Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Growth in Commercial Real Estate Markets Expected in 2012

Commercial real estate markets have been relatively flat this year, but improving fundamentals mean a more positive trend is expected in 2012, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Looking at commercial vacancy rates from the fourth quarter of this year to the fourth quarter of 2012, NAR forecasts vacancies to decline 0.6 percentage point in the office sector, 0.4 point in industrial real estate, 0.8 point in the retail sector and 0.7 percentage point in the multifamily rental market.. . . more

CVS clears key hurdle in Amesbury

Almost a year and a half ago, the CVS proposed at the intersection of Main and Macy streets was dead in the water when developers faced a backlash from neighbors and town leaders.
Now, it's a different story.

The Planning Board has unanimously approved a CVS and a Victorian-style building on the corner of Route 110 and Main Street that has storefronts on the first floor and residences above.. . . more

C-store growth poses threat to quick service

Convenience stores that sell food and beverages continue to steal market share from limited-service restaurant chains, new research finds.

While quick-service chains have expanded their operating hours and menus to operate across all dayparts and capture consumers trading down from casual and fast-casual competitors, they still face threats from convenience stores.. . . more

US Cyber Monday sales jump; department stores shine

Cyber Monday online sales jumped to a record, led by department stores and home goods retailers, according to U.S. data released on Tuesday.

Online sales climbed 33 percent versus Cyber Monday in 2010, said IBM Benchmark, a unit of International Business Machines .

Department stores saw online sales surge 60 percent this Cyber Monday, compared to last year, while sales of home goods climbed 68 percent, IBM Benchmark added.. . . more

Westford shopping-center developer withdraws changes

The Cornerstone Square developer has withdrawn its application for modifications to permits that were approved two years ago, after the Planning Board and residents expressed concern over the changes that were requested, including construction times and exterior signs.

Douglas Deschenes, the attorney representing the developer, Westford LC, LLC, told the Planning Board last night that he wished to withdraw the proposal submitted last month that included amendments to five special permits, the site-review plan and the development agreement approved by the board in 2009.. . . more

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Consumer Confidence heads in the right direction

The Conference Board reported Tuesday morning that its Consumer Confidence Index increased to 56.0 in November, up from 40.9 in October.

That's not the only metric improving. The Expectations Index rose to 67.8 from 50.0, and the Present Situation Index increased to 38.3 from 27.1. 

It's certainly not partying like 1985 -- when the Index was set at 100. But it's an improvement welcomed by Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. . . . more

Crocs unveils new store concept

Casual footwear-retailer Crocs debuted its new concept store, with locations in Mall of America, Bloomington, Minn.; Barton Creek, Austin, Texas; and Streets at Southpoint, Durham, N.C.

The store is designed to provide an engaging, fun and high-touch environment, inviting consumers to explore, interact and shop. . . . more

Rite Aid gains after analyst says it may be Walgreen target

Rite Aid Corp. climbed 7.3 percent after Susquehanna Financial Group said it may be a takeover target of Walgreen Co., the largest U.S. drugstore chain.

Growing “hostility” over reimbursement rates between drugstore chains and companies that manage drug benefits for corporations and other employers may lead to consolidation among retailers, Stauff said. Walgreen, which controls almost 28 percent of prescription sales, would capture another 7.1 percent with Rite Aid, he estimated.. . . more

Big sales jump for Cyber Monday

More than a billion dollars spent

After years of being more hype than highlight, Cyber Monday has reached its biggest outing ever.

Last year, the Monday after Thanksgiving saw an estimated $1 billion spent online in the United States, making it the biggest e-sales day ever. And analysts said Monday that this year's "holiday" -- the online answer to the annual Black Friday bargain rush on stores -- is on pace to be bigger still.. . . more

Wanted: Merrimack Street revival

Group to unveil ideas for sparking depressed end of Downtown Haverhill

It's the forsaken end of downtown.

While the Washington Street corridor thrives with popular restaurants, upscale housing developments, riverside improvements and a new $11 million parking garage, the Merrimack Street end is lined with under-used buildings and empty storefronts.

At the entrance to Merrimack Street from Route 125 sits Haverhill's signature abandoned property, the Woolworth Building. Across the street is the crumbling and unkempt Goeke municipal garage.. . . more

Black Friday proves to be record day for retail

The combination of earlier-than-ever opening hours, favorable weather and deal-conscious consumers receptive to heightened promotional activity produced record sales over Thanksgiving weekend.

The National Retail Federation said an estimated 226 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Thanksgiving weekend, compared with 212 million last year, and spent an average of $398 per person, compared with $365 last year. . . . more

Mass. Retail Liquor Bill Signed Into Law

Before adjourning on Nov. 16, the Mass. Legislature passed a bill to increase the number of liquor licenses a retail food entity can hold from the present limit of three to nine licenses per company over the next eight years.

Beginning January 1, 2012, the limit jumps from three to five, then in 2016 it jumps from five to seven, and in 2020 it jumps from seven to nine licenses. . . . more

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Which Retailers Will Win Black Friday?

Amazon, Target, JCPenney Perceived as Providing the Best Value

This year, retailers are pulling out all the stops to attract shoppers during what is expected to be a ho-hum holiday season. Black Friday deals have already been released by a number of major players.. . . more

New retail concept for kids makes Chicago debut

A new retail concept, Wonder!, has opened it first location in Deerfield, Ill. The 135,000-sq.-ft. space is intended as a one-stop shopping solution, focused on children ages birth to seven years. It combines a broad selection of product (including baby gear, furniture, bedding, apparel, and toys) with an array of experiential elements.

The brainchild of entrepreneur Shane Christensen, the company plans to expand the concept into other major markets in the next year (it already has launched an e-commerce site). Bill Colaianni, former Walmart chief marketing and merchandising officer for Central America, is serving as CEO. . . . more

Pink's Hot Dogs Expand Nationally

From a humble beachhead established in Hollywood more than seven decades ago, the storied hot-dog institution Pink’s is slating a national expansion.

We are getting inquiries from licensees nationally. Typically, from operators in airports, amusement parks, casinos, cruise ships, stadiums, or open-air entertainment centers such as Universal City,” say Gloria Pink, Co-Owner.  . . . more

Brown Shoe to close 145 stores

said it plans to close 70 and 75 Famous Footwear stores in fiscal 2011 and 2012, or a total of 145 stores.

Brown, which has more than 1,100 stores nationwide, also plans to close all of its Brown Shoe Closet and F.X. LaSalle stores and exit all of children’s wholesale and some women’s specialty and private brands, said President and Chief Executive Diane Sullivan.. . . more

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Survey: Empty shelves, long checkout lines among top threats to keeping customers

Nearly 70% of U.S. adults would avoid shopping at a retail store if they encountered empty shelves, according to a nationwide survey commissioned by Galleria Retail Technology Solutions, a leading provider of retail and category optimization solutions. Long checkout lines are another big turnoff (64%). . . more

TD Bank eyes closing 4 MA branches

TD Bank has notified federal banking regulators that it plans to close down four of its facilities in Massachusetts after the first of the year — two of them on Cape Ann.

The drive-through branch on Washington Street, just off Grant Circle, in Gloucester, and the branch office located at 15 Martin St. in Essex are both targeted for closure in February, according to reports. . . more

Deval Patrick says casino commission may not necessarily create three casinos

Little more than an hour before he signed legislation that could bring up to three casinos to Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick said this morning that there may not necessarily be that many.

The governor said the five-member casino commission being created under the new law can award up to that many licenses, but could conceivably start with just one or two.. . . more

U.S. retail availability expected to decline in 2012

A report released Monday by CBRE Econometric Advisors, a division of Los Angeles-based CBRE Group, said that the U.S. retail real estate sector’s availability rate is expected to decline to 12.4% by the end of 2012.

In 2013, the national retail availability rate, including neighborhood and community centers, will drop further, reaching 11.7%.

In third quarter 2011 the retail availability rate was 13.2%. This rate remains well above the previous availability peak of 11.3% set in second quarter 1992.. . . more

City Sports opens 21st store

City Sports has opened its 21st store, in downtown Silver Spring, Md. It is the retailer’s second location in the metro D.C. area to open in the past year.

The store features an interactive electronics section that offers shoppers the use of in-store iPads to access information about products and the ability to wear-test headphones.. . . more

ShopperTrak predicts Dec. 26 will be a ‘door-buster’ day

Up to 60% more shoppers will enter stores on Dec. 26 than on the same day last year, according to ShopperTrak, the world's largest provider of retail and mall foot traffic counting services. The reason for the increase is due to the calendar: Shoppers will come out in full force on the day after Christmas because it falls on a Monday for the first time in six years. That day will rank third in foot traffic for the holiday shopping season, surpassed only by Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and Super Saturday, the Saturday one week before Christmas.. . . more

Retailers roll out Black Friday freebies

As if doorbusters, early-bird specials and earlier store hours aren't enough to lure customers, retailers are about to wave the magic wand that works almost every time: free stuff.

What better marketing move for retail giants — from J.C. Penney to Sears to Old Navy— than flaunting the term "free" to draw even a smidgen of the Black Friday weekend's 152 million shoppers?

P.F. Chang's to open new concept

P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc. plans to open an even more limited-service and pared-down-menu version of its fast-casual Pei Wei Asian Diner in Phoenix next April, executives said Friday.

Called Pei Wei Asian Market, the new test restaurant will take over an existing Diner unit in Phoenix, said K.C. Moylan, president of the 173-unit Asian Diner division. The division is also looking for three to five additional locations around the country.. . . more

Lampert plans to remake Sears

Edward Lampert is remaking Sears Holdings Corp. to be quite unlike the department store Americans have known since 1893.

Billionaire chairman Lampert is lessening his company’s dependence on full-size locations, where sales have fallen. In his latest attempt to turn around the largest U.S. chain of its kind, Lampert is turning to smaller store formats, Web sales and the lure of its brands to reignite growth.. . . more

Monday, November 21, 2011

Black Friday Darkens Prospects for Brick-and-Mortar Retailers

Black Friday is poised to heighten the gloom for many brick-and-mortar retailers. Stepped-up efforts to lure shoppers into stores will result in massive one-day sales, but they will also propel the industry further towards strategic blunder. By fighting an internecine battle to outdo each other’s Black Friday stampedes, brick-and-mortar retailers are playing to the strengths of their real competition—online retailers—while collectively eroding their own key differentiation—the consumer shopping experience.. . . more

Could Assembly Square Outlets Affect Rutherford Ave Redesign?

Last week the Globe reported that dozens of outlet stores are on the horizon-- a new development for the massive retail project in Somerville that could have an impact on the city's plans for redesigning Sullivan Square and Rutherford Avenue.

Mark Rosenshein, who heads up the development committee for the Charlestown Neighborhood Council, said he called city planners as soon as he read about the outlet store proposal.. . . more

Retailers going all out this holiday season

This holiday season, retailers are rushing more than ever before to get your business.

Black Friday – the day-after-Thanksgiving traditional start of the holiday shopping season – is turning into Black Thursday as more stores open at midnight or even earlier Thanksgiving evening.. . . more

Walmart toy prices lowest in survey

Walmart Stores Inc. widened its pricing gap for toys over Target Corp. and Inc. as Black Friday approaches, according to analysis by Bloomberg Industries.

Online prices for a group of more than 100 toys, including such items as Let's Rock Elmo, were 4.7 percent higher at Target and 4.6 percent more expensive at Amazon, according to a survey taken Wednesday. Walmart was also cheaper than Toys R Us Inc. and Kmart.. . . more

Ann Taylor profit up 33.4%; same-store sales up 5.5%

Ann Inc., formerly known as Ann Taylor, reported a 33.4% rise in quarterly net income to $32.3 million, beating analysts’ estimates.

The company’s performance was boosted by strong demand for its Loft brand, where same-store sales rose 7.9%. Same-store sales rose 2.5% at Ann Taylor. Comp-sales were up 45.8% in the Ann Taylor e-commerce channel and 1.8% in the Ann Taylor Factory channel. Total same-store sales were up 5.5%.. . . more

Torrid to Expand to Strip-Mall Locations

For Hot Topic Inc.'s Torrid division, the future is in strip malls.

The City of Industry, Calif.–based mall retailer announced Nov. 16 that it will open more than 20 plus-size fashion Torrid stores in 2012, and many of them will be located in strip centers rather than traditional malls.
. . . more

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sears, Kmart felled by tightfisted Lampert

Yesterday, the two aging retail chains reported a wider-than-expected quarterly loss of $421 million — nearly twice as steep as a year ago — fueling a sharp drop in the company’s once-healthy cash reserves.

Sears blamed steep markdowns across its stores on clothing, electronics, home goods and appliances. Revenue in the quarter fell 1.2 percent — the company’s 19th straight quarterly revenue drop. The real culprit, critics charge, is the 49-year old hedgie’s stubborn refusal to spend money on updating stores.. . . more

Best Buy Ups Holiday Spending, Introduces 'Game On, Santa' Campaign

Best Buy is shaking up its approach to the holidays with a streamlined creative message and increased spending, particularly in the digital space.

Chief Marketing Officer Barry Judge said that the company's marketing spending around the holidays is up, despite a challenged first half for the retailer and a mixed outlook for the consumer-electronics category. Best Buy has reported declining sales at U.S. stores open at least 14 months for five consecutive quarters. And it is projecting same-store sales for its fiscal year will be flat to down 3%. Still, Mr. Judge and Drew Panayiotou, senior VP-U.S. marketing, said things are looking up.. . . more

E-commerce sales to grow to $46.7 billion for holiday 2011

E-commerce sales in the U.S. for the November and December holiday shopping season will rise 16.8% to $46.7 billion in 2011, up from $39.9 billion last year and representing a pace five times faster than total retail industry growth, according to eMarketer.

That means online sales growth will reach double digits for the third consecutive year, even though the economy remains shaky and consumers are keeping tight budgets.. . . more

Gap's Q3 profit plummets 36%

Gap Inc. reported Thursday that profit for the third quarter dropped 36% to $193 million, compared with $303 million a year earlier, as the retailer continued a deep discounting trend and encountered rising production costs.

Same-store sales overall dropped 5%, with Gap North America stores falling 6%, but just a 1% dip for Banana Republic stores in North America and 4% down for Old Navy. Same-store sales at the Gap banner have been dropped for the last six years in North America. . . . more

Copley tower OK’d

The Boston Redevelopment Authority board unanimously approved a $500 million expansion to upscale Copley Place last night despite opposition from some neighbors who staged an “Occupy the Mayor’s Office” protest against the project.

After hearing testimony from some 20 people on both sides, the BRA quickly OK’d plans by shopping-mall giant Simon Property Group to expand Copley Place’s existing shops and residences with a 47-story addition. The new space will have 318 condos and 115,000 square feet of additional retail space.. . . more

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mixed Signals

Using a favorite Yogi-ism, it seems that the retail industry is confronted with “déjà vu all over again.”

Most of us would agree that the worst of the retail cycle is behind us. But as we tread wearily through a very sluggish recovery, we are seeing a number of prominent (and some not so prominent) retailers announcing substantial store closings and even liquidations (some of which are reported in this month’s Industry News, and on our Retail RoundUp). . . more

Retailers’ results reflect economic divide

At Walmart, shoppers cut back on staples like milk and meat that had price increases of a few cents. At Saks Fifth Avenue, they paid full price for shoes and designer fashions at a rate higher than before the recession.

As several big chains reported third-quarter results on Tuesday, the divide between hard-pressed and prosperous Americans continued to be a defining characteristic of the retail economy.. . . more

More Americans to shop on Black Friday

Americans plan this year to go shopping in greater numbers on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year and unofficial kick-off the holiday spending season.

Some 152 million shoppers say they will hit stores on Nov. 25, the day after U.S. Thanksgiving, up 10.1 percent from 138 million people last year, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation, an industry group.
. . . more

Wal-Mart's Q3 sales up but profits slip 2.9%

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Tuesday posted the first quarterly revenue gain in its U.S. namesake business in more than two years, but the discounter's profit was down 2.9%. Profit for the quarter ended Oct. 31 was $3.33 billion.

Revenue overall rose 8.2% to $109.5 billion.  Most notably, the retailer recorded a 2.7% revenue rise in its U.S. Wal-Mart division, reversing nine consecutive quarters of sales declines. Sales at its Sam’s Club division rose 9.5%, and international sales surged 20.3%.

Same-store sales at Wal-Mart's U.S. namesake division rose 1.3%.. . . more

Sears reports wider loss in Q3

Sears Holdings Corp. reported Thursday that its loss widened in the third quarter on softness in its Canada division and on weaker consumer electronics sales.

The operator of Sears and Kmart recorded a loss of $421 million in the quarter ended Oct. 29, compared with a loss of $218 million a year earlier.. . . more

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Holiday sales to be lackluster, with online sales a bright spot

Holiday sales growth will lag behind last year’s robust gains as consumers hold back in an uncertain economy. The roughly 3% growth will be driven by high prices due to inflation, rather than any increase in demand, according to a new report by Moody's Investors Service.

"Consumer confidence is bruised by ongoing downbeat headlines, as well as potential gridlock ahead of the deficit-reduction plan expected on November 23, close to the traditional kickoff of the holiday shopping season, Black Friday," said Maggie Taylor, a Moody's VP and senior credit officer. "However, online spending will be the one bright spot as consumers, enticed by convenience and bargains will drive spending up by nearly 15% compared to last year.". . . more

Cheeseboy to open two new locations

Quick-serve grilled cheese purveyor Cheeseboy is continuing its expansion across the Northeast this month. The Boston-based franchise is set to open two new locations at the Natick Mall in Natick, Massachusetts and at the Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack, New York.

Cheeseboy, an eatery that specializes in made-to-order grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, opened its fourth store in July, in Boston’s Prudencial Center mall. Founded in 2009, the restaurant chain offers customers a variety of cheeses, breads and toppings... . . more

New York City world’s most expensive retail destination

A report released Tuesday by CBRE Group said that New York City remains the world’s most expensive shopping destination as retailers focus on the major fashion capitals.

New York’s Fifth Avenue remains the world’s most expensive shopping destination, with rents remaining constant at $1,900 per sq. ft. per annum. The CBRE survey of the world’s most expensive global retail cities saw little change in third quarter 2011 compared with the previous quarter. Hong Kong ($1,695 sq. ft. per annum) remained the second-most-expensive retail market, with annual rents in 2011 rising by 52.8%.. . . more

Daffy’s opens in Times Square

Off-price retailer Daffy's on Wednesday is opening a nineteenth location, in New York City’s Times Square.

The new 17,000-sq.-ft. store, located at 218 West 44th Street in the former New York Times building. . . . more

Target employee petitions store to close on Thanksgiving

Almost 100,000 people have signed a petition started by a Target employee in Nebraska that calls on the retail chain to cancel plans to open its store on Thanksgiving night.

Target says it is simply responding to customer demands. . . more

Target profit rises better-than-expected

No. 2 U.S. discounter Target Corp. reported a better-than-expected 3.7% increase in its third-quarter profit on Wednesday, helped by improved credit card segment profit and initiatives such as the Missoni for Target collection.

Third-quarter comparable-store sales rose 4.3%. Profit before interest expense and tax in the retail segment climbed 14.1%. Gross margin narrowed to 30.5% from 30.6%, beating analysts’ estimates. . . . more

October consumer prices fall, giving Fed more room

Consumer prices fell in October for the first time in four months, taking pressure off strapped households and giving the Federal Reserve more room to ease monetary policy if the economy falters.

But for now, growth is gaining traction and a separate report on Wednesday showed industrial output rebounded strongly last month as factories and mines ramped up production.. . . more

A project to change the retail landscape

Assembly Row’s developer plans to open dozens of outlet stores at the massive Somerville project, hoping to cater to Boston-area shoppers tired of trekking to the suburbs in search of bargains on popular brands.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New chain hopes to bring “fast food without the guilt” to the Hub

Energy Kitchen, a chain with ambitious expansion plans and a low-calorie menu, said it is looking to recruit franchisees who will open as many as 12 restaurants in the Greater Boston area over the next five years.

Currently, 11 Energy Kitchens are up and running in New York, New Jersey, and Florida, but with a menu that features no item with more than 500 calories --- think the Bison Burger and steamed vegetables --- the company believes that there is an appetite to open a thousand of its restaurants over the next decade.. . . more

J.C. Penney New CEO Johnson Reviews Products, Pricing Strategies

J.C. Penney Co. Chief Executive Officer Ron Johnson, who took over this month after running Apple Inc.’s retail operations, is reviewing products, pricing and promotional strategies to help revive sales.

“I’m not here to improve, I’m here to transform,” Johnson said he told employees on his first day on the job. “I’m investing considerable energy in a strategic review,” he said on a conference call today in his first public comments since starting on Nov. 1, adding he will provide further details at J.C. Penney’s investors’ meeting in January.. . . more

Deal reached on South Weymouth air base land

The developer building a mini-city on the former South Weymouth naval air base has finally reached a deal to buy the remaining 830 acres of the sprawling station from the Navy, allowing the next phase of construction to proceed at one of the state’s largest redevelopment projects.

LNR Property Corp. will sign the purchase agreement with the Navy today, agreeing to pay about $25 million for land that will complete its SouthField development, a planned community of 2,800 homes, 2 million square feet of stores and offices, a golf course, athletic fields, and other facilities.. . . more

Wrentham voters OK zoning changes near outlets

Voters at Monday's town meeting overwhelmingly backed rezoning the last remaining residential properties along South Street (Route 1A) near the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets to commercial.

The 42 acres involves 10 residential properties on the east side of South Street south of the outlet mall and Interstate 495 and stretches to the Plainville line. The proposal was from a petition article from the residents.. . . more

Massachusetts casino agreement reached: Here's what you need to know

A compromise proposal to legalize casinos in Massachusetts is expected to head to Gov. Deval Patrick’s desk today, after speedy House and Senate approval.

The bill will authorize three resort-style, full-scale casinos and one slots-only gambling parlor in Massachusetts.. . . more

Lowe's Q3 profit plummets 44% on store-closing charges

Lowe's Cos. reported Monday that net income for the quarter ended Oct. 28 dropped 44% as store-closing charges undercut a slight uptick in quarterly sales.

Sales increased 2.3% to $11.9 billion, up from $11.6 billion a year earlier. Same-store sales edged up 0.7%, reversing declines in two prior quarters.. . . more

A&P files reorganization plan

A&P's parent company reached an agreement on employee concessions and filed a reorganization plan Monday with the U.S. bankruptcy court.

A&P now operates 336 supermarkets in the Northeast, of which 120 are in New Jersey. The plan, first announced earlier this month, would allow Montvale-based Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. to emerge from bankruptcy in early 2012 as a private company, with $490 million in debt and equity financing from The Yucaipa Cos., Mount Kellett Capital Management LP and investment funds managed by Goldman Sachs Asset Management LP.. . . more

Retail sales: Consumers still spending

Consumers kept hitting the stores in October despite economic headwinds and higher gas prices that took a bite out of their wallets.

The Commerce Department reported that retail sales were up 0.5% compared to September. That was a bit better than the 0.4% rise economists surveyed by had forecast.. . . more

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sports Authority to replace Filene’s Basement in Arsenal Mall

The Sports Authority retail chain plans to open a 33,000-square-foot store in Watertown’s Arsenal Mall next spring and replace a Filene’s Basement store that is scheduled to close at the end of the year, said the mall’s operator, Simon Property Group.

Just over a week ago, the parent of Filene’s Basement announced plans for the chain to shut down in January, a victim of fierce competition and a tough economy.. . . more

Malls are morphing into one-stop shops

Malls are looking more and more like Main Street.

With retail spending gradually shifting to the Internet, the enclosed shopping centers best known for department stores, teen apparel chains and shoe shops are increasingly adding the kinds of services people usually find closer to home.

So instead of all-day spending sprees, consumers are showing up to drop off prescriptions, get their teeth whitened, have keys made or work out at the gym.. . . more

Uniqlo’s Yen for U.S. Sales Seen Turning American Eagle Japanese

Fast Retailing Co.’s goal to make Uniqlo the world’s largest clothing retailer is turning companies from American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (AEO) to Aeropostale Inc. into potential takeover targets.

Tadashi Yanai, the 62-year-old billionaire and chief executive officer of Yamaguchi, Japan-based Fast Retailing, said in an interview this month he’s seeking acquisitions to expand in the U.S. beyond its three Uniqlo stores in New York and boost global sales sixfold to more than $60 billion within the decade.. . . more

Walgreen changing foundation of its beauty counters

Walgreen Co. is rolling out upscale beauty boutiques inside select drugstores in a bid to attract more women and boost sales outside of the pharmacy — the first step in replicating the merchandising acumen of recently acquired Duane Reade.

The in-store beauty concept, called Look Boutique, first opened two years ago at a Duane Reade drugstore in Manhattan. The in-store shop resembles a scaled-down Sephora with white display cases, modern fixtures and beauty advisers schooled in scores of lesser-known but higher-end cosmetic and skin-care lines.. . . more

Lampert Fix for Sears Not Your Parent’s Department Store

Edward Lampert is remaking Sears Holdings Corp. to be quite unlike the department store Americans have known since 1893.

Billionaire chairman Lampert is lessening his company’s dependence on full-size locations, where sales have fallen. In his latest attempt to turn around the largest U.S. chain of its kind, Lampert is turning to smaller store formats, Web sales and the lure of its brands to re-ignite growth.. . . more

Friday, November 11, 2011

Christopher & Banks to close 100 stores over next three months

Christopher & Banks Corp. announced Friday that it will close about 100 underperforming stores over the next three months, as part of a restructuring plan that also includes format consolidations and workforce reductions.

The women’s apparel retailer said it plans to complete most of the store closings by the end of January 2012, and will accelerate plans to convert or consolidate a number of its existing Christopher & Banks and CJ Banks stores into dual-format stores. . . . more