Friday, October 28, 2011

Walmart might try Whole new recipe

While Walmart faces opposition from Mayor Thomas M. Menino in its effort to launch a low-priced supermarket in the Hub, Whole Foods speedily opened a new store in Jamaica Plain by taking over an existing market.

Whole Foods plans to open a 13,700-square-foot store at the former Hi-Lo Market in Hyde Square next Tuesday, a strategy that Walmart is considering as it searches for its first Boston location. . . more

Pep Boys cruises for more buyouts

This year, as it marks its 90th anniversary, Pep Boys–Manny, Moe & Jack exceeded the company’s goal to open 50 Service & Tire Centers and instead hit 119 stores, with 99 by acquisition.

And the Philadelphia-based auto service and parts chain is nowhere near finished expanding its specialized tire store network. In 2012, Pep Boys plans to add 75 more Service & Tire Centers through “organic” growth or taking over already-closed auto repair facilities and rebadging them, according to President and CEO Michael Odell. . . more

The Coffee Wars Get Recaffeinated

Just when you thought the world was divided between the opposing forces of Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, new ventures have perked things up again in the coffee category. With the purpose of depositioning the blue mermaid. . . more

KeyPoint Partners to manage, lease Crossings at Fox Run

Burlington, Mass.-based KeyPoint Partners said it has been awarded the property management and leasing contracts for The Crossings at Fox Run, a 475,000-sq.-ft. power center in Newington, N.H.

The property will be handled out of the firm’s Burlington, Mass., corporate headquarters. Heitman LLC awarded the contracts.. . . more

U.S. stores shrink, get make-overs to boost sales

U.S. stores have an identity crisis. The big ones want to be smaller, the small ones are getting bigger and all of them want to sell more food.

For years, U.S. retailers could simply build more stores, the larger the better, near new developments to spur sales growth. These days, as suburban communities have lost their luster and more people stay in or near cities, that formula needs a make-over.. . . more

Christmas comes early... but not at Nordstrom

One major department store that’s sticking to its ho-ho-holdout policy is Nordstrom. While other stores are already decking the mall halls, shoppers at the Seattle-based chain will be greeted with this sign in mid-November: “We won’t be decking our halls until Nov. 25. Why? Well, we just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time.”

It’s the same sign the shop puts up ever year, bucking the trend to start the holiday sale-abration in October.

“It’s our tradition that we wait,” said spokesman Colin Johnson.. . . more

Lowe’s drops bid for Auburn, MA store

Former Yankee Drummer site to be offered for sale

After eight years of court battles and settlements with neighbors, Lowe’s has decided not to build in Auburn after all.

“Lowe’s has made the decision not to move forward with placing a store on this site. The site will now be placed for sale,” said Stacey C. Lentz, public relations manager for Lowe’s. . . . more

Rite Aid same-store sales up 2.9% in October

Rite Aid Corp. reported Thursday that same-store sales increased 2.9% in October, boosted by a 3.6% surge in pharmacy same-store sales. Front-end same-store sales edged up 1.3%.. . . more

Mobile survey: 37% of retailers now have a mobile site

The third annual Mobile Audit, released Thursday by e-commerce and digital marketing company Acquity Group, found that mobile adoption is on the rise. In fact, the percentage of retailers with a mobile site reached 37% in 2011, up from 12% in 2010 and only 4% in 2009 – a 210% increase over the past year alone.

Leaders in the mobile space, according to survey findings, are – in alphabetical order -- Amazon, Armani Exchange, Barnes & Noble,, Cabela’s, Gilt Groupe, The Home Depot, Newegg, Walgreens and Wal-Mart.. . . more

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Vitamin Shoppe Q3 sales and profit up; on track to open 48 stores

Vitamin Shoppe sales increased 11.5% to $208.9 million, from $187.4 million last year. Same-store sales rose 7.1%. The company opened 10 stores during the quarter, and expects to open 48 new stores in this fiscal year and another 52 locations in fiscal 2012.. . . more

Trader Joe's tries to keep quirky vibe as it expands quickly

The Southern California grocery chain is opening larger stores across the nation to accommodate more shoppers and a greater variety of low-cost, foodie-friendly items. Customers, who adore the 'homey' feel of its stores, have mixed feelings.

The chain has expanded from more than 20 locations in Southern California in the 1970s to more than 360 shops in far-flung places such as New York, Chicago and Des Moines, Iowa. Its smallest shop, at 5,500 square feet, is in Boston. Last year, the company pulled in an estimated $8 billion in sales, roughly on par with rival Whole Foods Market, based in Austin, Texas.. . . more

Costco Seen Benefiting in Holiday Sales as Shoppers Prove Skittish

Shoppers at stores from Best Buy Co. to Gap Inc. and Toys “R” Us Inc. all said in a recent poll that they’ll spend less this holiday season than last year. Customers plan to buy more at only one chain: Costco Wholesale Corp.

Such may be the story of the 2011 holiday shopping season, in which consumers who splurged last year focus their spending on more practical items amid persistent joblessness and choppy stock markets, said Pam Goodfellow, an analyst at Worthington, Ohio-based BIGresearch, whose consulting arm conducted the survey of 9,000 shoppers at 11 chains. . . . more

Dunkin’ Donuts to open 86 new units in nation’s capital by 2020

Dunkin' Donuts has 86 new restaurants slated for development in the Washington, D.C., market by 2020. The company said 15 development agreements were signed over the past year that will deliver 64 new restaurants, in addition to 22 restaurants that were previously contracted.

"Washington, D.C., has been a priority growth market for Dunkin' Donuts and these 15 agreements have essentially sold out Dunkin' Donuts development opportunities in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area," said Grant Benson, CFE, VP franchising and market planning, Dunkin' Brands. "These deals represent a 50% increase in rooftops from the 125 restaurants in the market right now.". . . more

Industry real operating income to be flat or rise only 1% in 2011

The U.S. retail industry will perform in line with sluggish U.S. GDP growth through 2012 as persistent unemployment, stock market volatility and economic gloom weigh on consumer confidence and spending, according to a new report by Moody's Investors Service.

"Our outlook is stable, and we expect real operating-income will stay flat or rise only 1% in 2011, and increase a mere 2%-3% in 2012," said Margaret Taylor, a Moody's VP and senior credit officer. "While consumers face headwinds, retailers remain challenged by increased commodity prices.". . . more

Books-A-Million to open 41 locations

Books-A-Million (BAM), which has been taking over the leases of former Borders locations, will transform 41 of the sites into BAM stores in early November. Most the locations, which are across the nation, represent new markets for the bookseller.

In addition to opening the 41 outlets, the company is closing 21 locations. Expenses related to the new store openings and store closings will be reflected primarily in third quarter results.. . . more

Daddy's Junky Music ends on a sour note after 39 years

Daddy's Junky Music, the 39-year-old company that flourished thanks to the New Hampshire Advantage, folded on Wednesday, a victim of the struggling economy and shifts to Internet sales, founder Fred Bramante said.

At its closing Daddy's counted 12 stores in four states, including New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut.. . . more

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How the economic slowdown has changed consumer spending in America

AMERICANS are spending less on clothes and eating out and more on household fuel bills and healthcare, according to data from the Bureau of Labour Statistics. Between 2007 and 2010, average annual consumer spending per unit—defined as a family/shared household or single/financially independent person—fell by 3.1% to $48,109. Average prices over this period have risen by 5.2%, so real consumer spending has fallen by almost 8%. The recession and economic slowdown have reduced buying power and consumers are tightening their belts in many ways, though spending on women’s clothes (and belts) fares slightly better than men’s. . . . more

Owner of Mass. malls beats Wall Street estimates

Simon Property Group, whose properties include 16 malls or outlet centers in Massachusetts, reported funds from operations of $606.2 million — up from $318.5 million during the third quarter 2010.

For its entire national portfolio, the real estate investment trust reported occupancy of 93.9 percent — a slight uptick from the same period in 2010; total sales per square foot of $517, well above last year's $473; and average rent of $38.87, up slightly from last year's $37.58.. . . more

Downtown Crossing building is sold for $128m

The Downtown Crossing building at 350 Washington St. has been sold for $128 million, said a broker involved in the transaction. The building may be best known for such tenants as T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, H&M, and Town Sports International. . . more

Small Retailers Cross Their Fingers for Holiday Sales

After years of heavy discounting to entice cautious consumers, some small retailers say they worry another bad holiday sales season could push their businesses over the edge.

Retailers tend to generate the bulk of their annual revenue during the fourth quarter, and industry experts forecast another disappointing Christmas ahead. That's especially troublesome for small merchants since their businesses rely on holiday sales even more than large ones, which are often better able to absorb steep markdowns.. . . more

Target shoots for brisk holiday electronics season

Guns and bloodshed may be the perfect gifts to ensure a merry Christmas for Target Corp.

The U.S. discount chain hopes that a new slate of video games, along with gadgets such as e-readers and tablets, will lead to a strong holiday season in the electronics department, an executive said on Tuesday.

Target and its competitors are gearing up for what could be a price war. Target matches prices if shoppers find items advertised for less at other stores, so it can compete with the new "Christmas Price Guarantee" that rival Wal-Mart Stores Inc announced on Monday.. . . more

Marshalls, T.J. Maxx offer in-season bargains, CEO says

"Treasure hunting" attracts many to the off-price retailers, according to TJX, which owns both stores, along with the home furnishings chain HomeGoods. Off-price stores sell name-brand clothing, jewelry, luggage and other items found in other stores, but at prices that are often far lower. They can do this, in part, because they sell merchandise from a previous year or season that a store or brand couldn't sell and unloaded for pennies on the dollar to a liquidator. Or so the thinking goes.

In a rare interview, TJX CEO Carol Meyrowitz explained how conventional wisdom is wrong when it comes to T.J. Maxx and Marshalls. . . . more

Can Social Commerce Boost In-Store Sales?

Remember when shopping meant meeting up with a friend and going to the local shopping mall or department store? Well, as nice as it was, many consumers are too busy these days or perhaps live too far away from shopping companions to enjoy a shopping experience with their peers.

Consumers don’t want to abandon in-store shopping, particularly with their friends; they just want many ways to shop. Stores should be a vibrant and essential channel, but they need to evolve to keep pace with consumers’ rapidly changing needs. People are demanding more than just the status quo now that they are getting adept at using multiple channels to find what they want, peer reviews and opinions on that particular product and the best price for it. Retailers need to think about what experiences they are providing to consumers and the incentives they are offering to drive traffic into their stores.. . . more

Middleboro invites grocery store chain to open in town

The town has invited Wegmans Food Markets to open a store in south Middleboro, an area that currently has no grocery store.

Town Manager Charles J. Cristello told selectmen this week he sent a letter to Wegmans Chief Executive Daniel Wegman after learning the Rochester, N.Y.-based chain is expanding to Massachusetts, opening its first store in Northboro. Wegmans currently operates 79 stores along the East Coast.. . . more

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Book Shack to open in at Kingston Mall in former Borders space

A pair of local book lovers will resurrect the former Borders space at Kingston’s Independence Mall as The Book Shack this week. Erik Christensen and Jason Zutaut want to create an inviting space that hosts community events and sells most of its titles at discounts of up to 60 percent. . . more

.Toys ‘R’ Us to run 10% back holiday promo

Toys “R” Us will again give its loyalty rewards members 10% back on holiday purchases. The offer, whereby members of the chain’s rewards club get 10% back in “R Us” dollars for each dollar spent on qualifying purchases, is available from Oct. 30 through Christmas Eve. The promotional dollars will be sent to customers via email in January and can be used on future in-store purchases. . . more

The Growing Influence of Private Equity

Earlier this month, 99 Cents Only Stores Inc. was acquired by affiliates of two private-equity companies for approximately $1.6 billion. While not a convenience-store chain, the 99 Cents Only sale is the latest deal in which a retail chain was bought out by private-equity interests. The trend has permeated the c-store industry at several levels, but perhaps most notably in the cases of Mid-Atlantic Convenience Stores LLC (MACS) and VPS Convenience Store Group. . . more

Are direct-owned branded luxury shops crowding out department stores?

Luxury distribution has undergone a significant shift in that direct-owned stores have outshined department stores by more than 50 percent in year-over-year growth, leading experts to wonder whether or not premium brands would actually do better on their own. . . more

Monday, October 24, 2011

Retailers not engaging mobile shoppers

While 43% of smartphone owners have installed and used a retailer's app, only 14% of those who installed them say the app led to a purchase decision, according to the most recent Retrevo Pulse Study, an ongoing study of tech industry trends conducted for the consumer electronics shopping and review site.

"Retrevo's findings indicate that customers are willing to download and use retailer's mobile apps," said Manish Rathi, co-founder and VP marketing "But when only 14% of the installed base actually indicates it 'helped them buy something,' it's time for retailers to rethink their mobile engagement strategy.. . . more

Deck the malls: vacancies rise as holidays approach

We are heading into a holiday season without Borders, Blockbuster and Linens 'n Things. Retailers such as Abercrombie and Fitch, Gap, and Limited Brands have collectively closed hundreds of stores across the country. The retailers have left big gaps in malls since closing last year.

Evidence of the impact is seen in a report out this month showing shopping mall vacancies hit an 11-year high in the third quarter. . . . more

Bloomingdale's to open in Wrentham

A Bloomingdale's is scheduled to open this week at Wrentham Village Premium Outlets, heralding in a new era for the popular and expansive mall and bringing in much-needed tax revenue and jobs to town.

Bloomingdale's The Outlet Store, a high-end retail establishment owned by Macy's department store chain, is slated to open Thursday.

The 24,000-square-foot store is located by the Dunkin' Donuts and Cracker Barrel Restaurant off South Street (Route 1A) on the last remaining buildable parcel fronting the outlet mall.. . . more

Wal-Mart unveils strategy to match prices after purchases are made during the holiday season

Wal-Mart announced a new strategy that it hopes will pull in procrastinators early by giving them a big incentive: a guarantee that they’ll get the lowest price no matter when they buy during the holiday season.

The discounter said Monday it will match prices on many of its products. Shoppers who buy something at a Walmart store between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25, but then find the identical product elsewhere for less, can get a gift card in the amount of the difference.. . . more

Friday, October 21, 2011

Unemployment rates fall in half of US states

Unemployment rates fell in half of U.S. states last month, a sign that September's pickup in hiring was felt around the country.

The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment rates dropped in 25 states, rose in 14 and stayed the same in 11. That's an improvement from August, when unemployment rose in 26 states.. . . more
Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. posted a 25-percent increase in third-quarter profit on Thursday, despite rising commodity costs, and beating analysts’ expectations.

Revenue was up 24 percent to $591.9 million on a same-store sales increase of 11.3 percent, driven by traffic and menu price increases taken over the summer.. . . more

Barnes & Noble chief financial officer resigns

Barnes & Noble says Chief Financial Officer Joseph Lombardi has resigned and the company is starting a search to replace him.

Barnes & Noble is dealing with the same tough competition and changing book-reading habits that forced its rival Borders Group to liquidate earlier this year. The company has focused on its e-book reader the Nook and its digital media library in an effort to improve results.. . . more

Wal-Mart cutting back on healthcare coverage for new employees

Wal-Mart Stores is cutting back healthcare coverage for new part-time workers and significantly raising premiums for many new full-time associates, the New York Times reported. It is a major turnaround for the retailer which, a few years back, under heavy criticism that many of its 1.4 million workers could not afford or did not qualify for coverage, expanded coverage for employees and their families. The move generated of flurry of positive publicity.

Under the new program, future part-time employees who work less than 24 hours a week on average will no longer qualify for any of the chain’s health insurance plans, according to the report. . . . more

'Flash Robs' Vex Retailers

Retailers this holiday season are preparing to protect themselves against a new group of unwanted visitors: swarms of teenagers and young adults who plot via Twitter, phone texts and Facebook to descend on stores and steal merchandise.

Law enforcement officials call them "flash robs," a criminal incarnation of the "flash mob" phenomenon in which participants use social media to organize impromptu gatherings, from dances in shopping malls to uprisings in the Middle East.. . . more

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Retailers desperate to entice holiday shoppers

Not every retailer will go as far as giving away merchandise during the holidays, but many will offer profit-busting incentives to lure cost-conscious consumers. It's a critical time of year for merchants, which can make up to 40 percent of their annual revenue in November and December. And they're so worried that Americans are spooked by the weak economy that they're willing to sacrifice profit for sales.

Nordstrom, for instance, is one of the first retailers to offer free shipping on most orders, no matter how small, even though it could wind up paying $3 to ship a $7 pair of socks.. . . more

Mass. unemployment rate drops to 7.3 percent

The state unemployment rate last month fell to its lowest level in nearly three years, as key sectors on the state economy continued to add jobs, the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported today.

The jobless rate in Massachusetts fell to 7.3 percent from 7.4 percent in August. It was the lowest rate since January 2009. The national unemployment rate is 9.1 percent.. . . more

Barnes & Noble expands beyond books

Online retailer adding home products and consumer electronics

Barnes & Noble Inc. is adding home products and consumer electronics to the items available on its online marketplace, the latest move by the retailer to rely less on book sales and fend off e-commerce rivals like Inc and eBay Inc .

Barnes & Noble, the largest U.S. bookstore chain, has largely focused on books for its marketplace. Members will now also be able to buy and sell items like rugs, cooking items and children's games, the company said Thursday.. . . more

Dead River Exits Convenience Retailing

Selling all 19 c-stores to Circle K to focus on heating oil, propane business

Dead River Co. is getting out of the convenience store business after about 40 years. Company officials have reached an agreement to sell its 19 stores in Maine to Circle K.

The stores are in Augusta, Bangor, Belfast, Brunswick, Caribou, Farmingdale, Gray, Houlton, Mars Hill, Mexico, Millinocket, Presque Isle, Rockport, Rumford, Southwest Harbor and Winthrop.. . . more

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The store that killed small business

A new book explores how A&P transformed the retail industry and set the stage for our chain-dominated world

“Big Business Now Sweeps Retail Trade,” declared the New York Times in 1928. “Huge Corporations, Serving the Nation Through Country-Wide Chains, Are Displacing the Neighborhood Store.” While some version of that headline wouldn’t be out of place in a present-day report about Walmart, the chain that provoked the most anxiety almost a century ago was the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., which in 1920 began a 43-year run as the largest retailer in the world, transforming the retail industry in ways that made Walmart possible. . . more

Survey: Shoppers will trim spending, search for deals, buy online

Retailers will have to work harder this year to keep their holiday cheer as a new survey shows consumer spending will likely be down about 2 percent.

Shoppers are expected to spend an average of $704 on holiday gifts and seasonal merchandise this year, down from $719 last year, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey. . . more

SuperValu returns to profit in Q2; on track to open 80 to 90 Save-A-Lot stores

SuperValu reported net income of $60 million for its fiscal second quarter, compared with a year-ago loss of $1.47 billion that was the result of one-time charges.

Retail food sales slipped to $6.6 billion from $6.7 billion as SuperValu exited certain markets and same-store sales fell 1.8%. . . . more

For Christmas at Neiman Marcus: a $75,000 yurt

Not interested in nomadic outdoor living? How about a $125,000 custom-built library?

Falling bonuses could not be coming at a worse time for investment bankers: It is going to make it that much harder to buy a $75,000 yurt for Christmas.

A luxury version of the tent more associated with Mongol nomads than Wall Street dealmakers is one of the fantasy gifts in the 2011 Neiman Marcus Christmas book.. . . more
Wegmans thanked its opening day customers on its Facebook page this morning.

“Two words: THANK YOU! We had a record-breaking opening on Sunday with 25,500 customers! The previous record was held by our Dulles, VA store with 20,000.”

Wegmans Food Markets Inc. opened its first New England store Sunday in the Northborough Crossing shopping center near Routes 9 and 20. . . . more

The Future of Drugstores: Operators Broaden Offerings to Capture Market Share

This summer a new store opened in New York City that created more buzz than retail industry insiders had witnessed in quite a while. The store does not belong to a luxury apparel brand on swanky Madison Avenue, however. It’s a 22,000-square-foot drugstore in Manhattan’s Financial District.

The store, operated by regional chain Duane Reade, which is owned by Walgreen Co., blows apart the very idea of what a drugstore is supposed to be. Located on 40 Wall Street, in a former Chase Manhattan Bank building, it features on-site hair and nail salons, an in-store health clinic, an expansive grocery, fresh food and a makeup section worthy of a department store. . . . more

Gourmet Grocer to Launch New Concept to Gain Back Hometown Glory

A storied New York institution that was swept away by the Great Recession is making another entrance into the city through a new concept.

Earlier this month, specialty supermarket operator Balducci’s announced it will open a 2,150-square-foot Gourmet CafĂ© at 300 W. 57th Street in Manhattan, possibly followed up by similar locations in other parts of New York.. . . more

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Diners fork over dough

Boston may be able to eat its way to economic health as a raft of new restaurants draws more diners willing to drop discretionary dollars and feeds meal taxes into the city’s coffers. . . more

J.C. Penney sells outlet stores to Schottenstein affiliate

A company affiliated with the familiar Schottenstein retailing name has taken over J.C. Penney’s outlet stores.

In a deal announced yesterday, SB Capital Group said it has acquired 15 stores in 13 states from J.C. Penney Co. The stores will operate as JCPenney Outlet Stores for 21 months, and then the name will be changed to JC’s 5 Star Outlet stores.. . . more

Wegmans opens first Massachusetts store; evokes rural theme in design

Wegmans Food Markets has opened its first location in Massachusetts, in the town of Northborough. The 138,000-sq.-ft. store, the largest supermarket in New England, has a warm, welcoming feel.

“As you approach the store,” said Corinne Chiogna, who headed Wegmans’ design team’s effort, “there’s a rooster-themed weathervane atop a cupola in the center of a gabled roof. It’s a reminder of food’s roots in agriculture. The stonework on the face of the building, the diagonal bracing, and soft neutral colors with red accents on the roof make you think of a barn in the countryside. We chose traditional rather than trendy themes because we wanted everyone to feel comfortable in this space.” . . . more

Last gasp for Sears

In what seems an admission that the Sears shopping experience continues to have about as much appeal as getting a root canal, Sears Holding Corporation has moved to expand partnerships over the last few months that allow competitors to sell its most storied brands. Craftsman tools and DieHard batteries have already escaped the big-box retail behemoth, and it's probably only a matter of time before Kenmore makes a break for freedom as well.

The move is an ingenious elixir for near-term earnings, providing incremental cash flow to the struggling corporate mash-up that Eddie Lampert built, and is a delightful added discomfort to Sears' high-interest-paying shorts, who have watched the company's float vanish thanks to Lampert's aggressive stock buybacks. But critics worry that it could, in the end, just be digging the once omnipresent retailer a deeper grave.. . . more

Discounter to shutter four stores in Mass.

Struggling discounter Filene’s Basement is closing four Massachusetts stores - about 15 percent of the chain’s locations - by the end of the year.

Store employees at the Braintree, Peabody, Saugus, and Watertown sites yesterday confirmed the shops would be shuttered around Christmas and that ongoing sales are final. . . . more

Monday, October 17, 2011

Saks CEO Bets on Technology, Not Stores

CEO Steve Sadove doesn't foresee future growth in brick-and-mortar stores.

Saks has closed seven stores over the past two years and plans to shutter several more, with few plans on opening any new locations.

"I don't think the U.S. needs new stores," Sadove said. . . . more

Lowe’s scales back openings, closing 20 underperforming stores

Lowe's Cos. announced Monday it will open 10 to 15 stores annually in North America from 2012 forward, down from its prior target of 30 stores, and will close 20 underperforming locations. The chain is on track to open 25 stores as planned in 2011.

The stores scheduled to be closed are in 15 states, ranging from California to Maine. The closings will impact some 1,950 employees.. . . more

Five Guys burger chain plans two downtown Boston locations

Virginia-based burger chain Five Guys Burgers and Fries .Five Guys Burgers and Fries is apparently laying plans to open not one, but two locations in downtown Boston - with the first set to open in a matter of months. The popular burger chain has opened locations in several Boston suburbs, but until now has stayed away from the city proper.

Now, Five Guys has a Craigslist job listing for a "Summer Street location," and the Downtown Boston Business Improvement's website is reporting the new restaurant is set to open later this year or next year at 58 Summer St.. . . more

Wegmans wows early bird “Wegmaniac” shoppers

More than 1,000 fans of Wegmans, the first supermarket superstore of its kind in New England, jammed the parking lot in the pre-dawn hours in Northboro today and stood in line for hours to get the first glimpse into the giant store that has a cult following.

“I’m a Wegmaniac,” said Mark Fogleman, a 34-year-old software engineer from Framingham who was among the first in line. “I lived in Ithaca for five years and fell in love with Wegmans.. . . more

New Shopping Behavior Poses Risk to Retailers

It’s a retail maxim followed by everyone from Best Buy Co. to Foot Locker Inc. (FL): Get shoppers in the door and then sell them stuff they didn’t plan on buying.

Impulse purchases require people to browse the aisles, however, and that’s happening less and less these days because Web-savvy consumers often already know what they plan to buy and simply pick it up and leave, said Bill Martin, the chief executive officer of ShopperTrak. . . more

Lord & Taylor eyes growth

Lord & Taylor is gearing up for a fresh growth spurt.

In a bold move that defies years of stagnation in the department store sector, the New York-based retail chain plans to open three new stores in the coming year, sources told The Post.

Two locations are slated to open in March -- an 80,000-square-foot store at Ridge Hill, a lifestyle center in Yonkers, and a 120,000-square-foot store in Rockingham, NH, at a shopping mall owned by Simon Property Group.. . . more

Friday, October 14, 2011

Towering hopes for Downtown Boston

Developers today will begin construction on The Kensington, a 381-unit apartment building on a vacant lot at LaGrange and Washington streets that once hosted the Gaiety Theater. Scheduled for completion in the summer of 2013, it will also include two or three small retail shops.

The $170 million project is expected to provide a boost to Menino’s effort to enliven Washington Street with stores, refurbished theaters, and hundreds of new homes. The start of construction follows other positive developments in the area, including the sale of several commercial buildings. In addition, leases have been signed with Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Back Deck Grill, the Mexican fast-food chain Chipotle, Capital One bank, and the yogurt shop Fresh Mango, among others.. . . more

Gap details growth strategy

Gap said it is on track to its goal of a 10% reduction in overall store square footage (as compared with 2007) in North America by the end of fiscal 2012. Gap’s namesake brand will cut its square footage 34% overall (compared with 2007 levels), resulting in 700 U.S. and Canada Gap stores and 250 Gap Outlet stores at the end of 2013.

The plan for Old Navy is to have roughly the same number of stores in North America, but with a smaller footprint, The chain expects to potentially remove another 1 million sq. ft. by fiscal year end 2013.. . . more

Casual-dining chains in for rocky 2012

Economic challenges for casual-dining chains will persist into 2012, according to a new report from Goldman Sachs securities analysts Michael Kelter and Chris Cerrone.

The two analysts said Darden Restaurants Inc. is the only company positioned to weather the slow recovery’s drag on consumer spending.. . . more

New York firm completes lease acquisition for Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp., a New York real estate firm, announced today that it has closed on the acquisition of the 63-year ground lease for Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston from General Growth Properties, a Chicago mall operator.

In a statement released today, Ashkenazy said it expect to make future improvements to the property and anticipates working closely with the Boston Redevelopment Authority to reinvigorate the shopping center.. . . more

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lots in store at new Wegmans

With throngs expected to descend on the first Wegmans supermarket to open in New England on Sunday, area police are bracing for thousands of shoppers eager to check out the biggest grocery store in the Bay State.

“Wegmans has a cult following, and their grand openings attract as many as 30,000 people,” said Lt. William Lyver. “We understand three busloads of people are coming out of Boston who originally hailed from upstate New York. We expect to be utilizing officers from Westboro and Shrewsbury to help with traffic.”. . . more

Some Friendly advice

Friendly Ice Cream Corp. last week became the latest in a string of classic American restaurant chains to file for bankruptcy protection. The Wilbraham company, founded in 1935 , abruptly closed more than 60 locations and now hopes to reinvent itself as a leaner, more viable business by early December. . . more