pay $8.3 million to key employees it says are leaving at a rate of five a week since its Chapter 11 filing last month.
The Ann Arbor bookseller filed for bankruptcy protection on Feb. 16. Since then, it says that 25 “significant corporate employees have voluntarily departed…” from major departments such as finance, merchandising and information technology.. . . more

Aldi to open Medford store this summer

The German-based discount supermarket chain Aldi's has announced plans to open in Medford in Fellsway Plaza in June.

It will be the sixth location in Massachusetts for the chain, which is described as a competitor to Wal-Mart. The other Aldi locations are in Worcester, Hadley, Milford, Raynham and Springfield. . . . more

Charming Shoppes to close 240 stores

Bensalem retailer Charming Shoppes Inc. said Thursday that it would close 240 unprofitable stores in 2011, or nearly 12 percent of its total outlets, and that more than half of those would be Fashion Bug stores.

The locations were not disclosed.

The company said all 30 of its Catherines Plus Sizes stores in outlet locations would be shuttered over a two-year period.. . . more

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lynn moves to take over restaurant site

In what could be a contentious legal battle over a Lynn, MA landmark, the city fired the first shot last week, voting to move toward seizing the former Anthony’s Hawthorne restaurant by eminent domain.
“It’s the last step we’d like to take,’’ said Jim Cowdell, executive director of the city’s Economic Development and Industrial Corporation, a nonprofit that functions as the city’s development bank and is helping to oversee the city’s downtown renewal.. . . more

Best Buy shifting its retailing strategy

Best Buy has a plan to "future-proof" electronic gadgets. What Wall Street wants is a plan to future-proof Best Buy.
Having grown into the world's largest seller of consumer electronics, Best Buy is facing doubts about its ability to triumph over online-only rivals, discount chains and electronics manufacturers. So the company is scrambling to reinvent itself -- rolling out small, mall-based stores; emphasizing growing areas such as smartphones and online sales; and experimenting with new formats.. . . more

Five Below opening Maryland, North Carolina stores

Retailer Five Below will open three stores this week, targeting suburban Baltimore and North Carolina.

A new store is planned in Catonsville, Md., while a Severna Park, Md., location will reopen after renovations and expansion.
 
Philadelphia-based Five Below plans to open 50 stores this year. At present, it has 141 stores in 13 states. Growth is being financed by an investment by a private equity firm, Boston-based Advent International. . . . more

Thursday, March 24, 2011

GameStop reports improved fourth-quarter earnings, profit

Sales for the quarter at GameStop, which included the critical holiday period, rose 4.8 percent to $3.69 billion, up from $3.52 billion in the same period a year ago.Sales at stores open at least a year increased 2.6 percent, inline with the company's previous estimate.

GameStop also said that while it expects to open about 200 new stores in 2011, it expects to also close the same number of stores. . . . more

Report: Personalization of store experience is key to retail growth

Personalization of the in-store customer experience will be a key objective for retailers over the next two years, according to two new Aberdeen Group reports sponsored by HP.


According to the 100 senior retail executives surveyed from industries such as apparel, grocery and department stores, 76% do not possess the technology tools or the business processes for executing web, catalog or special orders from stores. This challenge is being fueled by rising consumer expectations of rich, multimedia in-store shopping experiences. . . more

Top 10 retail markets for 2011

The nation’s capital tops a list of the healthiest retail markets for 2011. The ranking, “ChainLinks/Terranomics Retail Power Rankings for 2011,” is based on the general overall health of a marketplace and includes such factors as overall economic indicators, income growth, ongoing construction, rental rate trends, and the amount of retail demand in the market.

“The Washington, D.C., market topped our Power Rankings not only because of the region’s low unemployment and shopping center vacancy rates, but because of continued high levels of retailer demand,” said Garrick Brown, research director, ChainLinks Retail Advisors, Burlingame, Calif., a leading retail real estate advisory services organization. Here are the 10 markets the report deems the strongest for 2011:

1. Washington, D.C.

2. San Francisco

3. New York City

4. Boston. . . more

UFood will open 5 to 8 new locations

The CEO of Newton, Mass.-based healthy fast food company UFood Restaurant Group, Inc.says the company will open between five and eight new locations in the coming year.The company filed a brief document with U.S. regulators saying that after an interview with the Wall Street Journal on March 21, CEO George Naddaff had reached this conclusion . . . more

Charles River Apparel opens its first clothing store in Sharon

After 28 years of selling apparel through distributors and retail outlets, Charles River Apparel is gearing up to offer many of its popular clothing items directly to consumers. The company began construction last week on a retail store at its corporate office and warehouse on Route 1 in Sharon, near the intersection with Interstate 95. Company CEO Barry Lipsett said he hopes to have the store open by Memorial Day. . . more

Dunkin' Donuts sees same-store sales boost

Comparable store sales for Dunkin' Donuts locations in the United States were up 1.6 percent in fiscal 2010 compared to fiscal 2009, parent company Dunkin' Brands reported Wednesday.

Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin' Brands said worldwide sales for 2010 totaled $7.66 billion in 2010, up from $7.18 billion in 2009 — an increase of 6.7 percent.. . . more

Michaels Stores, Inc. Reports Fourth Quarter and Fiscal 2010 Results

Michaels Stores, Inc. today reported unaudited financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended January 29, 2011. Total sales for the quarter were $1.331 billion, a 2.4% increase from fiscal 2009 fourth quarter sales of $1.300 billion.

John Menzer, Chief Executive Officer, said, "We are pleased to announce fiscal 2010 sales surpassed $4 billion, and I would like to congratulate every associate across the organization on this noteworthy accomplishment. Fourth quarter net sales increased 2.4% driven by $22 million of incremental sales from non-comparable new stores and increased same-store sales of 70 basis points, led by our custom framing, bakeware and wall frame categories." . . . more

Wal-Mart sets up East Coast office

 Wal-Mart Stores Inc said it would manage nearly 1,600 stores in 20 eastern U.S. states from Atlanta, putting a closer focus on opportunities to grow its business in states such as New York.

The states in the new eastern business unit are: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.. . . more

Best Buy sales drop in fourth quarter

Best Buy Co. Inc. reported lower sales but higher earnings in the fourth quarter, and said that better mobile business was improving margins.

The company posted sales of $16.2 billion, down from $16.5 billion in the year-ago period. Earnings were $798 million compared with $779 million. Same-store sales, a key retail metric, were down 4 percent.. . . more

Talbots reports 4Q loss, plans store closings

Clothing retailer Talbots Inc. reported a fourth-quarter loss this morning on a drop in revenue and said it expects to close as many as 100 stores over the next two years.

The retailer said it expects to renovate about 70 stores in fiscal 2011. In addition, it said it expects to close about 90 to 100 stores and consolidate or downsize about 15 to 20 stores over two years. It had 568 stores in 46 states and Canada at the end of January. . . . more

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Adjusted U.S. figures paint a rosier jobs picture

Job growth may be stronger than it appears.

Another healthy drop in unemployment claims reported last week is the latest clue that job gains might be more robust than the Labor Department's monthly reports show.. . . more

Barnes & Noble Said to Be Likely to End Search Without Buyer

Barnes & Noble Inc., the largest U.S. bookstore chain, is likely to end its months-long search for a buyer without a sale of the company, said five people with knowledge of the bidding process.

Private-equity firms and strategic bidders have backed away from the auction, said the people, who asked not to be identified because negotiations aren’t public. Interest from at least seven potential buyers waned after the first round of bidding, the people said. . . . more

16 Handles embarks upon East Coast expansion

Manhattan-based frozen yogurt concept 16 Handles, which began franchising in August 2010, is set to open five new East Coast stores this spring. Expansion plans also call for up to eight locations in New York City within the next two years.

A Fairfield, Conn., location will open this summer, which will feature a new store design currently featured at 16 Handles’ Upper East Side NYC and Jericho locations . . . more

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cardi’s opens mattress store in Plymouth

Finding a way to grow in an atmosphere of cautious consumer spending, Cardi’s Furniture recently opened a mattress store at a former Blockbuster Video storefront in Plymouth.


The 5,000-square-foot store, on Samoset Street, is Cardi’s 13th standalone mattress store, spokesman Benjamin DeCastro said. . . more

Retailer Express reports better-than-expected 4th-quarter profit

Unlike shoppers, retailers hate sales. Columbus-based fashion retailer Express didn't hold many sales in its fourth quarter and, partly as a result, reported better-than-expected net income in the period. Express said today that it earned $48.4 million, or 55 cents per share, in the quarter that ended Jan. 29. Earnings were $46 million, or 60 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts had predicted earnings of 49 cents per share in the quarter. Sales at comparable stores, a key indicator of retailer strength, increased 12 percent in the quarter. . . more

VF Corp. to open 400 U.S. stores over next five years

VF Corp. plans to open 400 U.S. stores across its various brands during the next years. The company, whose stable of banners include Vans and The North Face, discussed its plans at an investor conference held recently in New York City. . . more

Pinkberry goes to Harvard

The popular Pinkberry frozen yogurt chain has set the date to open its Harvard Square location.

The shop at 1380 Massachusetts Ave, set to open April 8, will be Pinkberry's third Massachusetts location. The others are in Hingham and on Newbury Street in Boston.. . . more

Dollar General’s Q4 profit more than doubles

Dollar General Corp. said Tuesday that its fiscal fourth-quarter profit more than doubled, after the discount retailer cut advertising and compensation costs and saw more shoppers, who spent more on items ranging from apparel to consumable products.

Dollar General said its quarterly profit rose to $222.5 million from $87.2 million in the year-ago period. Sales in the quarter ended Jan. 28 rose 9.4% to $3.49 billion. . . . more

Rapid growth of Aaron's stores brings employment to U.S. and Canada

Aaron’s, Inc.announced today from its 2011 Aaron’s National Managers Meeting in Orlando that the Company plans to create nearly 1,000 retail jobs in its stores across the U.S. and Canada this year.

The Company has already added 50 employees this year and is on target to hire 500 more based on current store opening plans. Robin Loudermilk, Aaron’s CEO and President, also estimates that an additional 75 franchised stores will open and subsequently bring approximately 400 new jobs.. . . more

BJ’s Shareholder Leonard Green to Study Possible Takeover

BJ's Wholesale Club Inc. shareholderLeonard Green & Partners said it’s examining an offer for the U.S. membership warehouse chain, reviving its overtures after BJ’s began looking for suitors.

The two parties reached a confidentiality agreement yesterday as part of a possible transaction, according to a U.S. regulatory filing today. Leonard Green agreed to provisions restricting it from purchasing additional BJ stock for a year. . . . more

Monday, March 21, 2011

Men's Wearhouse to Open 20 to 30 stores in 2011

Houston-based The Men's Wearhouse Inc. recently announced plans to remodel more than 100 stores in 2011. By the end of 2011, nearly one-third of the company's fleet of 590 traditional Men's Wearhouse stores will be updated. "We're projecting 170 stores will be done by the end of the year," said Doug Ewert, president of Men's Wearhouse. Eventually, the entire chain will be remodeled.

The company also is planning to open between 20 and 30 stores in 2011. . . . more

Borders to Shutter 28 More Stores

Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Borders Group Inc. is set to close another 28 of its superstores on top of the 200 locations it is already shutting down as part of its reorganization under bankruptcy protection, according to The Chicago Tribune.

The shuttered locations will close by the end of April 2011, and include stores in Hollywood, Calif., and Stamford, Conn. . . . more

La Madeleine owner purchases Bruegger's

Rennes, France-based Le Duff group, owner and operator of 820 outlets including the Del Arte and Brioche Doree chains, has purchased the Burlington, Vt.-based Bruegger's bagel chain from Sun Capital Partners Inc.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although Jim Greco is expected to remain as Bruegger's CEO.. . . more

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ground broken for more retail space on Providence Highway

Ground was broken this month for a 5,000-square-foot addition of retail space at 780 Providence Highway in Dedham, according to a Norwood-based commercial real estate brokerage firm.

The property is scheduled to be completed by this summer. Existing tenants in the two-building property include Bed, Bath & Beyond; Verizon Wireless; The Vitamin Shoppe; and Massage Envy. . . . more

Friday, March 18, 2011

An Up and Coming Spa Chain Diversifies its Real Estate Strategy

These days, when a retailer tweaks its real estate strategy, the decision likely is the result of endless hours spent on site selection studies and grueling strategy meetings of its executive board.

Sometimes, however, it’s possible to find a successful strategy by listening to the people who run the operations on the ground.. . . more

Renovations in store for Pheasant Lane Mall

Work on a $10 million, top-to-bottom renovation of the Pheasant Lane Mall will begin early next month, officials said at a news conference Thursday.

The project, which will take a year to complete, includes the addition of a new Dick’s Sporting Goods store and two new restaurants – Burton’s Grill and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers – to the 1 million-square-foot mall, which opened in 1986. . . more

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Receipts going paperless

“Paper or plastic?” is giving way to another checkout query, “paper or paperless?” More stores are offering the option of “paperless receipts” for environmentally conscious consumers who don’t mind giving out their e-mail addresses.

“It’s all about finding ways to be more environmentally friendly and making it more convenient for shoppers,” said Liz Burkhhart, a Whole Foods spokeswoman. . . more

Auto Service Provider Uses the Downturn to Improve its Image

While recent years have been a challenging time for many retailers, others have turned it into a window of opportunity. Among the latter crowd is Express Oil Change, a Birmingham, Ala.-based auto service provider.. . . more

Roy Rogers mounts comeback, returns to franchising

In 1968, the Marriott Corp. launched its Roy Rogers hamburger, roast beef and fried chicken concept. Twenty-two years later, it was one of the nation’s largest quick-service players with 650 stores. . . more

Hibbett Sports 4Q earnings climb on higher sales

Hibbett Sports Inc. said Friday that its fiscal fourth-quarter net income climbed 6 percent on higher sales as a key revenue metric improved. The sporting goods retailer also predicts its fiscal 2012 earnings will be in line with Wall Street's view. Hibbett Sports reported net income of $12.5 million, or 44 cents per share, for the period ended Jan. 29. That's up from $11.8 million, or 40 cents per share, a year earlier. . . more

Groton plaza offers free rent for year

On the brochure, Shaw's Plaza, at the junction of routes 119 and 225, sounds like an ideal place for businesses to locate. About 16,400 cars pass the busy "Four Corners" intersection each day. More than 12,000 residents, with household incomes averaging $137,533, live within three miles of the junction, according to the brochure. . . more

Simon Property, ownership team refinance Cape Cod Mall

Simon Property Group and a consortium of investors have refinanced The Cape Cod Mall with a new $99.4 million loan, according to public filings and a pre-sale report on a new $1.4 billion portfolio of commercial mortgage-backed securities. . . more

Morton’s Steakhouse Explores Sale

Morton’s Restaurant Group said on Wednesday that it was exploring strategic options, including a possible sale of the company.

Morton’s said it was pursuing alternatives with the support of its two largest shareholders, the private equity firms Castle Harlan and Laurel Crown Partners.. . . more

Healthy Growth for Ecommerce as Retail Continues Shift to Web

. . . more
According to the US Department of Commerce, US retail ecommerce sales reached $165.4 billion last year, for 14.8% growth over 2009.

This represented a strong comeback for online retail after the recession, and healthy growth will continue this year. eMarketer expects online shopping dollars, excluding travel, digital downloads and event tickets, to exceed $188 billion in 2011. Double-digit sales growth will taper off through 2015 as ecommerce continues to mature.

The Highest Paying Retail Sales Jobs

Retailers that pay the most for top talent get the best in employee in-store performance, a new report finds.

That’s per Glassdoor.com, a site that gives an inside look at companies by providing employee salary and workplace reviews. The three-year-old site compiled a custom report for Forbes that ranked the retail companies that pay their sales associates the most in hourly wages.. . . more

Higher prices for food are about to get worse

Americans are noticing higher prices at the grocery store, and it's about to get worse.

Food prices at the wholesale level rose last month by the most in 36 years. Cold weather accounted for most of it, forcing stores and restaurants to pay more for green peppers, lettuce and other vegetables, but meat and dairy prices surged, too.. . . more

Timberland steps back into the city

More than a dozen years after closing its Boston store, Timberland is back in business on Newbury Street as of today, with a plan to operate differently the second time around.

The new location — formerly home to a Gap store — is a smaller, sleeker site with a narrower selection of Timberland products. The 2,500-square-foot space features the New Hampshire company’s signature yellow boots, along with an assortment of apparel for men, women, and children and elite footwear from the Abington Collection and Timberland Boot Company that can cost up to $325.. . . more