Thursday, May 31, 2012

U.S. retailers report strong May same-store sales

Many U.S. retailers reported stronger-than-expected sales for May as bargains helped shoppers overcome growing anxiety about the economy and the job market.

Many analysts had warned that May sales might suffer because an unusually warm spring in much of the country prompted many shoppers to make clothing purchases earlier.

But retailers got a boost this month from bargains as well as a later Mother's Day -- this year it fell on May 13, five days later than last year.. . . more

How to leverage mobile to combat showrooming

While the growth in smartphone penetration has made it easier for shoppers to compare prices among competing retailers while in-store, mobile devices can also offer a solution for merchants looking to combat showrooming and make sure they close the sale.

Retailers are increasingly concerned about the practice of showrooming, or using a bricks-and-mortar store to investigate an item and then making a purchase from another retailer after finding the best price online.. . . more

Ackman on J.C. Penney: Wait until August

William Ackman, founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, said that J.C. Penney Co. should start to see “real progress” in early 2013. Ackman made his comments in an interview Tuesday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” Pershing Square owns about 18% of J.C. Penney.

Ackman, who has been steadfast in his support of CEO Ron Johnson’s ambitious reinvention of the chain, said that changes will start to become noticeable in Penney stores in August when new merchandise begins to make its way onto the sales floor.. . . more

CVS plan hits a new snag in Newburyport

The controversial plan to rezone a small part of Storey Avenue to permit construction of a pharmacy and bank branch has been defeated by the City Council in a "procedural" vote.
The council's action Tuesday night appears to have rendered the project comatose, but not dead.
City officials say Tropic Star Development LLC, which proposed development there, can move forward on developing land in the area that it does control. But it must offer a different plan than the one that has been discussed in various municipal chambers for almost a year.. . . more

TJX: May same-store sales rose 8 percent

TJX Cos., the Framingham company that operates such off-price retail chains as T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods, said in a Thursday press release that its same-store sales rose 8 percent in May when compared to sales in the same month a year ago.

“With above-plan sales in May, we now expect second quarter earnings per share to be at the high end of our previously estimated range of $.47-$.50,” TJX chief executive Carol Meyrowitz said in a statement.. . . more

Talbots to be acquired by Sycamore Partners

Talbots Inc., a clothing brand known for classically styled apparel for middle-age women, has agreed to be acquired by an affiliate of the private equity firm Sycamore Partners, the two companies said Thursday.

Talbots has been negotiating with Sycamore Partners for some time. And last week it seemed as if the two sides would be unable to close a deal.. . . more

Moderate growth, then slowdown, projected for Mass., New England economy

Massachusetts’ economy, which has weathered the recession and its aftermath better than the nation, will continue to grow, but at a slow to moderate pace through 2016, according to a new forecast by the New England Economic Partnership.

Employment will expand moderately over the next few years, but slow in 2016 as retiring baby boomers leave the labor force, according to the forecast. Massachusetts is projected to add 30,000 to 40,000 jobs a year in 2012 and 2013, an annual employment growth rate of about 1 percent.. . . more

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Macy's May sales figure rises 4.2 percent

Department-store operator Macy's Inc. said Wednesday that revenue at stores open at least a year increased 4.2 percent in May, boosted by strong online sales and improvement across regions.

The news came a day before most other retailers report their sales figures for the month of May. Department stores suffered during the recession as consumers traded down to cheaper options. But Macy's has revamped its offerings, and results have improved.. . . more

JoS A Bank 1Q profit falls on weaker sales trends

JoS. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. said Wednesday that its fiscal first-quarter net income dropped 17 percent as sales in established stores fell and expenses rose.

Revenue rose 4 percent to $201.4 million from $193.3 million while revenue at stores open at least a year fell 1 percent.. . . more

Pep Boys Terminates Sale to Private Equity Firm

Pep Boys said late Tuesday that it had agreed to end its proposed $1 billion sale to the Gores Group, after the private equity firm raised concerns about the company’s deteriorating financial health.

Under the terms of the agreement, Gores will pay Pep Boys, the auto parts and repair company, a $50 million reverse termination fee and reimburse some deal-related expenses... . . more

Ackman: JCPenney Sales Have Hit 'Bottom'

Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman remains steadfast in his belief that his investment in JCPenney will pay off, and says he has the patience to wait out the company's turnaround under new CEO Ron Johnson.

In an interview Tuesday with CNBC's "Squawk Box," Ackman said JCPenney has the right management and the right strategy in place.. . . more

Wal-Mart takes aim at Best Buy with ads

Best Buy Co. Inc.'s plans to close 50 big-box stores by the end of the year is creating, at least temporarily, a consumer electronics hole that Wal-Mart is eager to fill.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant has taken out full-page newspaper ads, including in the Star Tribune, urging shoppers to patronize Wal-Mart stores in markets where Best Buy stores will soon shut down.. . . more

Fresh Market Q1 profit soars 43%; on track to open up to 16 stores in 2012

Fresh Market reported Wednesday that profit for the first quarter climbed 43% to $19.3 million, from $13.5 million in the year-ago period.

For fiscal 2012, the company said it expects to open 14 to 16 new stores, as well as relocate one store and remodel two.. . . more

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ashley to open 50 sleep shops this year, first of 'several thousand'

Ashley Furniture Inds. is getting into the sleep shop business in a big way. The fast-growing manufacturer and retailer is planning to open about 50 sleep shops under the banner of Zzz's By Ashley this year, with many more to follow in the years to come.

"I think we can open several thousand in the next 10 years," said Ben Thorud, the Ashley executive who is heading the new sleep shop program. . . more

John Standley appointed chairman of Rite Aid

Rite Aid has appointed president and CEO John Standley as chairman, the retail pharmacy chain said Friday.

Rite Aid announced that its board of directors had elected Standley to replace current chairman Mary Sammons, effective June 21. Sammons has served as chairman since June 2007 and plans to step down at the company's annual stockholder meeting.. . . more

No 'courtesy' for Wegmans

Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki Almond faces the kind of decision that makes a job like hers tough. She is being asked whether to allow the rezoning of an empty industrial site in Owings Mills to allow a major retail development anchored by a Wegmans. Depending on which of the hundreds of phone calls, letters and emails she listens to, saying yes would either spark the long-awaited flowering of the less successful of the county's two designated growth areas or condemn Owings Mills to a paradoxical fate — clogged with traffic and empty stores, the suburban equivalent of Yogi Berra's complaint about a restaurant: "Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded.". . . more

Revenues, earnings soar at Neiman Marcus

Neiman Marcus reported total revenues of $1.06 billion for the third quarter compared with $983.8 million in the prior year. Comparable revenues increased 6.7%. Operating earnings for the third quarter of fiscal year 2012 were $146.6 million compared with $123.2 million for the third quarter of fiscal year 2011, an increase of 19%.

The company reported net earnings of $62.6 million for the third quarter compared with $46.2 million in the prior year, an increase of 35%.. . . more

Investor files lawsuit against Charming Shoppes sale to Ascena

An investor in Charming Shoppes shares filed a lawsuit against members of the board of directors of Charming Shoppes, Inc. in effort to stop the proposed sale of Charming Shoppes, Inc. to Ascena Retail Group at $7.35 per Charming Shoppes share.

The plaintiff alleges that the defendants breached their fiduciary duties owed to
Charming Shoppes investors arising out of the attempt to sell the company too cheaply via an unfair process.. . . more

Walmart Said It Plans to Roll Out More Smaller Stores

PHOTO: Michael Hall, Walmart Express customer service, helps Marian Faulkner with her bags at the new Walmart Express in Snow Hill, N.C.Walmart, which has arguably mastered the art of the giant big-box retail store, said it plans to roll out smaller stores throughout the U.S.

Walmart Express stores range from 12,000 to 15,000 square feet, significantly smaller than the 624 Walmart Discount stores, which average 108,000 square feet and employ about 225 people. There are an additional 3,029 Walmart Supercenters, which are even larger, and include specialty centers for vision and car repair.. . . more

Consumer sentiment at highest level since fall 2007

Consumer confidence in May rose to the highest level since October 2007, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment. The index rose increased to 79.3 from 76.4 the prior month. 

Industry analysts said a decline in gas prices and an improving housing market is helping offset slower job growth and volatile stock prices.. . . more

Avenue Stores closing 96 stores as part of restructuring

Avenue Stores announced it has begun the process to close 96 stores over the next three months. The company previously announced plans to selectively close and consolidate stores in order to finalize a geographic footprint that maximizes profitability and sales growth potential.

Upon completion of the closures, the company will continue to operate more than 300 stores in 34 states, and offer online shopping,. . . more

Friday, May 25, 2012

PayPal lines up 15 retailers for mobile payments

Home Depot customers have been able to use PayPal in-store since earlier this year.PayPal unveiled deals with 15 retailers including Toys R Us, J.C. Penney and Barnes & Noble as the online payment giant expands into more physical stores.

The deals add to a pact with Home Depot, which began accepting PayPal in about 2000 stores this year.. . . more

Talbots, Sycamore fail to reach deal on acquisition

Talbots Inc., a women’s clothing retailer known for classic styles, said it failed to reach an agreement to be acquired by Sycamore Partners for $215 million within its exclusivity period.

Sycamore, New York-based private equity firm, isn’t prepared to make a transaction at this time, Hingham-based Talbots said in a statement. The most recent offer was for $3.05 a share.. . . more

Williams-Sonoma Q1 earnings slip, raises outlook

Williams-Sonoma Inc. reported Thursday that first-quarter profit dipped to $30.7 million, from $31.6 million last year, but results topped Wall Street estimates and the retailer has raised its full-year earnings forecast.

Sales increased 6% to $817.6 million, also surpassing analysts’ estimates of $811.7 million. Same-store sales grew 5.4% overall, driven by strength from Pottery Barn (up 9.1%) and West Elm (up 22.1%).. . . more

RECon 2012: Platform for talk of recovery

As retailers and shopping center executives returned to their respective home bases following their biggest show of the year – RECon – they did so with talk of recovery echoing in their ears.

This year’s event – the International Council of Shopping Centers’ RECon convention, held May 20-23 in Las Vegas – was a platform for discussions about expansion and freer capital, albeit tempered by what industry experts are calling a new discipline in the way we all do business.. . . more

Why the Recovery Doesn’t Feel Like a Recovery

Economic and financial experts who addressed the Counselors of Real Estate midyear conference said it’s no surprise the economic recovery doesn’t feel like one.

“We’re coming back from a much deeper hole ... it’s a slower recovery than we’ve ever seen,” Lynn Thurber, chairman of LaSalle Investment Management, told the organization’s members, who are all top-level executives in commercial real estate. “You can’t compare it to a ‘typical’ recession, such as those we endured in the past four decades.”. . . more

Merrimack Premium Outlets grand opening in 3 weeks

With the Merrimack Premium Outlets’ grand-opening celebration now less than three weeks away, the finishing touches are being put on the shopping center.

Still, construction remains very much active on the site, which is off Exit 10 of the F.E. Everett Turnpike.. . . more

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Southern New Hampshire KeyPoint Report Preview

The KeyPoint Report on retail real estate in Southern New Hampshire will be available soon at Below are highlights from the findings in this year’s report:

Total retail supply in Southern New Hampshire showed a modest gain to 28.9 million square feet, increasing by 77,000 square feet, or 0.3%, from last year. After reporting a rebound in the vacancy trend last year, when the amount of unoccupied space was reduced by a significant 15% and the vacancy rate decreased from 11.4% to 9.5%, the region reverted to the ways of the recent past, with the vacancy rate increasing to 10.6%. . . more

JC Penney's Mistake? Assuming the Consumer Is Rational

Most of Us Prefer to Get a 'Bargain' Than Pay the True, Lower Price

JC Penney's desire to give more integrity to pricing -- eliminating the traditional retail game of inflating suggested retail prices so that they can be quickly discounted -- is admirable. And it makes logical, rational sense. For instance, a rational person would rather buy a $7 T-shirt for $7 than that very same T-shirt, typically listed at $12.99, marked down to $7.99 (almost a dollar more that the new price). But Penney's customers aren't buying more T-shirts, or the new pricing strategy. Johnson reported that his customers are making fewer visits and fewer purchases.  . . . more

Aspirational luxury buyer all but gone, claims industry expert

The aspirational/symbolic buyers that most luxury marketers are chasing have all but disappeared in this economy, according to one of the leading luminaries in the luxury marketing world.

While the upper-echelons of the wealthy have not drastically pulled back their spending amid the Euro crisis and weak U.S. market, those earning between $150,000 and $400,000 per year largely disappeared as luxury consumers, claims Greg Furman, founder and chairman of The Luxury Market Council.. . . more

Costco profit rises 19% in Q3, on track to open stores this year

Costco Wholesale Corp. reported Thursday that net income for the quarter ended May 6 surged 19% to $386 million, from $324 million in the same period last year. Same-store sales increased 5%.

 The company said it plans to open six additional warehouse clubs before the end of fiscal 2012.. . . more

7-Eleven to add 630 stores in 2012

7-Eleven Inc. said that it plans to add 630 new stores in the United States and Canada by yearend. In 2011, the chain added some 600 locations, with the stores either built, acquired or transitioned from another business to the 7-Eleven banner

“7-Eleven's U.S. growth strategy includes building greater market presence and adding quality locations in metropolitan areas where the company already has stores as a means to increase efficiencies and leverage the company's scale and daily-delivery infrastructure," said 7-Eleven president and CEO Joe DePinto in a statement.. . . more

Retailers investing in technology, opening stores and updating existing units

Retail companies are more able and willing to reinvest in their businesses, as evidenced by sharp increases in 2012 capital expenditure budgets, according to a new white paper released by Colliers International.

The report, “On the Road Again: What’s Driving Retail Real Estate’s Recovery and Who’s Getting There First,” finds that technology improvements are focused on improving and integrating all sales channels: brick-and-mortar, online, mobile and catalog operations. Retailers are also investing in opening new stores, upgrading existing locations and experimenting with smaller prototypes.. . . more

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

US Retail Fares the Best Globally

It might seem like we’re going through some tough times in the retail real estate industry, but it could be much worse compared with what the industry faces globally. London-based John Strachan, head of global retail at Cushman & Wakefield told us that things in the US are performing better than the rest of the globe.

“You guys are feeling a lot better about yourselves than a year ago,” he told us. “The sense from Europe is that America is doing better.”. . . more

Hot Harry’s restaurant chain plans Boston franchise

Hot Harry’s Fresh Burritos, a fast-casual Mexican restaurant and catering franchise, will open its ninth location, this one in Boston. The Schenectady, N.Y., Hot Harry’s, at 1625 Union St., is headquarters for the company’s franchise division. . . more

Talbots extends talks with Sycamore Partners about buyout offer again

Talbots Inc. is extending for a second time its talks with Sycamore Partners about an acquisition offer, the retailer said Wednesday.

Talbots says it has extended the period of time during which it will talk solely with the private equity firm about its $211 million takeover offer until Thursday.. . . more

American Eagle's earnings rise 40 percent in Q1

American Eagle Outfitters on Wednesday reported a 40 percent increase in net income in the first quarter on higher revenue.

Comparable store sales were up 17 percent in the first quarter compared to a 7 percent drop a year ago. Online revenues were up 22 percent.. . . more

New owners have big plans for Lowell plaza

Several months ago, RD Management of New York purchased the 133,000-square-foot section of the Meadow Brook Center shopping plaza adjacent to the Target on Plain Street for $6 million, with hopes of breathing new life into the complex.

The real-estate development and management company has wasted little time.

Construction has begun to prepare thousands of square feet of empty space for new commercial tenants, with businesses expecting to open their doors in late summer or early fall.. . . more

As U.S. Retailers Retreat, a Japanese Chain Sees an Opening

UNIQLOMany American retailers are cutting back at shopping malls. Chains like Gap Inc., Abercrombie & Fitch, Coldwater Creek and Talbot’s say they have too many stores at too many malls. Hundreds of stores are on the chopping block.

Now, that pain is being seen as an opportunity — for some foreign retailers. Uniqlo, the Japanese basics brand, is starting aggressive growth plans at shopping malls that are expected to include 20 to 30 new stores a year over the next eight years. . . . more

Major pension fund to vote against Wal-Mart board

The second largest public pension fund said on Tuesday it plans to vote all of its Wal-Mart Stores Inc shares against the entire board in the wake of bribery allegations in Mexico that Wal-Mart officials failed to fully investigate.

CalSTRS plans to vote its 5.3 million Wal-Mart shares against the re-election of all board members and encouraged other shareholders to do the same.. . . more

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Adelson won’t seek a casino in Mass.

Deterred by state’s plan for multiple facilities

The worldwide casino company run by billionaire Boston native Sheldon Adelson will bypass the chance to build a casino in Massachusetts, saying the state’s plan to license up to three casinos and a slot parlor is going to dilute the market, according to a spokesman.

Stephen Crosby, chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, said the panel is thinking carefully about how much casino gambling the Massachusetts market can handle. The commission will tackle the question at a forum it is hosting in June.. . . more

A Word Of Advice For J.C. Penney's CEO, Ron Johnson

J.C. Penney faced great expectations when Ron Johnson, architect of the Apple Stores after spending 16 years at Target, took the helm. However, Johnson's ambitious plans for JCP did not come to fruition. The company missed earnings, saw an 18% decline in same store sales, discontinued its dividend and saw its margins squeezed. Johnson sounded upbeat, which made people wonder if he had delusions of grandeur. . . . more

Belly up to barber, shops for rewards

With at least 40 local shops and eateries already on board, Belly is filling up in Boston. Launched in August 2011, the Chicago-based company works one-on-one with small- and medium-sized businesses on offering rewards programs tailored to their specific brands and styles, all to keep customers coming back for more. . . more

‘Filene’s’ opens door to legendary department store

It fell six years short of its 100th anniversary, but Boston’s iconic department store Filene’s is still etched in the memory of veteran Hub shoppers.

Author Michael Lisicky gives props to the retail legend in “Filene’s” (Arcadia Publishing, $21.99), a photo-heavy flashback for the many generations who shopped, saw Santa or visited the zoo at the corner of Washington and Winter streets. . . more

Best Buy profit falls; adjusted earnings top Street view

Best Buy Co. said Tuesday that its fiscal first-quarter profit dropped 26 percent on restructuring charges as the struggling electronics retailer began implementing its turnaround plan. 

Best Buy has been shrinking store size and focusing on its more profitable business in an effort to combat the so-called "showrooming" of its stores—when people browse at Best Buy but purchase electronics goods elsewhere. In April it announced a major restructuring that includes closing stores, cutting 400 jobs and trimming $800 million in costs.  . . . more

Retail Industry Is Optimistic, But Still Wary

Cautious optimism is the predominant mood at the 2012 ICSC RECon, underway at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

“Retail is back. … Development is back,” says Daniel Mullinger, executive vice president and regional executive, PNC Real Estate. He says PNC’s transaction volume is ahead of its pace of last year and lenders that were on the sidelines over the last few years are back in the market, creating stronger competition. However, he adds, “Developers are more tentative. They’re telling us they need to have [leasing levels that] are higher than they were in the past. … We’ve had clients that said they want to be 70 percent or 80 percent leased before they start. That’s higher levels than [in] 2006 and 2007.”. . . more

American Eagle Outfitters to exit 77kids brand

American Eagle Outfitters is getting out of the children's business, announcing Friday that it is exploring a full or partial sale of 77kids, which includes 22 stores and the online business.

Robert Hanson, CEO of American Eagle Outfitters stated, “Although making this decision is disappointing, it is in the best interest of the company and our shareholders to prioritize and focus our efforts on businesses with the highest return potential. We thank the 77kids team for their hard work, passion and dedication.”. . . more

Cinema De Lux coming to Chestnut Hill

Artist rendering of the new Cinema de Lux to be built at the Chestnut Hill Shopping Center in Newton, Mass.Norwood, Mass.-based National Amusements plans to open Cinema de Lux at the Chestnut Hill Shopping Center in Newton, Mass. in March.

The six-screen complex will be built at the former 120,000-square-foot Macy’s site. Its lobby will also include a bar and lounge featuring specialty foods and cocktails. An unnamed 40,000-square-foot restaurant is also planned.. . . more

New restaurant and bar to open in Downtown Crossing

Avery Provision Co. and Sip Wine Bar & Kitchen are set to open next month at the Ritz Carlton Residences in Boston’s Downtown Crossing in the former Bina Osteria and Bina Alimentari space.

The 160-seat Sip Wine Bar & Kitchen will serve lunch, dinner, and offer a “light menu” for the theater crowd, according to owners Brad Dalbeck and Chris Damian.. . . more

Monday, May 21, 2012

Despite Shaky Start, JC Penney Stands Firm on Reinvention Plan

JC Penney lost $163 million in the first quarter. Sales skidded 20%; traffic slowed 10%; conversion and average customer spending both fell 5%.

Grim results indeed. But don't expect CEO Ron Johnson, President Michael Francis and the rest of the crew to throw in the towel on their retail-revolution plan just yet.. . . more

Economists more upbeat about job growth, housing

A new survey shows economists are growing slightly more optimistic about recovery in the job and housing markets but expect other pillars of the economy to remain weak.

The National Association for Business Economists says in a report issued Monday that its forecasters expect modest growth for the remainder of the year, with the pace picking up in 2013.. . . more

Subway plans 1,200 stores for 2012

Sandwich mega-chain Subway said Friday that it has set 2012 development goals of 1,200 North American locations.

Subway said it is exploring opportunities in traditional shopping centers, mall and freestanding locations as well as non-traditional venues such as hospitals, colleges, sports arenas and airports. . . . more

Lowe's 1Q profit up, but cuts 2012 profit outlook

Lowe's Cos.' first-quarter profit climbed 14 percent, as warmer weather helped boost sales. But the world's second-biggest home improvement company lowered its full-year earnings forecast today, saying it is still cautious on the housing market and economic conditions.

Like many retailers, Lowe's has continued to deal with consumers remaining cautious in spending on their homes as the housing slump and soft economic conditions continue. . . . more

Retail real estate’s biggest show kicks off

On Monday morning, RECon 2012, the International Council of Shopping Centers’ annual retail real estate convention in Las Vegas, kicks off with an expected 31,000+ attendees from around the globe.

Running through Wednesday, May 23, RECon will encompass three halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center – or over 1 million sq. ft. – with more than 1,000 companies exhibiting and highlights such as The Cities of the World Pavilion and a keynote presentation by Leslie H. Wexner, founder of Limited Brands.. . . more

Neighbors: No more banks on Charles Street

“The proliferation of large banks that would replace the small mom-and-pop stores threatens to erode the character of Charles Street,” said Boston City Councilor Michael Ross. “For banks to occupy a 50-foot storefront, shut down at 5 p.m. and be closed on weekends creates dead space. We’re talking about a commercial business district that is thriving and it needs to be protected."

Under Ross’ plan, banks would need Zoning Board of Appeals approval to open new branches on Charles Street.. . . more

Friday, May 18, 2012

Consumer Spending Lags Economic Uptick

The economy may be showing signs of life, but consumer spending on all but the essentials is still lagging.

According to a new survey conducted by Empathica Inc., (a provider of customer experience management programs) of more than 6,500 U.S. consumers, many plan to cut spending across every discretionary spending category, while maintaining spending on essentials such as gas, groceries and pharmaceuticals.. . . more

Tenant Incubators Take Off as Landlords Try to Fill Small Shop Space

During the worst of the downturn, some retail property owners and managers filled up vacant spaces by renting them out for free to start-up entrepreneurs operating the kinds of unproven businesses landlords would never consider when times were booming. The good news for small shop retailers is that the practice seems here to stay, with two of the country’s largest shopping center landlords launching full-scale tenant incubator programs in recent months.. . . more

Lifestyle Centers Launch a Comeback

One of the most maligned retail formats of the past decade might be coming back in vogue, as investors begin considering acquisitions of lifestyle centers.

Lifestyle centers, a concept whose development exploded in the early and mid-2000s, bore much of the brunt of the recession, as many were built in developing areas, featured no anchors and relied on elaborate co-tenancy agreements that  brought vacancy sky high when retail chains started closing down in 2008 and 2009.. . . more

Foot Locker profit surges 36% on strong sales

Foot Locker's first-quarter profit rose 36%, exceeding Wall Street predictions. For the quarter ended April 28, the company earned $128 million, up from $94 million in the same quarter last year. Sales rose 8.7% to $1.58 billion from $1.45 billion. Same-store sales increased 9.7%.

Foot Locker opened 25 new stores and closed 34 others during the quarter, bringing its store base to 3,360 in 23 countries as of April 23.. . . more

Loft sales help lift Ann Inc. profit 5%; 65 stores on tap for fiscal 2012

Ann Inc.'s fiscal first-quarter net income increased a better-than-expected 5%, boosted by growing sales at its Loft division. Revenue grew 7% to $560.4 million from $523.6 million. Same-store sales rose 3.8%. Same-store sales rose 11.3% at Loft stores, outlets and the brand's website. But they were down 6.9% at Ann Taylor, where revenue slid 15.5%.

At the end of the quarter, Ann had 947 stores. The company said it expects to open 65 stores this year, but it plans to downsize Ann Taylor stores and close 30 locations. It expects to have approximately 985 stores at fiscal year-end.. . . more

Cambridge office/retail buiding sells for $40M

Samuels Property Group has purchased 625 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge, Mass. for $40.1 million.

The 122,104-square-foot mixed-use office/retail building in Central Square is fully occupied with a mix of office and retail tenants including, Walgreens, TD Bank, Boston Sports Club and Harmonix Music System.. . . more

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Restoration Hardware Has Designs on the Restaurant Biz

Oh Pottery Barn, aren't you sorry you didn't think of it first? Restoration Hardware has announced that it's branching out into the restaurant game, and its first location will be in Boston's Back Bay, a neighborhood known for swanky shops a lot like ... Restoration Hardware. Naturally, d├ęcor won't be an issue.

The restaurant will be outfitted with Restoration Hardware products (obvs), because, as every chef learns at culinary school, fancy bath accessories make everything taste better. The eatery will also boast two gas fireplaces and a "basement-level addition designed in the style of 19th-century conservatory annexes."Swanky!. . . more

GameStop 1Q Profit Slumps as Game Demand Softens Read more:

GameStop reported a lower first-quarter profit and sales and provided a tepid look for the current quarter as it continues to cope with soft demand for video-game hardware and software.

Grapevine, Texas-based Gamestop expects comparable store sales to fall 11% to 5% in the current quarter and a 5% decline to flat for the entire year.. . . more

Sears to spin off piece of Canada stake

Sears Holdings Corp said on Thursday it plans to spin off a large part of its stake in its Canada unit, which has struggled with weak sales and dragged down overall performance.

On Wednesday, Sears Canada reported sales at stores open at least a year -- a key measure for retailers -- fell 6.3 percent, a far steeper drop than the combine 1.3 percent decline at its U.S. stores and Kmart discount chain.. . . more

Memorial Day sales to be biggest ever; retailers who open early to win big

The number of Americans delaying their shopping to Memorial Day Weekend is at an all-time high, according to findings in two reports by America's Research Group Surveys. The reports find that shoppers will approach Memorial Day in keeping with a growing trend: holding off on shopping until "big" holiday weekends.

According to ARG chairman Britt Beemer, not only are Americans are making a weekend that was once thought of as the 'start of summer' into one that is akin to Black Friday -- a time to clip coupons, look for sales and shop. . . . more

J.C. Penney to roll out several new brands; open 20,000-sq.-ft. in-store home shop

J.C. Penney said it would launch a new private label apparel brand, jcp, for both men and women. The brand is set to debut in August.

In addition, J.C. Penney said it will debut several brands in the fall, including a line for young girls, called Dream Pop by Cynthia R. It also will roll out branded collections from designers Betsey Johnson, Vivienne Tam and Lulu Guiness. J.C. Penney is also looking to expand such brands as Puma and Nike, and rebuild its St. John's Bay, Worthington and Stafford brands.

In other plans, the retailer in the first half of 2013 will launch a 20,000-sq.-ft. home department, which will be anchored by the Martha Stewart shop, according to Advertising Age.. . . more