Thursday, June 30, 2011

Area retail real estate market showing improvement

The retail real estate market in Eastern Massachusetts has taken “a turn on the road to recovery” after bottoming out in early 2010, according to a new report from KeyPoint Partners, a Burlington-based firm that offers commercial real estate services.

At the end of April, the vacancy rate for real estate occupied by stores was 9 percent in the 189 Massachusetts communities that KeyPoint examined. The study looked at retail real estate activity for a 14-month period. At the start of that period --- March 2010 -- the vacancy rate was 9.7 percent.. . . more

Discounters step in to big-box retail spaces

The hulking shells of former big-box stores, victims of the economic downturn and the rise in online retailing, have quietly started filling up with commerce again.

The spaces formerly occupied by retail heavyweights including Circuit City, Linens ‘n Things and Borders are now welcoming sellers of discounted designer jeans, used video games and surplus merchandise. Many of the new stores moving in trumpet terms such as “off-price,” “discount” and “value” in their slogans.. . . more

B&N offers 30 free ebooks if you upgrade your ereader to a Nook

Barnes & Noble, Inc., the world’s largest bookseller, is inviting customers to experience what the critics and millions of customers are raving about: the company’s award-winning, bestselling line of NOOK reading devices. Beginning July 1, bring any eReader into a Barnes & Noble bookstore to compare and upgrade to a NOOK device and receive an instant NOOK Book collection — 30 free digital titles valued at $315. . . . more

Target CEO Talks Prices, Products and Plans

Target is touting a growth plan that's, well, right on target. Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel says customers can look forward to more fresh food and new higher-end clothing and houseware designers, but he's cutting inventories to reduce the need for post-holiday markdowns. He says despite the economy, Target is forging ahead full speed. . . . more

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Elephant & Castle pubs owner files for Ch. 11 bankruptcy

The operator of British-style Elephant & Castle pubs, including the one in downtown’s Financial District, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after defaulting on a loan to a unit of General Electric Co.

Elephant and Castle Group Inc., whose headquarters is in Boston, said it continues to operate its pub restaurants in the United States and Canada. . . . more

Best Buy Pares Space As Internet Rattles Big-Box Stores

When Circuit City began liquidating $1.3 billion in merchandise in early 2009, market observers declared that Best Buy’s long-term growth prospects never looked better.

Two years later, the Minneapolis-based retailer is aiming to reduce its roughly 42 million sq. ft. big-box footprint in the U.S. by 10% over the next three to five years. Stretched consumers and competition from discounters and Internet rivals have contributed to weak sales. . . . more

Boston region has lowest Mass. unemployment

The Boston-Cambridge area posted the lowest civilian unemployment rate in May among the seven regions recognized by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statitistcs, data released Wednesday indicated. The highest unemployment was in the region centered around New Bedford.

According to a news release from the agency, statewide civilian unemployment was 7.4 percent in May, based on preliminary data, compared to 8.3 percent in May 2010.. . . more

Blackstone acquires U.S. mall owner Centro Properties Group for $9 billion

BRE Retail Holdings, an affiliate of Blackstone Real Estate Partners VI L.P. announced Tuesday that it has acquired the U.S. assets and platform of Centro Properties Group and its managed funds for approximately $9 billion.

The sale includes 585 community and neighborhood shopping centers and related retail assets aggregating 92.1 million sq. ft. in 39 states.. . . more

Outlet Growth, International Expansion Put Gap Inc. on the Right Track

After a few tough years, Gap Inc. may have found the right turnaround strategy.

Gap’s plan, as was laid out by CEO Glenn Murphy during the firm’s first quarter earnings call in May, is to concentrate on its value-based businesses (including its outlet and Old Navy divisions), grow its online sales and continue to expand internationally. . . . more

Stop & Shop Challenges Approval Of Walmart Expansion In Groton

Stop & Shop Supermarket has filed an appeal in New London Superior Court seeking to overturn the decision of the Groton Planning Commission to grant Walmart permission to expand its store on Gold Star Highway.

The grocery store chain filed the appeal June 16 against the Groton Town Planning Commission and Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust, LP, according to court documents. The appeal says the commission overstepped its bounds when it approved the site plan allowing Walmart to expand the store by almost 40,000 square feet.. . . more

Retailers see economy staying tough for shoppers

High gasoline and food prices and a slow recovery in jobs will continue to weigh on consumers this year, except for those that buy $98 yoga pants and $400 baseball bats, retailers and manufacturers said this week.

The data came as no surprise to executives who spoke this week at the Reuters Consumer and Retail Summit, most of whom said their customer is still under pressure two years after the U.S. recession officially ended.. . . more

Private equity firms to take over BJ's Wholesale

BJ's Wholesale Club is being acquired by two private equity investors for roughly $2.8 billion in a widely expected deal.

The two private equity firms disclosed the bid earlier this month, though the value was undisclosed at the time. BJ's said in February it was exploring a sale. Analysts say the takeover could help propel its growth.. . . more

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Consumers' confidence down in June on job worries

Following a string of bad economic news, consumer confidence plunged to a seven-month low in June on continuing worries about high unemployment and stagnating wages, according to a report released Tuesday by a private research group. The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index slipped to 58.5 in June. That's down from a revised 61.7 in May, which marked an almost six-point drop.

"Given the combination of uneasiness about the economic outlook and future earnings, consumers are likely to continue weighing their spending decisions quite carefully," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, in a statement.. . . more

Michigan Attempts to Lure Sears with Incentives

Count Michigan among the many states looking to poach Illinois businesses. 

The Wolverine State is working to woo Sears Holding Corporation to move its headquarters up north incentives worth about $50 million, including tax breaks, housing incentives and relocation grants.. . . more

Consumers return to restaurants for dinner daypart

Consumers are slowly returning to restaurants for dinner after more than three years of declining guest visits for an evening meal, according to new findings from market research firm The NPD Group.

Since the recession’s beginning in 2007, dinner traffic had been falling, especially at casual-dining restaurants. But NPD said Monday that total visits have turned positive in the past three quarters.. . . more

Buybuy Baby coming to Braintree

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. has picked a spot that was used by vanquished rival Linens ’N Things to be the home for its first Buybuy Baby store in Massachusetts.

The 33,000-square-foot property on Granite Street in Braintree has sat vacant since the demise of Linens ’N Things’ stores in 2008. A Maryland businessman had unsuccessfully tried to get town approval for a wine superstore on the site.. . . more

Monday, June 27, 2011

Consumer Spending in U.S. Stagnated in May

Consumer spending unexpectedly stagnated in May as employment prospects dimmed and rising inflation caused Americans to cut back.

Purchases were little changed, the weakest outcome since June 2010, after a revised 0.3 percent gain the prior month that was smaller than previously estimated, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a 0.1 percent gain. Prices excluding food and energy rose more than forecast. . . . more

Consumer Divide Grows Between Haves and Have-nots

Growing Economic Disparity Will Play Role in Deciding Marketing's Winners and Losers as Brands Raise Prices

The rich -- and marketers who cater to them -- just keep getting richer as everyone else struggles through a so-called recovery. That fact of economics could reshape marketing strategies this year, and for years to come.

Last year, the only growth in spending came from people making $100,000 or more annually, said David Calhoun, CEO of Nielsen Co., speaking at the Advertising Research Foundation's annual Re:Think conference in March. If anything, the disconnect between the haves and the have-lesses has only kept widening since. . . . more

Deb Shops to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Philadelphia-based Deb Shops announced today that it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and sell the women's clothing retailer to its lenders.

The company said its 300-plus stores  won't be affected by the filing.

Deb announced its plans this morning, after reaching an agreement with its lenders to strengthen its "financial health.". . . more

Friday, June 24, 2011

For The Aging Boomer, Smaller Can Sometimes Be Better

Trend watchers have noted that after decades in which stores kept growing larger in size and selection of product offerings, smaller footprints are suddenly becoming more popular. These appeal to the mature market by signaling "fresh" and "trendy" without meaning "pricey," and they provide a more personal shopping experience -- without all the walking. . . . more

Let's face it. In an age of "bigger is better," the aging population is having issues navigating stores with large footprints and being overwhelmed by a multitude of SKUs.

Orchard Supply Hardware to be spun off by Sears

OSH -- the San Jose-born and bred Orchard Supply Hardware chain that has used its customer-service charms to carve out a space in the bare-knuckled world of retail hardware -- is about to add another S.

OSH plans to be traded as OSHS on the Nasdaq once its parent company, Sears Holdings Corp., spins it off as an independent company, according to an announcement Thursday. The initial public offering is expected to raise up to $82 million, much of which could be plowed back into the chain as it continues to compete with national big-box retailers. Sears did not say when the IPO would take place.. . . more

BJ's is seeking more

Wants sweeter deal

BJ's Wholesale Club wants a sweetened offer of $55 a share -- or nearly $3 billion -- from a pair of buyout firms that are looking to take it private, sources told The Post.

As reported by The Post last week, the warehouse retailer has received a joint bid of $50 a share from Leonard Green & Partners and CVC Capital Partners-- a price that surprised some Wall Street analysts who were looking for a bid closer to what BJ's has now demanded. . . . more

Rite Aid’s new store types include value stores, wellness and grocery

Rite Aid Corp., the third-largest U.S. drugstore chain, is trying out several new store formats as it works to reinvigorate its sales. The company plans to remodel a total of 500 stores by the end of its fiscal year. It will also close 50 more locations, which would give it a total of about 4,650 stores.

— Value: At the end of the fiscal first quarter, Rite Aid had 51 value stores, which offer less expensive merchandise and a smaller variety of items.. . . more

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Staples unveils plans for smaller stores

Staples has revealed plans to shrink its overall store footprint and grow its break rooms as a means to lower costs and increase sales productivity.

In a presentation to analysts at a Jefferies & Co. conference in New York City on Wednesday, Staples U.S. president Demos Pareros said new stores will be about 15,500 sq. ft. to 16,000 sq. ft., down from the current prototype of 18,000 sq. ft. and the 2000 prototype of 24,000 sq. ft. . . . more

Wrentham eyes business-friendly zoning

Officials in Wrentham are exploring ways to address zoning issues and the town’s permitting process to attract more business development to the town.

The town’s zoning proposal was first reported Wednesday by the Sun Chronicle of Attleboro and comes roughly six months after Wrentham's Town Meeting approved a plan to rezone an undeveloped 23-acre parcel across the street from the Wrentham Village Outlets, the town’s primary commercial district.. . . more

Best Buy to downsize brick-and-mortar footprint

Amid weak sales and growing online competition, Best Buy plans to sublease space at its stores to smaller retailers, joining the ranks of big-box giants that are shrinking store sizes.

When it comes to retailing, big is not so beautiful anymore.

Weak sales, online competition and changing consumer habits have big-box chains looking to downsize. Best Buy Co. is the latest merchant shedding space, in an initiative that stands out in both size and scope.. . . more

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Planning Board votes down Dave & Buster's proposal

After months of back-and-forth discussion, Thursday night provided a scene which saw the Planning Board vote 6-1, Jayne Hyde cast the dissenting vote, to deny Dave & Buster's application for permits needed to locate at 90 Middlesex Turnpike.

The board members did partake in discussions explaining why they ultimately opposed the applicant's proposal of a 40,000-square-feet building with underground and above-ground parking.. . . more

Plan to redevelop the Government Center Garage is revived

A developer is proposing to redevelop the 11-story Government Center Garage into a massive office, hotel, retail, and residential complex that would be the largest project in Downtown Boston to proceed in decades.

HYM Investment Group said it wants to move forward with a phased redevelopment plan for about 2.4 million square feet of space on a roughly 4-acre site near Congress Street and the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.. . . more

Office Depot and OfficeMax May Need to Merge

Office Depot and Office Max may need to merge after heightened competition for office-supply sales and a 26-year high in the U.S. unemployment rate helped wipe out almost $13 billion of shareholder value.

“Office Depot needs OfficeMax,” said Anthony Chukumba, an analyst with BB&T in New York. “They need to combine so they can scale up to better compete with Staples. For them to bring in a guy who’s been on the board forever and who has been CEO twice before on an interim basis, that just smacked of them saying, ‘We’re going to try to sell the company.’” . . . more

200 Gaps to be closed

In its earnings reports and conference call, Gap Inc. said it would shutter as many as 200 stores over the next two years.

In its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the quarter ended April 30, officials said they were expecting to close 125 stores across the country during fiscal 2011. They also said they're looking to open 125 new company-operated stores.. . . more

Whole Foods co-CEO sets goal of 1,000 U.S. stores

Whole Foods Market Inc expects to one day have 1,000 stores in the United States, up from around 300 currently, co-Chief Executive Walter Robb said on Tuesday.

The upheaval in the commercial property market has created opportunities for companies looking to expand, and Whole Foods has identified locations where it "can put some bets down and take advantage of that," Robb said. . . .more

Au Bon Pain to Remodel all of its Cafés

Fast-casual bakery café operator Au bon Pain has announced plans to remodel all 318 of its locations. Au Bon Pain also announced the veteran executive chef Stefano Cordova has joined the company to lead its culinary efforts.

The café remodels include a new sandwich suite and fresh tossed salad station. Au Bon Pain has also redesigned its layouts to speed service, particularly at the sandwich bar, where the restaurant chain is testing an ordering process that utilizes tablet computers. . . . more

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sears looking for 1M square feet, maybe in Ohio

Sears Holdings Corp. is circulating a request for proposals for more than 1 million square feet as it explores moving its corporate headquarters out of Chicago, according to sources familiar with the company’s search.

The Washington Business Journal reports that Sears is eyeing a move to Ohio, North or South Carolina, New Jersey, Texas, Georgia or the Washington, D.C., area as tax breaks in Illinois expire. A company spokeswoman cautioned that the process is in its early stages and Sears has made no decisions, the paper reported.. . . more

Barnes & Noble results hurt by Borders bankruptcy

Barnes & Noble Inc reported a deeper-than-expected quarterly loss on Tuesday as the largest U.S. bookstore chain came under pressure from the going-out-of-business sales of bankrupt rival Borders Group Inc, and its shares fell about 2 percent.

Barnes & Noble said sales at its namesake superstores open at least 15 months fell 2.9 percent during the quarter, hurt by the liquidation of 200 bookstores by Borders. ...more

Online groceries to be $25 billion business by 2014

Online grocery shopping had a rough start in the 1990s...but Nielsen forecasts it'll be a $25 billion business by 2014.

Online grocery shopping might have gotten off on the wrong foot at the tail end of the original 1990s dot-com boom, with firms like HomeGrocer and Webvan launching to much fanfare then quickly disappearing from the scene. However, since then traditional grocery chains like Safeway have been experimenting with online ordering and delivery, Amazon.com has been operating Amazon Fresh as a test service in Seattle, and mega-retailer Walmart has been offering an online grocery service in San Jose, and firms like PeaPod and FreshDirect are re-invigorating the industry.. . . more

Talbots closes store at Mall at Chestnut Hill

The Talbots store at the Mall at Chestnut Hill closed on June 11, a casualty of the Hingham-based clothier’s plans to close up to 110 stores over the next two years.

“As part of our previously announced plans to reduce Talbots store base and square footage, we closed our Chestnut Hill, MA store at the beginning of June,” said a Talbots spokeswoman in a statement.. . . more

Southern New Hampshire Report Preview

The KeyPoint Report on retail real estate in Southern New Hampshire will be available soon at KeyPointPartners.com. Here are just a few highlights from this year’s report:


Market Overview
At the end of the study period, the Southern New Hampshire retail market consisted of 2,100 retail properties totaling 28,863,400 square feet, an increase of 1.3% over the previous year’s total of 28,497,400 square feet.

Vacancy
The vacancy rate in the region dropped dramatically over the study period to 9.5%, down from 11.4% last year, a decrease in vacancy of 16.4%.

City and Town Rankings
Unsurprisingly, Nashua, Manchester, and Salem ranked highest in total retail square footage this year. Nashua had 6,264,100, Manchester totaled 5,239,000, and Salem had 3,993,400. Bedford, Seabrook, and Plaistow followed, with Londonderry, Merrimack, Derry, and Hudson rounding out the top ten. . . more

Monday, June 20, 2011

Can Apple Anchor a Shopping Mall? Don't Count on It

Even during the depths of the recession, when it seemed Americans weren't buying anything and most malls were deserted, if you went to the Apple store, you were sure to find a crowd.

Hot new products kept the customers coming through the door even as shoppers were reticent to spend elsewhere. And that hasn't stopped, even between product launches. . . . more

Borders says sale likely by end of July

Borders Group Inc. hopes to name a bidder by July 1 and sell itself by the end of that month, according to bankruptcy court filings. Forty stores previously targeted for closing are also getting a temporary reprieve. 

The bookseller, which filed for bankruptcy protection in February, said in papers filed Friday it plans to name a "stalking horse" bidder by July 1. A "stalking horse" is an initial bidder for a company in a bankruptcy auction. A higher bidder may materialize.. . . more

Friday, June 17, 2011

Market Basket coming to West Bridgewater

Market Basket plans a new store on Route 106, news that comes soon after Brockton announced the popular discount grocer is opening a store in that city, too.

Planning Board Chairman Hugh Hurley said this week that plans have been approved to build the West Bridgewater supermarket.. . . more

Sears lays off appliance reps at Kmart stores

Sears Holdings Corp., which is trying to revitalize its hallmark appliance business, on Monday let go a700 employees who sold the items at 225 of its Kmart stores.

The move leaves the stores' appliance departments without employees who focus exclusively on the big-ticket merchandise, which often requires a knowledgeable salesperson to close the sale. . . . more

Faster Inflation Causes ‘Trade Down’ Boost for McDonald’s, Wal-Mart

McDonald's and Wal-Mart are getting a boost from value-minded consumers as rising commodity costs constrain discretionary income and confidence in the economy wanes.

Energy and food costs have risen 19 percent and 4 percent since December, according to the Labor Department. That caused real disposable income, or the money left over after taxes and adjusted for inflation, to remain unchanged. The confluence of higher prices and unemployment at 9.1 percent has become especially acute for households making less than $75,000 a year, according to an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. in Baltimore. . . . more

Mattress Firm says it aims to grow to 2,500 stores

Would nearly quadruple current store count

Fast-growing Mattress Firm, which plans an initial public offering of stock, is planning to nearly quadruple its store count over the next several years to 2,500, officials said in documents filed in connection with the IPO.

Mattress Firm says its goal is to become "the premier national mattress specialty retailer.". . . more

Mrs. Greenʼs Buys Md., DC Super Fresh Stores

Mrs. Greenʼs Natural Market has officially acquired seven Super Fresh grocery locations in Maryland and one Super Fresh location in Washington from the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. Following all necessary approvals, Scarsdale, N.Y.-based Mrs. Green’s will renovate the locations and expand product and service offerings to include better-for-you prepared meals and a larger assortment of natural, local and organic foods.

“This investment is part of a strategy to grow our concept in under-served regions,” said Matt Williams, CEO of Mrs. Green’s parent company, Toronto-based Natural Market Restaurants Corp. “We have been exploring several options in Maryland and Washington, D.C., and this acquisition is a tremendous first step in providing consumers with healthy, natural and affordable food choices.”. . . more

Leonard Green, CVC to submit bid for BJ's Wholesale

Private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners said it has teamed up with CVC Capital Partners to submit a proposal to buy BJ's Wholesale Club Inc, the third-largest U.S. wholesale club retailer.

Leonard Green and its affiliates, which also reported a 9.3 percent stake in the retailer in a regulatory filing, however, did not disclose the financial terms of the proposal.. . . more

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Premier movie experience eyed for Borders locale

An upscale movie theater chain that offers stadium seating, reclining leather chairs with pillows and blankets, restaurant service with a full bar and free valet parking is eyeing the soon-to-be-vacated Borders bookstore location in Downtown Crossing.

“It’s an exciting new movie concept, and they want to come here,” said Peter Meade, director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, who met with officials from Florida-based iPic Theaters last month at an annual retail convention in Las Vegas. “The idea has been successful in a couple of other cities, and we think it would work in Downtown Crossing.”. . . more

Apple’s top 10 closely-guarded retail secrets

Some of the most astonishing details about tech giant, Apple, detailing its intensive work regulations and client-interaction training has come to light in a recent report.

The new report by the Wall Street Journal unfolds the inside details of functioning within the association - some of the association's closely guarded secrets.Some of these surprising details include: . . . more

Plan for Five Guys in Fairfield, CT fried by parking issue

Forget about getting an order of fries with your burger at the Kings Crossing shopping center anytime soon.

The Town Plan and Zoning Commission on Tuesday denied a zoning compliance application for a Five Guys outlet -- noted for its burger-and-fries-centric menu -- at the shopping complex at the corner of Kings Highway East and Grasmere Avenue. The development is home to a recently opened Whole Foods Market, is housed in a stand-alone building. . . more

Wal-Mart adopts smaller focus

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s biggest retailer, plans to accelerate the opening of its midsized Wal-Mart Market stores, said U.S. stores chief Bill Simon.

Wal-Mart will open 90 to 100 of the stores in the year ending in January and have 300 by fiscal 2013, Simon said. The stores, formerly known as Neighborhood Markets, are roughly the size of typical supermarkets at about 42,000 square feet.. . . more

The rebirth of shopping malls

Vacancy rates at U.S. malls are at their highest level in years. So why are investors pouring money into them?

shopping mallFor many suburbanites across America, the local mall has been popularly viewed as a landmark of sorts, if not the ultimate teenage hangout. In a way, that reputation – more as a place to meet up than a place to shop – has been part of their demise in recent years, as anchor stores struggle to compete with the rise of standalone big-box retail chains.

The latest economic recession only made things worse. Gravely weak retail sales hit mall anchors, such as Sears and Mervyn's, particularly hard – helping drive up mall vacancies, while sending rents paid by tenants spiraling down.. . . more

Copley Place looks skyward

Mall giant Simon Property Group resurrected plans for a 47-story tower at Copley Place yesterday, a $500 million retail and luxury condo project that would be Boston’s eighth-tallest building.

The tower, pitched in March 2008 but stalled by the Great Recession, once sparked worries that the 569-foot structure would funnel strong winds and cast long shadows across Back Bay landmarks.. . . more

Borders Group Says It May Have Lender Agreement to Avoid Store Closings

Borders Group Inc., the bankrupt bookstore chain, said it may have a deal with lenders and creditors to avoid closing as many as 51 stores, and it canceled an auction scheduled for today, according to a bankruptcy court filing.

Borders has held extensive negotiations with its lenders and the committee of unsecured creditors about an amendment to its financing that would avoid closing the stores, according to filings yesterday and June 8. . . . more

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Talk turns to future of Weaver's Cove site

A day after Hess LNG announced it was abandoning its Weaver's Cove terminal plans, people were still reminiscing Tuesday about the nearly decade-long fight to keep LNG away from the SouthCoast. But as talk about the past slowed down, speculation on the future of the site began to increase.

Mayor Will Flanagan said he will form a think tank to cultivate ideas for development at the nearly 70-acre site on Fall River's waterfront. He asked that anyone interested in participating send him a letter of interest by June 30.. . . more

Stop & Shop drops out of Bulfinch Triangle project

Stop & Shop has backed out of the $150 million One Canal project in Bulfinch Triangle, developer Trinity Financial said yesterday.

Trinity Financial Inc., which took over the $150 million project last summer, said it is now seeking a different supermarket to anchor the mix of retail and apartments.. . . more

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

J.C. Penney names Apple retail exec as new CEO

J.C. Penney Co. is looking to bite into the magic of Apple.

The mid-brow department store chain has named Ron Johnson, who pioneered Apple Inc.'s retail stores, its next CEO. He will succeed Myron Ullman III in November, the retailer said Tuesday.. . . more

The nation's favorite low-cost grocery store is...

A retailer that may not be a household name but is one of the fastest-growing chains in the country, with smaller stores, a more limited selection, and much cheaper prices compared to the average mega-grocer. The chain is called Aldi, and it’s owned by the same company that runs Trader Joes.

When asked to rank the top 10 grocers offering low prices, consumers ranked ALDI No. 1, ahead of competitors such as WalMart, Costco, Kroger, Meijer and Safeway.. . . more

Monday, June 13, 2011

Saladworks Signs Multi-Unit Deal in Boston, MA

Saladworks, the nation’s first and largest fresh-tossed salad franchise concept, has announced an agreement with a multi-unit developer to open three stores in the next three years in Boston, MA.

Franchisee Tien Tien Lai, owner of an IT consulting business in Boston, said Saladworks was an easy choice to make.  . . more

Somebody forgot to tell Macy's that it was extinct

For the past decade we've been assured that department stores, if not already dead, were slouching toward extinction as their customers abandoned them for hipper, cheaper or more convenient specialty stores, big-box retailers, discounters and online outlets.

Those forecasts apparently did not reach Cincinnati, home of Macy's, the nation's biggest department store operator. In May, sales at Macy's stores open at least a year -- a key retailing metric known as same-store sales -- surged 7.4 percent. . . . more

Friday, June 10, 2011

Market Basket to come to Brockton

Market Basket plans to open store in Westgate Mall next spring

The popular discount grocer Market Basket will open a new store at Westgate Mall next spring, adding jobs, boosting the mall and offering local consumers another supermarket choice.

Newton-based New England Development, which recently repurchased Westgate Mall, announced the acquisition Thursday. . . . more

Consumer Comfort in U.S. Gains as Gasoline Prices Decrease

 Consumer confidence rose last week for the third consecutive time as lower gasoline prices lifted Americans’ outlook on their finances.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index climbed to minus 45.9 in the period to June 5, the best showing since the end of April, from the prior week’s minus 47.1. Across income groups, sentiment improved the most among those making less than $50,000 a year. . . . more

Retailers respond as value mania hits even the well-to-do

They make more than $100,000 a year. They're recently back from a vacation to Aruba — via freebie air miles. And they go shopping together for their groceries every week — at Walmart.

The Whited family of Marietta, Ga., never expected that Walmart would become their shopping anchor. Or that value would become their shopping mantra. But they have little choice.. . . more

Gap to close 200 more U.S. stores, cut vendors

Gap Inc. chairman and CEO Glenn Murphy had frank words for analysts on Wednesday, as he discussed mistakes Gap had made, and how the company would improve its North American Gap brand business and manage commodity costs to increase profitability in the future.
 
Murphy said he would reduce the number of Gap brand's North American stores to about 700 by 2013 from 900 today; there were over 1,150 Gap stores open in 2007 when Murphy joined Gap.. . . more

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Borders to close in Downtown Crossing

The troubled Borders Group Inc. bookstore chain is closing its Downtown Crossing location, leaving another big empty store front in the heart of the city.

Borders, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in February, is already shuttering eight other stores in Massachusetts, including its high profile Boylston Street store in Boston. . . . more

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Plan for Herald site: apartments, stores

National Development may begin work in ’12; goal is a vibrant city block

A proposal to build retail stores, 262 apartments, and underground parking on the site of The Boston Herald was filed with the city yesterday, signaling an end to the newspaper’s operations at its longtime headquarters in the South End.

National Development, of Newton, told the Boston Redevelopment Authority it wants to transform the industrial property into a mixed-use complex that would incorporate public gardens, outdoor seating, and other amenities.. . . more

Investment Sales of Retail Properties surges 53%

Investment sales volume of significant retail properties totaled $5.8 billion in the first quarter of 2011, up an astounding 53% from the same period in 2010. It is important to also note that the number of properties traded increased at a slower pace – by 25% – which means that properties are trading at comparatively higher prices.

Per-square-foot pricing, at $167, is at its highest level in two years and 31% higher than the trough in second quarter 2010. Cap rates are at their lowest level since 1980 ending the quarter at 7.6%.. . . more

Najafi Cos in discussions to buy Borders

Private-equity firm Najafi Companies is one of the suitors looking to buy the bulk of bankrupt bookseller Borders Group Inc's, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing multiple sources.

Phoenix, Arizona-based Najafi is moving quickly to complete due diligence on Borders to acquire its remaining 265 superstores, the paper said, citing one person familiar with the matter.. . . more

Fleeced by a Lease

Restaurant operators might soon have to list lease costs clearly on their balance sheets, a move that could drastically affect the real-estate market in the coming years.

It’s always been difficult to own and operate a successful quick serve, and in the next few years, it might get tougher. That’s because some proposed rule changes in the way a company’s balance sheets are organized could create mayhem by showing that, on paper at least, a profitable quick-serve unit is losing money.. . . more

Walmart Express Takes Aim at Dollar Stores

Wal-Mart Stores opened its first Walmart Express, its answer to the growing threat of dollar stores. The 15,000-square-foot store, one-tenth the size of a Walmart superstore, aims to carry everything consumers might need on the spur of the moment, from milk and eggs to DVDs.

Walmart Express is sized to fit into cities where space is at a premium and in rural areas that can't support a superstore, according to a report by the Associated Press. The first store, opened in rural Gentry, Ark., is about a half-mile away from a Dollar General location.. . . more

Mass. recovery leading region

Growth rate is 4th fastest in nation

The Massachusetts economy expanded faster than any other state in New England last year and ranked fourth in the nation in economic growth, the Department of Commerce reported yesterday.

The state’s economy grew 4.2 percent in 2010, trailing only North Dakota, which grew 7.1 percent; New York, 5.1 percent; and Indiana, 4.6 percent. The economy of West Virginia, which ranked fifth, grew 4 percent, according to the Commerce Department.. . . more

Buying time

Bidders are ready to purchase the former Filene’s site, but its owners are reluctant to sell at a big loss — and not very communicative with City Hall

Months after it was put up for sale, the former Filene’s property in Downtown Crossing still faces an uncertain fate as its New York owner refuses to unload it to bidders offering only a fraction of the $200 million spent on the marquee building.

Real estate brokers following the sale said many of the bids are about $50 million, a sum that would require Vornado Realty Trust and its partners to accept heavy losses.. . . more

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Grossman and Dinosaur Capital team to buy Borders site

The Grossman Cos. and Dinosaur Capital Partners have teamed to pay $4.05 million for a former Borders Bookstore in Braintree that was shuttered earlier this year after the book retailer filed for bankruptcy.

The 27,500-square-foot property at 255 Grossman Drive was previously owned by Zaremba Group Inc., a real estate investor and manager based in Ohio. Zaremba had owned the retail site since February 1997, when it paid $3.8 million to acquire the property. . . . more

Talbots 1Q income improves, but sales fall

Talbots reported that first quarter income from continuing operations was $0.9 million compared with last year’s loss from continuing operations of $7.1 million.

Trudy Sullivan, Talbots president and CEO, commented, “Our first quarter performance reflects an inconsistent customer response to our merchandise assortments, a challenging competitive environment and high levels of promotional activity. Although we did see a positive customer reaction to our March brand moment, our February and April brand moments underperformed and sales in each month of the quarter decreased year over year.”. . . more

Bad customer service irks most U.S. shoppers

Americans are fed up with bad customer service, with 64 percent walking out of stores due to poor assistance and 67 percent hanging up on a call before their problems are even addressed, according to a new survey.

The most annoying gripe is not being able to get a person on the phone, followed by rude salespeople, according to findings from a Consumer Reports survey issued on Tuesday.. . . more

Monday, June 6, 2011

Executive VP resigns at Borders

Employees flee as bookseller struggles with bankruptcy
 
Borders Group Inc. Executive VP and Chief Merchandising Officer Michele Cloutier has resigned, the company said Friday, the latest in a string of high-level departures from the Ann Arbor-based bookseller as it struggles to emerge from bankruptcy protection.
 
Nearly 50 workers left Borders between Feb. 16, when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and April 14, according to a Borders spokeswoman. . . . more