Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Family Dollar delays vote on Dollar Tree; good news for Dollar General

In not-unexpected news, Family Dollar has delayed its shareholder vote on a potential acquisition by Dollar Tree; the vote is now slated for Jan. 22, and analysts say this could bode well for a potential deal with industry giant Dollar General.
Family Dollar convened as planned on Tuesday and, based on insufficient votes, subsequently adjourned its Special Meeting of Stockholders on the proposed transaction with Dollar Tree.
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Sports Authority chief to lead Guitar Center

Guitar Center has chosen retailing veteran Darrell Webb to be the company's new president and CEO. From 2011 to 2013, Webb served as chairman and CEO of the Sports Authority.
Webb has more than 30 years of experience in retailing and has led several multibillion dollar companies through periods of rapid growth.. . . more

Super Saturday offers mixed results

“Super Saturday,” the Saturday before Christmas (Dec. 20), was not quite super for retailers expecting a sales bonanza. According to data from in-store analytics provider RetailNext, compared to the equivalent date in 2013, net sales were down 9%, store traffic was down 10.6%, total transactions fell 8% and average transaction value was 0.9% lower.
However, there were a couple of bright spots. Conversion rate rose 0.4 percentage points and sales per shopper increased 1.8%.. . . more

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Walgreen Q1 Earnings Top On Strong Prescription Sales

A record number of prescriptions helped boost Walgreen 's first-quarter results above analyst estimates.

On Tuesday, the drugstore chain reported a 12.5% increase in earnings to 81 cents per share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting 75 cents. Sales rose 6.8% to $19.55 billion, topping views for $19.5 billion.

Same-store sales grew 5.7%.. . . more

Barnes & Noble regains full ownership of Nook unit

Bookseller Barnes & Noble says it has bought back full ownership of its Nook e-reader business, which it plans to split into a separate company.

Barnes & Noble said Tuesday it bought Pearson Inc.'s stake in Nook for about $27.7 million in cash and stock. The deal closed Monday, and Barnes & Noble said it now owns Nook Media outright.
Read more here:
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Analyst predicts Whole Foods buying spree

Whole Foods Market next year will use its might to absorb competitors in the rapidly growing health and wellness field, according to stock analyst Charles Grom of Sterne Agee.

“We think conditions are ideal for [Whole Foods] to go on an acquisition spree in 2015,” Grom wrote while speculating on 10 predictions for the retail space in the coming year. Grom cited the growing number of competitors crowding the natural/organic space; the falling valuation of Whole Foods stock in recent years; and a “debt-free, robust balance sheet,” that could allow Austin, Texas-based chain to buy a rival if it wanted one.. . . more

Biggest NY chain stores are not the ones you'd expect

Dunkin' Donuts Dunkin' Donuts rules the Big Apple, according to an annual survey of national chain stores.

The retailer this year grew 4%, to 536 stores, holding on to its title for the past seven years as the largest national retailer in the city, the Center for an Urban Future reported Monday in its annual “State of the Chains” ranking.. . . more

Judge clears way for Tuesday vote by Family Dollar shareholders

A Delaware judge has denied a request  to block Tuesday's vote by Family Dollar Stores on a  $8.5 billion take-over bid by Dollar Tree,  saying dissident shareholders "failed to demonstrate a reasonable probability of success on any of their claims."   A shareholder lawsuit had requested a preliminary injunction against the vote until Family Dollar “properly engaged” in talks  with rival Dollar General to “achieve a value-maximizing transaction.”
“The board has reasonably decided not to engage in discussions with General because General has not, in the board’s informed and good-faith judgment, offered better value” for Family Dollar investors, stated Delaware Chancery Court Judge Andre Bouchard.. . . more

Five Trends That Will Impact Supermarket Retailers in 2015

Supermarkets are utilizing data-driven approaches to offset a moderate economy, varying consumer behavior and the continued rise of online competitors. Achievement often depends on reacting well to difficult issues or, better, getting ahead of the next obstacles. There's no telling how the year will develop, but there are several clear challenges and opportunities for savvy supermarkets in 2015. 
1. Data-Driven Insight Spills Over to Back-of-House
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Retailers report seasonal surge

Retailers are hoping for a last-minute surge in holiday sales to meet targets after shoppers spent 2.4 percent more nationally this past weekend than the same period last year — with Massachusetts stores reporting high volumes and aiming for a banner year.

National “Super Saturday” weekend sales climbed to
$42 billion, up from $41 billion in 2013, according to Customer Growth Partners, a New Canaan, Conn., research firm.. . . more

Monday, December 22, 2014

Shoppers will be buying online right up until Christmas

When it comes to making online selections, Christmas shoppers are better late than never. A survey released by Bizrate Insights, a division of Connexity, found that many shoppers are still making online holiday purchases, even though there are only a few days left before Christmas. In fact, only 17% of shoppers have finished their Christmas shopping.
Of those still shopping, 90% believe that it is reasonable to expect a shipment by December 24th for a purchase made or before December 20th for regular or free shipping fees. However, 51% of customers believe that it is reasonable to expect that same on-time delivery by December 24th for orders placed on December 20th-23rd when expedited shipping fees are paid. . . . more

Consumer spending reaches 11-month high

Image result for consumer spendingThe Deloitte Consumer Spending Index reached its highest point since November 2013, rising to 4.5 from 4 the prior month. The Index tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending. 
The Index comprises four components – tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices. Highlights include:
Tax Burden: The tax rate has been effectively unchanged from the previous month at 11.8%.  
Initial Unemployment Claims: Claims took a big dip to 280,600 from 295,000 the prior month, and down 12% from the same period the previous year.
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Consumers can sue Target over breach

A federal judge has ruled that customers suing Target for last year’s data breach may move forward with their claims.
U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson in St. Paul, Minn., dismissed claims by plaintiffs in certain states but largely denied Target's request to toss out the proposed class action lawsuit.. . . more

Mall of America temporarily closes stores amid Saturday protest

Thousands of protesters ignored warnings not to gather at the Mall of America on Saturday, prompting the shopping destination to close for part of the afternoon on one of its busier shopping days of the year.

The group organizing the protest, Black Lives Matter, was warned repeatedly by mall officials and Bloomington authorities that the mall was not a public space and therefore not a suitable place for demonstration.. . . more

Stores Stay Open Longer for Last-Minute Shoppers

It is either a sign that sales have been poor and retailers are going all-out to pick up more revenue any way they can, or it is a sign that sales have been good and retailers figure why not grab as much as they can.

What we’re talking about here are extended store hours at a number of large chain stores. The following hours of operation were culled from several shopping sites and may not apply to every store.. . . more

Friday, December 19, 2014

Dollar General remains engaged with FTC

Dollar General Corp. stated on Dec. 19 that it remains actively engaged in discussions with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding the extent of potential divestitures that would be required in connection with an acquisition of Family Dollar Stores Inc. Dollar General does not expect to provide any further update prior to the Family Dollar shareholders meeting currently scheduled for Dec. 23, 2014. . . . more

Retail Construction Set to Rise in 2015

The nationwide increase in job creation, coupled with the Fed’s recent decision to continue holding down interest rates, has many in commercial real estate looking toward 2015 with great anticipation. This includes those involved in retail and restaurant ground-up construction and shopping mall renovations.

“Confident in the improving economy, national retailers and restaurant owners have been adding new locations this year, and we expect that activity to continue in 2015,” says William Di Santo, president of Lemont, IL-basedEnglewood Construction. “Shopping mall owners are also renovating their space to make trips to the mall more experiential.”. . . more

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Rite Aid hikes 2015 forecast after beating 3Q expectations

A Rite Aid Corp. store stands in Redondo Beach, California, U.S., on Wednesday, April 9, 2014Shares of Rite Aid soared Thursday after the nation's third-largest drugstore chain reported a 47 percent jump in fiscal third-quarter earnings and hiked its annual forecast after cutting it for two straight quarters.

The Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, company said sales from established stores helped its revenue grow 5 percent in the quarter that ended last month, and earnings advanced despite a higher loss from debt retirement.. . . more

2014 Retail Investment Sales Set to Surpass Last Year’s Figures

It looks like this will be a merry holiday season for sellers of retail properties, as both transaction volume in the sector and price per sq. ft. continued to increase in the fourth quarter.

Year-to-date, retail investment sales have already reached $42.7 billion, according to data compiled by Washington, D.C.-based research firm CoStar, up almost 13 percent from $37.8 billion in sales recorded last year.. . . more

Amazon debuts Prime Now, a one-hour delivery service for Prime members

primenowamazonAmazon today launched Prime Now, a new one-hour delivery service that offers Prime members a way to have “daily essential” items like paper towels and shampoo arrive at their door within 60 minutes of ordering. The service debuts in Manhattan today, with expansion to other cities rolling out in 2015.

Prime customers can access Prime Now via a mobile app for iOS and Android, and choose from products like books, toys, food, and other basic items. The service, which is available from 6 a.m. to midnight each day, costs $7.99 for one-hour delivery and is free for two-hour delivery.. . . more

Dunkin’ Brands to open 400-plus U.S. stores in 2015

Dunkin' Brands Group Inc., the parent company of Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, plans to add between 410 and 440 net new U.S. Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants five to 10 net new Baskin-Robbins U.S. restaurants in 2015. Globally, the company expects to open between 615 and 750 net new units in the coming year.
For full year 2014, Dunkin’ Brands expects to finish the year near the top end of its Dunkin' Donuts U.S. development growth target of 380 to 410 net new restaurants. The company sees opportunity for 17,000-plus Dunkin' Donuts restaurants in the U.S. and more than 30,000 restaurants for both brands globally.. . . more

Wal-Mart – 1 in 3 consumers will shop ‘Super Saturday’

“Super Saturday,” the Saturday before Christmas (Dec. 20), looks to be a super day for retailers. According to an in-store customer survey conducted by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Dec. 13, 36% of consumers plan to shop that day.\
Nationwide, 42% of customers conduct the majority of their Christmas shopping in December. Top purchases for last-minute holiday shopping trips include gifts like toys and electronics (23%), groceries for holiday meals (22%), stocking stuffers (21%), holiday-party items (17%) and alcohol (17%). . . . more

Best Buy helps customers to holiday finish line

Some customers are only midway through the race to finish their holiday shopping, some haven’t even left the starting line, but Best Buy is offering help to make sure they reach the finish line by Dec. 24. Best Buy Co Inc. is making thousands of products on eligible for a free shipping upgrade.
Purchases of $35 or more will receive a free automatic upgrade from standard shipping to two-day shipping. Customers who buy products on by 10:30 a.m. CST on Monday, Dec. 22 can get them delivered by Christmas. will also offer overnight shipping options, at a cost, for those shopping on Wednesday, Dec. 23. . . . more

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Does Black Friday Slowdown Indicate Holiday Sales Weakness?

Holiday season is the most important time of the year for apparel retailers such as Urban Outfitters, as they can earn close to 20% of their annual revenues during the months of November and December, when buyers open up their wallets in a festive mood. Historically, one day shopping events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday have played a crucial role in driving store traffic, which has resulted in significant growth in retail sales on these particular days. However, recent sales data shows that this is no longer the case.

Retail sales during the Black Friday weekend fell 11%, as retailers’ aggressive discounts and offers failed to entice customers. The National Retail Federation expected 140.1 million customers at brick-and-mortar stores during the Black Friday weekend, down from 140.3 million in the year ago period. Instead, only 133.7 million shoppers showed up and they too spent less.. . . more

Kimco To Acquire Blackstone’s 66.7% Interest in 39-Shopping Centers

Kimco Realty Corp. has contracted to acquire the remaining 66.667% interest in the 39-property Kimstone portfolio from its joint venture partner, a subsidiary of Blackstone Real Estate Partners VII (BREP) for $925 million. 

The portfolio consists of 39 properties totaling 5.6 million square feet that is approximately 97% occupied. It contains a balance between well-located, grocery-anchored shopping centers and dominant power centers in strong demographic areas that have high barriers to entry. . . . more

Domino’s manages real estate with AMTdirect

Domino's Pizza has selected and implemented AMTdirect to manage its corporate real estate portfolio. The cloud platform has allowed Domino's to centralize real estate information and track revenue, sales and expenses across locations. 
AMTdirect's mapping software will also help Domino's make strategic decisions about new and existing locations. AMTdirect allows Domino's to manage its corporate real estate portfolio. The platform has centralized location data and lease terms including rent payments, taxes, insurance, utilities and non-financial obligations.  . . . more

Former Toys “R” Us chief named CEO of Hudson’s Bay

Hudson’s Bay Co. has named Gerald Storch, the former CEO of Toys “R” Us, as its new CEO, effective January 6.  An industry veteran with over 30 years of experience, Storch oversaw the expansion of Toys “R” Us online and international business. Prior to joining the toy giant, he was vice-chairman of  Target Corp., where he founded, and ran the chain’s grocery business.
Storch replaces Richard Baker, the principal owner of HBC, who will stay on as governor and executive chairman.. . . more

Consumer Prices in U.S. Decline by Most in Six Years on Fuel

The cost of living in the U.S. fell in November by the most in almost six years, depressed by falling energy prices that signal inflation will stay below the Federal Reserve’s goal well into 2015.

The consumer-price index dropped 0.3 percent, the most since December 2008, after being little changed the prior month, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 84 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.1 percent fall. Costs rose 1.3 percent over the past year, the least since February. Excluding volatile food and fuel, the so-called core measure rose at a slower pace than in October.. . . more

Record-Breaking Sales During Cyber Week Holiday Reveal Key Insights for Retailers

Even though brick-and-mortar stores launched seasonal promotions earlier this year and stayed open even later during the holiday rush, more shoppers chose to stay home with their families on Thanksgiving weekend.
Retailers offered online promotions for extended windows of time, enabling shoppers to take advantage of deep discounts at any hour of any day – instead of relying on store hours and being limited to shorter-timeframe deals.. . . more

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sears CEO Lampert explains why he closed 200 stores

In 2014, Sears Holdings has closed some 200 of the 1,900 Sears and Kmart stores it had at the start of year to stanch big losses stemming from chronic sales declines.

Many observers see the shrinking of the store fleet, which followed closings in previous years and that looks set to continue, as indicative of a declining retailer that has lost billions of dollars in recent years (and according to Bloomberg, reported 31 quarters in a row of sales declines) and that this year, raised $2.2 billion in liquidity by selling off assets such as the Lands’ End activewear brand to bolster its financial cushion.. . . more

Vornado Realty to Spin Off Shopping Centers By Early Next Year

Vornado Realty Trust said Monday that it expects the spinoff of its shopping centers to begin trading by January, a move that will allow the commercial landlord to focus on its office towers and retail shops in Manhattan and Washington.

The spinoff, announced in April, will be called Urban Edge Properties and consist of 79 shopping centers, three malls and a warehouse park located largely in the Northeast.. . . more

RadioShack hires advisory firm

RadioShack is bringing in FTI Consulting as an adviser in the midst of another round of cost cuts as the troubled electronics retailer warned again last week that it may have to seek bankruptcy protection.
The company said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday that Carlin Adrianopoli, a senior managing director with FTI's corporate finance and restructuring service, will take over as interim chief financial officer at RadioShack. Holly Etlin, who became interim CFO in September, will no longer serve in that position.
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RadioShack is bringing in FTI Consulting as an adviser in the midst of another round of cost cuts as the troubled electronics retailer warned again last week that it may have to seek bankruptcy protection.

The company said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday that Carlin Adrianopoli, a senior managing director with FTI's corporate finance and restructuring service, will take over as interim chief financial officer at RadioShack. Holly Etlin, who became interim CFO in September, will no longer serve in that position.. . . more

Fantastic Sams Salon Franchise Targets Top 15 Growth Markets

Fantastic Sams, the country's leading network of full-service salon franchises, today announced its Top 15 target growth markets for 2015.

Included in the roster are the Midwest states of Michigan and Illinois, Southeastern states of Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina and the Eastern Seaboard states of New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Rounding off the list are Northern California, New Mexico and Texas.. . . more

All Roads Lead to Growth at Starbucks Corporation

Starbucks expects to add 9,000 stores worldwide by 2019. Well over half of the new stores will open outside the U.S., with the China-Asia Pacific region being the biggest growth driver. Starbucks operates more than 4,600 stores in the region, and it plans to double that number in the next half-decade.

That said, there is still plenty of room for domestic expansion. Chief Strategy Officer Matthew Ryan pointed out that Starbucks has vastly more cafes per capita in Seattle than in other cities, including large markets such as New York and Boston. This suggests Starbucks could add many locations across the U.S. before fully saturating the market.. . . more

3G has global plans for Tim Hortons

Since opening its first store in 1964, Tim Hortons has become a Canadian institution — with 3,600 locations that have average unit volumes exceeding $2 million and a 42 percent share of the country’s total quick service market, according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents.

Yet it’s a different story outside of Canada, where Horton the hockey player and Tim Hortons the chain are each largely unknown. The brand has less than 900 locations in the U.S., and very few anywhere else.. . . more

More than half of holiday shoppers finish last-minute

More than half (56%) of Christmas shoppers surveyed typically have gifts left to purchase by the time "Panic Saturday,” the last Saturday to shop for holiday gifts before Christmas (also referred to as "Super Saturday"), rolls around. According to a new consumer survey from digital offers site RetailMeNot, nearly one in 5 (18%) Christmas shoppers surveyed admit that they've actually waited until the Saturday before Christmas to begin shopping for presents.
Unsurprisingly, this a more common practice for men than women (22% compared to 16%). In addition, parents surveyed are far more likely than adults without children (70% compared to 49%) to find themselves running to the store to pick up a last-minute gift at least frequently, if not all the time.
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Restaurant revenue drops post-Thanksgiving

In the last several years, restaurant revenue declined 22 to 45% during the post-Thanksgiving holiday period. According to a study across quick-serve, fast casual, and fine dining chains by customer engagement solutions provider Thanx Media Inc., the average restaurant experienced a 27% revenue decline in December, as compared to that year's monthly average. 
When expanded to the five weeks including Thanksgiving, the decline was even more severe, with revenue decreases ranging from 22 to 45%. . . . more

Monday, December 15, 2014

Arthur T. Demoulas Completes Market Basket Deal

MarketBasketLogoArthur T. Demoulas and his family on Friday completed the purchase of the 50.5 percent of the Demoulas Market Basket grocery chain that they did not previously own, and now have 100 percent ownership of the company.

A private company, Market Basket says it will not provide specifics of the terms of the financial transaction. However, the company says it was pleased that the loan package included significant participation by many New England-based banks. Additionally, Arthur T. Demoulas and his family were able to take advantage of historically low interest rates.. . . more

Blackstone to sell retail stake to Kimco for $512M

Blackstone Group LP agreed to sell a majority stake in 39 U.S. shopping centers to joint-venture partner Kimco Realty Corp. for $512.3 million in a deal that will almost double the firm’s equity investment.

Kimco will buy Blackstone’s two-thirds interest in the properties, which total 5.6 million square feet and are in New York, Virginia, Texas, Florida, California and Maryland, the real estate investment trust said today in a statement. The transaction is valued at $925 million including debt, the company said.. . . more

Using stores as warehouses, retailers can compete with Amazon

Many analysts have bought into the theory that Amazon has an “economic moat” or a leg up on its brick-and-mortar competition (such as Walmart), which allows Amazon to sell anything and everything to consumers cheaper. The theory has received a lot of attention from retailers, and they are fighting back.

Consumer electronics retailer Best Buy is a good case in point.

At this time last year, Best Buy was in the middle of an experiment that appears to have paid off. Of its more than 1,400 retail locations at the time, the chain offered a “ship from store” service at about 400 locations. That was up from zero such stores the prior year.. . . more