Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chestnut Hill to add 3 restaurants

The Mall at Chestnut Hill wants to expand its footprint so it can fit in three new restaurants and spiff up the front of the upscale shopping center.

Owner Simon Property Group’s plans come amid a flurry of competing Route 9 retail developments taking shape around the mall.

“They’re looking for flexibility to turn some retail space to restaurant space and slightly bump out the facade for these new potential tenants,” said Alexandra Ananth, a Newton senior city planner. “It’s sort of in response to improving their visibility on Route 9.”. . . more

Restaurants feel impact of Hurricane Sandy

East Coast restaurants are dealing with the impact of Hurricane Sandy, the 1,000-mile-wide pre-Halloween storm that pushed into the densely populated Northeast on Monday with gale-force winds, sea surges, flooding from torrential rains and ensuing power outages.

Operators from Massachusetts to Virginia braced for the worst, with many closing or limiting hours as the so-called “Frankenstorm” spun leftward out of the Atlantic and onto land.. . . more

Hints Of An OfficeMax Rebound

OfficeMax, like many businesses in retail, was lulled into overbuilding by the consumer and housing boom. Like many in the retail space, it is downsizing and leaving unprofitable locations. And, further, like many in the retail space, its downsizing effort has been limited by its operating leases.

While the company has recently been reporting better news, the shares still languish, and the extremely slim profit margin is making the company sell at a low price-to-sales ratio. . . more

Wal-Mart to sell Boxee devices that combine web, live TV

In a coup for New York-based startup Boxee Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will sell and promote its new Web-connected device that brings live television and online video together, the companies said.

Starting Nov. 1, the world’s biggest retailer will exclusively sell the new $98 product, called Boxee TV, in more than 3,000 U.S. locations during the holiday season. Wal-Mart will set up displays and send out marketing materials for the device, a small black box with a remote control that can access free TV broadcast channels as well as Internet content.. . . more

Microsoft Pop-Up Stores Vs. Apple Stores

As part of its Windows 8 kickoff, Microsoft has opened more than 30 "pop-up" stores across the United States. Eschewing walls and confined spaces, these would-be retail hotspots are essentially mall kiosks on steroids. They're situated in the open, just like the fingernail accessory vendors and carts full of cellphone accessories or novelty license plate frames. But, with a large series of tabletops showing off the long-awaited Surface tablet, a team of attentive staffers engaging customers and a tower emblazoned with the company's logo, the Microsoft installations, to say the least, stand out from the crowd. . . . more

LaVida Massage to open 13 centers before year’s end

Health and wellness retailer LaVida Massage said Tuesday it will have opened at least 13 new franchised units before the end of 2012. Another eight are slated to open in early 2013.

The new centers are located in California, Georgia, Illinois (2), Michigan (3), New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.. . . more

Stonewall Kitchen opens store in Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua

Stonewall Kitchen, a food manufacturer and retailer of kitchenware, has opened its 10th company store in the Pheasant Lane Mall.

The York, Maine-based company store will have a grand opening Saturday and Sunday .. . . more

Walgreens launches recovery efforts, 500+ stores still closed

Walgreens said Tuesday that it is beginning its recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The retailer said that it is working to provide its stores with what they need to again serve customers in areas impacted by the storm.

By noon ET on Tuesday, the number of Walgreens stores closed dropped to 530 with more re-opening by the hour, from a peak of about 750 stores closed during the height of the storm.. . . more

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Survival of the Fittest Starts to Play Out in Office Supplies Sector

Now that Darwinian theory has played out in the book, electronics and home goods retail sectors, the office supplies chains may be next. Staples’ recent announcement that it plans to close up to 290 of its North American stores has been the most visible sign of things to come. But in private conversations many people in the retail real estate industry have begun questioning the futures of Office Depot and OfficeMax.

Unlike in other big-box sectors, competition is only one of the challenges threatening office supplies sellers, notes Doug Stephens, president of Retail Prophet, a consulting firm.. . . more

Are Costco's Growth Days Over?

Costco has a whopping 66.5 million members -- which is impressive, but membership has reached a level where analysts believe it could hit a wall. This is a key concern because membership fees have a big effect on already thin operating margins, even though these fees account for a relatively small amount of revenue (about $2 billion of the $99.1 billion Costco currently generates each year).

If the pace of new membership slows, then it stands to reason revenue growth could drop, too -- and that's just what analysts predict. . . . more

Cerberus Working on Bid for Supervalu

U.S. buyout firm Cerberus Capital Management LP is working with a group of real estate firms on a possible bid for supermarket chain Supervalu Inc , the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Supervalu is considering a sale after losing customers to competitors like Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Kroger Co , which has caused the company to close stores and cut costs. The chain is struggling with $6 billion in long term debt and pension liabilities.. . . more

Retailers hit hard by superstorm, economy expected to rebound

While it may be days, even weeks, before the full extent of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy is known, economists are forecasting that retail sales will be impacted in October and November but that the economy overall will experience an uptick.

Retailers across all categories closed stores on Monday as Sandy made its approach. Wal-Mart, for example, had closed 33 stores as of 11:45 a.m. ET on Monday, according to a Wall Street Journal report, with most of those stores located in Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut and New Jersey. Target had closed 12 stores by Monday morning and told WSJ it would likely close additional stores throughout the day and into Tuesday and Wednesday.. . . more

Tom Werner blazes new pizza path

Shriver are backing the Blaze Pizza...Investors including Red Sox chairman Tom Werner and Maria Shriver are backing a new California chain serving “fast-fire’d” thin-crusted pizza in under two minutes for less than $7.

Blaze Pizza, which plans to franchise nationally including in Boston, uses an assembly-line approach, pressing out the dough for each customer and allowing them to pick a signature pizza or their own toppings before the 11-inch pies are cooked in open-hearth ovens of 800-plus degrees.. . . more

US consumer spending rose 0.8 percent in September

Americans increased their spending in September at twice the rate that their income grew, a sign of confidence in the economy. Still, consumers made up the difference by saving less for a third straight month, a troubling trend.

The Commerce Department said Monday that consumer spending increased 0.8 percent in September from August. That followed a 0.5 percent gain in August and was the best showing since February.. . . more

Monday, October 29, 2012

L.L. Bean Store to Close in May

The L.L. Bean store at the Mall in Columbia will close on May 31, according to a store manager who spoke with Patch on Wednesday evening.

L.L. Bean had previously asked to downsize their location, which caused General Growth Properties, the mall’s operators, to propose a plan, now approved by the Howard County Planning Board, to add a new entrance to the mall, as well as 43,500 square feet of new retail space where the L.L. Bean store is currently.. . . more

Holiday shopping wars

Physical stores battle Web retailers for holiday-season shoppersThe battle is on between bricks-and-mortar retailers and their increasingly potent Internet adversaries.

Frustrated by once-loyal customers who have been wooed away by online merchants, retailers are gearing up with new weapons to stop the continuous flow of shoppers from stores to computers and smartphones.. . . more

Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index Rose to 82.6 in October

Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index Increased to 82.6 in October Confidence among U.S. consumers rose in October from the prior month to the highest level since before the last recession began five years ago.

Lower gasoline prices, improving property values and a drop in unemployment may be helping to boost sentiment, brightening the outlook for household purchases. Consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, accelerated in the third quarter, another report showed. . . . more

Retailers such as Spanx, Uniqlo open stores

This holiday season, shoppers will be able to buy Spanx "shapewear" at the brand's new stores, Brookstone gadgets at other retailers, including Target, and Uniqlo clothing on the Japanese retailer's new website.

Retailers and brands are trying a variety of ways to expand. Most have learned from their own and others' overexpansion in the years before the recession. Many once-popular retailers have been closing stores, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Talbots and Coldwater Creek.. . . more

Bill Rodgers shop hits finish line

LOTS OF SOLE: Bill Rodgers Running...The Bill Rodgers Running Center, one of the first stores to open at the revitalized Faneuil Hall Marketplace in the late 1970s, is closing after a 35-year run.

Famed Boston Marathoner Bill Rodgers and his co-owner brother, Charlie Rodgers, will say goodbye to their final customers on Wednesday.. . . more

GE Capital Survey finds retail CFOs worried about economy and healthcare costs

Nearly half (49%) of retail CFOs expect their capital expenditures will increase in the next 12 months, a 19-point uptick that leads all industries, and 29% expect to consider additional financing for expenditures, also leading all industries. according to GE Capital’s latest semi-annual “U.S. Mid-Market CFO Survey.” 

At the same time, retail CFOs have the least positive sentiment across all industries on the current state of their industry, the U.S. economy and the global economy.. . . more

Sun & Ski to open second Bay State store

Snow sports retailer Sun & Ski will open its second Massachusetts store in Woburn, Mass. on Friday.

The 32-year-old adventure retailer, headquartered in Houston, Texas, is looking at Massachusetts as a four to five store market and hopes to fill the hole left by the demise of the Ski Market, a Wellesley-based chain that filed for bankruptcy two years ago.
. . . more

Friday, October 26, 2012

GameStop Kids stores opening in 80 locations, first one today

GameStop Kids stores opening in 80 locations, first one todayHoliday shoppers need to look no further for the perfect video game licensed present this season. GameStop Corp., the world's largest multichannel video game retailer, today unveiled a new store concept aimed at offering a unique and innovative shopping experience for the kid in all of us. Starting today, the company will begin the roll out of approximately 80 GameStop Kids holiday store locations in select malls throughout the U.S.. . . more

Build-A-Bear Workshop posts Q3 loss; to close 50 to 60 stores

Build-A-Bear Workshop reported a net loss of $4.3 million in its third quarter, compared with net income of $0.9 million a year ago, and said it would close 50 to 60 underperforming locations in the next two years in an effort to improve its profitability and reach its “optimal” count of 225 to 250 locations.

The company also said that sales from stores with its new interactive store design had exceeded its expectations, and this success would allow it to add elements or in some cases fully remodel its most productive stores. The retailer is on track to have six stores open in the new format by the end of fiscal 2012.. . . more

Revised plan for Milford casino to be presented by year’s end

Plans for a $650 million resort casino in Milford ­— that many thought was dead — will be revived, according to a town official.

A proposal to build a $650 million resort casino in Milford, Mass. ­— that many thought was dead — will be revived, according to a town official.

Louis J. Celozzi, Milford’s town administrator, said David Nunes will bring his proposal for "Crossroads," a 26-acre complex off I-495 featuring a casino, hotel, bars and restaurants, back before the Board of Selectmen by year’s end. Under the proposal, Nunes would purchase a 600-acre site near Cedar Street and build an access road from the highway to the casino. The complex would feature a 267,000-square-foot casino and a 250-room hotel with retail amenities.. . . more

Tilly’s coming to South Shore Plaza and Northshore Mall

Tilly’s, the west coast teen apparel specialty retailer, will open its first Bay State stores this fall at the South Shore Plaza and Northshore Mall, according to Simon Property Group, the malls’ owners.

The 12,415-sqaure-foot store at South Shore Plaza is scheduled to open in mid November on Level 2 in the Nordstrom wing, At the Northshore Mall, a smaller, 5,238-square-foot shop is slated to open in early December on Level 2 near Guest Services.. . . more

Whole Foods to replace Johnnie’s Foodmaster in six Greater Boston locations

Whole Foods Market  has an agreement to purchase six leases from Johnnie’s Foodmaster, the Chelsea, Mass.-based family-owned grocery chain.

The transaction, which includes the Johnnie’s stores in South Weymouth, Arlington, Charlestown, Brookline, Melrose and Somerville, is expected to close on Nov. 30. Johnnie’s plans to shutter the 31,000-square-foot stores in the six locations prior to the closing date. Johnnie’s will keep its Medford, Whitman, Lynn and Alewife store in Somerville open.. . . more

Troubled malls hit the market

Two major Boston-area shopping malls seized by their lenders during the economic downturn are finally hitting the market after creditors waited nearly a year for conditions to improve.

Mortgage servicer C-III Capital Partners this month hired brokerage firm Eastdil Secured to sell Taunton’s Silver City Galleria and Leominster’s Mall at Whitney Fields on behalf of the shopping centers’ lenders.. . . more

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Panera Bread Voted America’s Favorite Sandwich Chain

Panera Bread tops of the list of favorite sandwich chains, according to a national study from Market Force, a worldwide leader in customer intelligence solutions. Panera was voted America’s No. 1 sandwich chain in a restaurant industry survey of more than 7,600 consumers. Jason’s Deli and McAlister’s Deli were ranked second and third, followed by Firehouse Subs, Quiznos, Jimmy John’s, Arby’s and Subway.

Of the 14 major national and region sandwich/wrap chains studied, Subway garnered the most total votes, which can be credited to the fact that it’s one of the nation’s largest franchises. However, when viewed as a calculation of favorite votes per location, smaller chain Panera took the top spot among the top eight brands.. . . more

5 restaurant chains moving beyond mall food courts

There was a time when guests could walk into most American shopping mall food courts and find the usual lineup of brands represented — but that scene is now looking different in a post-recession climate.

Some malls are pushing out national restaurant chains to focus more on local and regional brands. At the same time, some traditional food court brands are seeing the lack of development of new malls as a sign that it’s time to go elsewhere.. . . more

Cerberus bid for Supervalu seen as prelude to breakup

Supervalu Inc., which has been trying to find a buyer, would prefer one that will take the entire company rather than just pieces. And it may have found one in Cerberus Capital Management — but a Supervalu breakup may be in the cards anyway.

That's the gist of a report from Reuters, which cites unnamed sources who say that Cerberus, which last week was rumored as a likely buyer of Eden Prairie-based Supervalu, would carve up Supervalu's business to other buyers interested in the pieces.. . . more

Cabela's says smaller store format boosted 3Q

Cabela's Inc. said Thursday that its net income rose 28 percent in the third quarter, which was in line with Wall Street expectations, as the outdoor sporting goods retailer's new, smaller store formats outperformed its more cavernous stores.

The company also noted that it plans to accelerate expansion as a result of the strong performance of its new stores. It also noted that all new locations going forward will follow the smaller, "next generation" format.. . . more
Shoppers are in a good mood heading into the holiday season, with the number of consumers planning to spend less on the holidays (37%) at the lowest level since 2006, according to Deloitte's 27th annual survey of holiday spending intentions and trends. One-half (50%) of consumers surveyed expect the economy will improve next year, up from just one-third (33%) heading into the holiday season last year.

"Consumers appear to be turning a corner and are more confident about the economy," said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP, and retail & distribution sector leader. "Recent improvements in housing, employment and the stock market may have buoyed their spirits, but their optimism is somewhat tempered as they keep an eye on energy costs and possible tax increases.” . . . more

Best Buy announces leadership changes and restructuring

Best Buy on Wednesday announced major changes to its leadership organization. The company is removing the senior-most layer of the U.S. operation is being removed; resulting in what it called “a leaner structure intended to improve the company’s agility.”

“One thing I have learned in helping turn companies around is that a business needs to have a nimble organization,” said Best Buy president and CEO Hubert Joly. “Our new organization will help build a closer connection to our customers and front line employees, as well as accelerate our transformation.”. . . more

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

CVS's move to Church St. in Braintree win an endorsement

The Ordinance and Rules Committee unanimously recommended rezoning an area on Church Street to facilitate the relocation of a CVS from South Quincy to North Braintree, sending the rezoning application to the full City Council for approval.

Representatives from CVS as well as attorneys representing owner Michael Shea attended Tuesday's committee meeting, spelling out the desire to transform 9,987 square feet of the 1.6-acre parcel of 90 Church St. from Residence C to General Business zoning.. . . more

Unhappy Holidays? Lackluster Season Expected for Several Shopping Categories

Studies from Deloitte, the National Retail Federation, and Booz & Co. all predict modest retail sales increases for the holiday period, with rises generally up in the vicinity of 3% or 4%. Online and mobile sales are expected to perform particularly well. But not every component of the retail sector can look forward to a jolly season ahead.

Here are a few areas, including some traditional holiday purchase staples, that are likely to underwhelm:. . . more

US new-home sales rise to highest in 2 1/2 years

AP PhotoU.S. sales of new homes jumped last month to the highest level in more than two years, further evidence of a sustained housing recovery that could help lift the lackluster economy.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that new home sales rose 5.7 percent in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 389,000. That's up from a rate of 368,000 in August and the highest rate since April 2010, when a federal homebuyer tax credit inflated sales.. . . more

Retail Development Picks Up Steam, Defying Low Expectations

In spite of retail developers’ predictions that new project pipelines won’t grow until 2014, it looks like the market will see a healthy amount of new construction next year. The CoStar Group, a Washington, D.C.-based research firm that tracks all types of retail properties, forecasts that new retail completions will total 52 million sq. ft. in 2013. The figure would constitute only a third of average annual completions for the 2006-2008 period, but will still be more than double the 20 million sq. ft. expected to be delivered in the current year.

Projections from researchers at Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services, a Calabasas, Calif.-based brokerage firm, are slightly more optimistic. They expect to see 60 million sq. ft. of new retail space delivered in 2013.. . . more

Bettie Page opens in Boston

Tatyana Designs opened its 10th Bettie Page store, on Newbury Street in Boston.

Bettie Page, which targets 18-35 year-old, fashion-conscious women, specializes in contemporary designs inspired by the 1950's and the iconic pin-up star Bettie Page.. . . more

RadioShack swings to big loss in Q3

RadioShack Corp. reported Tuesday a wider-than-expected loss of $47 million for the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with a profit of $300,000 for the same period last year. Sales dropped from $1.03 billion to $1.0 billion and same-store sales dropped 1.6%.

 “Overall, our business performed below expectations,” said Dorvin Lively, interim CEO. However, he said, going forward the focus will be on stabilizing profitability.. . . more

West Elm to launch new retail concept

Williams-Sonoma announced that its West Elm division will launch a neighborhood market format, called West Elm Market, on Oct. 25, in Brooklyn N.Y. The Brooklyn store will be followed by the opening of eight Market in-store shops in West Elm stores across the country.

The community-driven concept will offer customers a “total home toolkit ” in four categories: kitchen, garden, care & repair and personal care.. . . more

Hub to see commercial real estate recovery grow in 2013

Boston made the list of Top 10 U.S. cities where the commercial real estate recovery will soar next year with gains in leasing, rents and pricing across all property sectors, according to the Urban Land Institute’s Emerging Trends in Real Estate Forecast.

Despite a slower-than-normal real estate recovery, U.S. property sectors will register better prospects compared with last year, according to survey participants. Recent job creation should be enough to increase absorption and lower vacancy rates in the office, industrial, and retail sectors, helped by the limited new supply. . . . more

Stop & Shop to open Wayland store in November

Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. will open a store next month in Wayland, Mass.

The 45,000-square-foot store is smaller than the typical superstore the Quincy-based company has been building as they reduce their footprint to fit into smaller spaces.. . . more

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Buyout chatter sparks Supervalu

Supervalu's stock rebounded 45 percent Monday on reports that a private equity group is cobbling together a deal to buy the embattled supermarket chain.

Reuters reported that Cerberus Capital Management is working on a takeover bid for Eden Prairie-based Supervalu Inc., citing unnamed sources. Also, the Debtwire news service reported that Cerberus is trying to arrange $4 billion to $5 billion in debt financing to back a bid.. . . more

Walmart Supercenter opens after eight years in the making

New York City-based Brixmor Property Group said Walmart Supercenter at Liberty Plaza, in Randallstown (Baltimore), Md., grand-opened on Oct. 17 in 160,908 sq. ft.

Brixmor said that discussions with Walmart for the development of this supercenter began as early as 2004, as redevelopment efforts paved the way for the retailer.. . . more

Charter Realty acquires Towers Plaza

Charter Realty and Development Corp. said it has acquired the 52,000-sq.-ft. Towers Plaza for $8.6 million.

The neighborhood shopping center, located in Melrose, Mass., a suburb of Boston, was originally built in 1965 and later renovated and expanded. It is anchored by Johnnie’s Foodmaster Supermarket and Rite Aid.  . . . more

Tuesday Morning loss widens in Q1; COO out

Tuesday Morning Corp. on Monday reported a loss of $7 million for the quarter ended Sept. 30, widened from a loss of $5.7 million in the year-ago quarter.

The clearance retailer’s new CEO Brady Churches also announced the departure of executive VP and COO Michael Marchetti, a 12-year veteran of Tuesday Morning.. . . more

Monday, October 22, 2012

Halloween Again!

It’s back! It’s bigger than ever! And it’s coming for your retail dollars!

It’s Halloween, the juggernaut holiday that’s been growing like an atomic-radiated insect in a fifties horror movie. The growth of this formerly second-tier holiday is apparently unstoppable, as is the spending on costumes, masks, decorations, pumpkins, parties, pranks, and as we say in marketing, much, much more! In my own home, the level of decoration has reached an all-time high, and apparently isn’t over yet (a Halloween tree? Really?).

We’re also finding new ways to celebrate Halloween. One newly-established practice I’ve just learned about is called Trunk-or-Treat, in which people park their cars side by side, decorate their open trunks, and give out candy to costumed kids going “trunk to trunk”. The decorations can be surprisingly elaborate, and some venues offer prizes for the best-decorated trunk. It’s become popular at churches and schools, and some shopping centers (a center we manage near Pittsburgh is hosting just such an event; check it out at It’s a whole new Halloween. . . more

4 Boston area malls consider opening at midnight on Black Friday

Black Friday shopping madness may kick off earlier this year in the suburbs, with the owner of four large malls along the Route 128 corridor weighing plans to open just after midnight the day after Thanksgiving.

Northshore Mall in Peabody, the Burlington Mall, the Mall at Chestnut Hill in Newton, and South Shore Plaza in Braintree may open their doors at 12:01 a.m. as Simon Property Group considers shifting to earlier Black Friday openings across the country. . . more

Macerich Acquires Two NY Malls For $1.25B

Macerich Cos.has snatched up two of the largest malls in the New York metropolitan area. According to a statement released Monday morning, the company has acquired the Kings Plaza Mall in Brooklyn and the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, NY, for approximately $1.25 billion.

Kings Plaza– anchored by Macy’s, Sears, Best Buy and Lowe’s Home Improvement – is 95% occupied by tenants such as Aeropostale, American Eagle, Armani Exchange, Forever 21, H&M, Swarovski and Victoria’s Secret. Green Acres Mall– located on the border of New York City – expanded in 2007, and has approximately 408,000 square feet of in-line mall tenant space that includes Modell’s Sporting Goods, H&M and Forever 21. It is 94% occupied, with annual sales per foot of $520 and anchors like Macy’s, Kohl’s, JCPenney, Sears and Old Navy.. . . more

Walmart, eBay face challenges with same-day delivery

Retailers testing same-day delivery service in the Bay Area may soon find that giving customers what they want as fast as they want it is trickier -- and costlier -- than they bargained for.

In their scramble to keep pace with online giant Amazon, Walmart and eBay this month announced plans for same-day delivery in selected parts of the Bay Area. Some analysts caution that same-day delivery -- the latest holy grail for retailers -- is a financial risk and logistical nightmare to most anyone but Domino's Pizza and the local florist.. . . more

Lowe’s-Home Depot Shares Lure Investors on House Recovery

Shares of Home Depot Inc. and Lowe’s Cos. -- the two largest U.S. home-improvement retailers -- are trading at the highest level in more than 10 years relative to the broader market amid signs the housing recovery is gaining momentum.

New-home construction is the latest sign of improvement, as starts jumped 15 percent in September from the prior month to an 872,000 annual rate, based on data from the Commerce Department, beating the 770,000 median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Residential permits -- a proxy for future construction -- also exceeded the median forecast, rising to an 894,000 annual rate. Both were the highest since July 2008. . . . more

Dollar stores put increased competition on supermarkets

Supermarkets are facing increased competition from dollar stores, according to a new survey from Perception Research Services International.

Supermarkets continue to be the primary channel where consumers purchase groceries but are continuing to face challenges from other retail formats. PRS' survey results indicate that supermarkets are still where most shoppers (91%) have purchased groceries in the past three months (in line with last year's 92%), and mass merchandisers are still their largest competitive threat (73% purchase groceries there – down from 76% in 2011).. . . more

After 137 years in business, is Locke-Ober closed for good?

Locke-Ober restaurantThe landmark Boston restaurant, which first opened in 1875, has closed, pending the sale of its buildings on Winter Place in Boston's Downtown Crossing.

Adam's Hospitality & Tourism Blog first reported Locke-Ober closed on Saturday, citing a Facebook post by Boston waiter and restaurant blogger Patrick Maguire.. . . more

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Battle for Best Buy, the Incredible Shrinking Big Box

Richard Schulze had a splendid summer of 2012 planned. He had made billions starting Best Buy, the chain of electronics superstores, and at 71 was looking forward to relaxing with his wife at their home on Florida’s Gulf Coast, taking a European cruise, and playing plenty of golf. He would shoot up to Minnesota on his private jet for board meetings and to check on the $500 million fundraising campaign he was co-chairing for the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

It didn’t work out that way. . . . more

Amazon, retailers do combat; shoppers caught in the middle

It’s shaping up to be a battle of Amazonian proportions.

As retailers gear up for the holiday shopping season, analysts expect brick-and-mortar merchants to deploy a variety of tactics to help them compete with online-only companies like The result will be a more complex landscape for retailers and their customers.. . . more

Supervalu Says It Has Received Interest Amid Review

Supervalu Inc., the third-largest U.S. grocery store chain, said it has received a “number of indications of interest” as it conducts a review of strategic options.

The company is in “active dialogue” with several parties, Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based Supervalu said today in a statement. There can’t be any assurance the review will result in a transaction, the company said.. . . more

Second Time Around adding new locations

Consignment chain Second Time Around announced it is opening three more stores in Manhattan this October, all on the city’s Upper East Side.   

The new locations will bring the company to 36 stores nationwide, with the figure expected to grow to 40 by year end.. . . more

BofA's planned Back Bay branch is one of 12 'flagships'

Bank of America plans to take over the former FAO Schwarz storefront in Boston's Back Bay.  The new, 12,000-square-foot branch will be a "flagship" in Boston.

BofA has plans to open at least 12 such flagship branches nationwide, according to the Globe report. The flagship banks will include videoconference screens for remote meetings with bankers or financial advisers and laptop stations for customers.. . . more

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Grocery Outlet Eyes East Coast Expansion

Grocery Outlet here, which was founded in San Francisco in 1946 but has not operated in the city since 2001, said it plans to open two stores there next year while it also contemplates expanding on the East Coast.

The company operates stores in Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada and, since last January, in Pennsylvania, where it acquired Amelia's Grocery Outlets, based in Leola, Pa., near Lancaster. Lindberg said the company plans to open four more Amelia's stores in 2013, "and we plan to follow the Trader Joe's model of staying strong in the West while building a strong platform on the East Coast, growing concentrically from Philadelphia.". . . more

Target, Neiman Marcus unveil holiday collection with top designers

Luxury chain Neiman Marcus and discounter Target Corp. unveiled their holiday collection crafted by posh American designers ahead of what is shaping up to be a hyper-competitive season among retailers.

The collection of 50 limited-edition gift items, priced from $7.99 to $499.99, will be available on Dec. 1 online and at Target and Neiman Marcus shops.. . . more

PRI’S 2012 Holiday Spending Forecast More Optimistic Than the Consensus

This year’s holiday retail sales forecasts are out. Most are conservative, looking for a 3-4 percent sales increase. Compare this to last year’s increase of 5.6 percent. PRI is a bit more optimistic than most. We look for a 4.4-4.8 percent increase. The difference between the consensus forecast, on the one hand, and that of PRI, on the other, is a matter of perspective. We believe that most forecasts are overly conservative due to a focus on macro-economic factors. On the other hand, PRI has taken more of a bottom-up approach, as summarized here.. . . more