Monday, March 31, 2014

Neiman eyes Hudson Yards for 1st NYC store

Neiman eyes Hudson Yards for 1st NYC storeNeiman Marcus is poised to enter New York, at last — in a spot that will have a view of New Jersey.

The Dallas-based upscale department store is nearing a deal to open a flagship store at Hudson Yards, the mega-development under construction on Manhattan’s West Side.. . . more

Tanger Outlet Centers and WS Development Announce Plans to Partner on Upscale Outlet Center

The Outlets at CheshireTanger Factory Outlet Centers, Inc. and WS Development announced today plans to partner on the development of an upscale outlet center in Cheshire, Connecticut.
The new outlet center, currently in the pre-development stage, will be co-owned by WS Development and Tanger Outlet Centers.   The attractive parcel benefits from fantastic visibility and a convenient location at the interchange of I-691 and Route 10, just east of I-84 in Cheshire, Connecticut.  I-691 is the major east/west connector between I-84 and I-91.. . . more

Game Stop vs. Walmart

At first glance, Walmart’s entrance into the market for refurbishing and selling used video games may appear to pose a significant threat to GameStop, whose pre-owned game sales clear substantial gross profit margins for the company. But several analysts who follow GameStop predict that the retailer will continue to enjoy the upper hand despite the new competition.

Walmart launched its program in 3,100 stores on March 26, accepting thousands of games for Microsoft’s Xbox 360, the Sony PlayStation 3 and other consoles. Customers who sell games will receive store credit usable at Walmart and Sam’s Club locations. Later this year, Walmart will start reselling games in its stores and online.. . . more

Chick-fil-A Stole KFC's Chicken Crown With a Fraction of the Stores

Chick-fil-A Stole KFC's Chicken Crown With a Fraction of the StoresThe days when fried chicken was synonymous with a certain white-haired southern gentleman are over, at least in the U.S. A new champion has claimed KFC’s long-held chicken crown: Chick-fil-A.

The change atop the leaderboard appears undisputed: Yum! Brands, which owns KFC and has for years prided itself as “the leader in the U.S. chicken [quick-service restaurant] segment,” removed that very phrase from the company’s most recent annual report.. . . more

Consumer spending rises in February

Consumers opened up their pocketbooks a bit in February, according to figures released Friday by the U.S. Commerce Department. Consumer spending increased 0.3% last month after a downwardly revised gain of 0.2% in January.

The February increase was the biggest since November. Personal income was up 0.3%, matching January's gain.. . . more

Dudley Square’s comeback tied to historic structure

The effort to rehabilitate the Ferdinand Building in Dudley Square has brought signs of a renewal and a starting point. Dudley Square has fallen a long way since the days of Frank Ferdinand, the 19th-century entrepreneur who opened a popular furniture store that once made Roxbury a retail destination. It has battled back in recent years, but still suffers from scattered graffiti and boarded-up storefronts, and razor wire around some property tells of crime that still lingers.

A $120 million effort to rehabilitate Ferdinand’s namesake commercial building in the heart of Dudley has brought the first real signs of a renewal. Starbucks wants to open in the building. So do the owners of Tasty Burger, Parish Cafe, and Salvatore’s restaurant.. . . more

A New Retail Concept Designed to Combat the Online Shopping Trend

Sales momentum is perceptibly slowing in most retail stores. This was noticeably true in 2013 when total retail sales increased by only 2.2% and GAFO (General Merchandise, Apparel, Furniture, and Other) sales decreased by 0.6%.  These tepid numbers reflect consumer apathy and general economic concerns.  Shopping malls no longer have surging crowds except on special event days like Black Friday. Reports indicate that the Internet is making up for some of the lost store traffic. It is increasingly evident that the shift from shopping in stores to shopping online is permanent and still rising.

In the past year more and more people felt comfortable with Internet shopping.  Special values and free shipping incentivized them to fulfill their need for basics and their family fashion apparel online.. . . more

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dollar General opens new store

Tennessee-based Dollar General celebrated the opening of its new store at 342 West Boylston St. in West Boylston on Saturday. 

With nearly 10,900 stores in 40 states, Dollar General has more retail locations than any retailer in America. The chain recently opened a store in Fitchburg, has announced plans for one in Brookfield and opened one of its first Massachusetts stores in Dudley. .
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Restoration Hardware CEO defies ‘conventional wisdom’ that retail stores are dead

With retailers from Wal-Mart to Staples talking about building smaller stores, you’d think that’s the direction the industry is heading. Until you see what Restoration Hardware is doing.
Restoration Hardware shares on Friday surged up to 14% in their biggest daily percentage gain since June after the retailer of luxury home furnishings erased fears that it would follow other retailers and report disappointing results after a shorter holiday selling season and wintry weather that led to store closings.. . . more

Friday, March 28, 2014

Women's wear retailer seeks OK from bankruptcy court to sell store leases

Dots, the liquidating women’s wear retailer, is scheduled to appear before a bankruptcy court in Newark tomorrow to seek approval for the sale of six store leases.

The retailer got the first approval in the process of making $2.1 million from the sale of store leases last week.

For the first batch of 201 leases, there was no bid to compete with the $2.1 million offer from Rainbow Southeast Leasing. The contract calls for Rainbow to take at least 100 leases.. . . more

Wal-Mart files $5 billion suit against Visa over card fees

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. filed suit with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas suing Visa for $5 billion, alleging that the financial services company overcharges on the credit and debit card swipe fees it charges retailer.

The suit claims that Visa colluded with banks to fix swipe fees between January 2004 and November 2012, forcing it to raise prices and reduce customer service, resulting in lost retail sales.. . . more

Restoration Hardware swings to Q4 profit; plans seven new stores

Restoration Hardware Holdings Inc. (RH) swung to a profit in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013 amid ongoing sales growth. The retailer posted net earnings of $26.64 million, compared to a net loss of $28.36 in the year-ago period.

Net revenues grew 18.5% to $471.69 million, from $398.05 million. Same-store sales grew 17%.. . . more

Brookstone to file bankruptcy

Saddled with high levels of debt and sluggish sales, Brookstone Inc. is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection, with a plan already in place to be bought by another specialty retailer, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Spencer Spirit Holdings Inc., which is based in Egg Harbor, N.J., and owns Spencer's and Halloween seasonal retailer Spirit, has been in discussions with Brookstone for weeks and both companies are looking to finalize sale paperwork, the report said. Spencer is expected to pay around $120 million for Brookstone, the Wall Street Journal said.. . . more

What went wrong at Quincy Center

0328 Center FULL quincy 57The positive vibes were palpable last June as a team of Jones Lang LaSalle brokers and around two dozen guests boarded a convoy of chartered buses in Boston’s Post Office Square. The sky was clear, the spring weather about as good as it gets in New England. The destination was the city of Quincy.

Within 30 minutes, the group was huddled around a model city displayed in the gilded Granite Trust building on Hancock Street. JLL’s team, led that day by veteran broker Bill Barrack, got right to it, making a case for why the timing was right for major tenants to buy into the largest urban-redevelopment project in the country — the $1.6 billion New Quincy Center.. . . more

Thursday, March 27, 2014

While chain retailers close stores, others drawn to Fairfield County

Consumers increasingly are sitting in front of their computers or using their smartphones or tablets to order items from retailers, eroding sales at brick-and-mortar retail outlets, but three national retailers are bucking the trend as they forge ahead with plans to build big-box stores in Fairfield County.

Lowe's, the North Carolina-based home improvement chain, plans to build a store on Connecticut Avenue in Norwalk, while Missouri-based Bass Pro Shops plans to build a store at the Steel Point site in Bridgeport.. . . more

Where Are All the Teen Shoppers? Soft In-Store Retail Sales Vexing Retailers and Mall Owners

Many retailers and regional shopping mall owners are discovering what many parents have lamented for years: How do we get through to our teenagers?

Declining teen retail sales has become a red flag for many fashion-dependent stores. And while retailers are on the front line of that trend, mall owners are not far behind, and they are also trying to get through to their parents as well, who appear to be abandoning many of their old standby department stores. Finding answers is critical for their futures. . . . more

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Crew Outlines New Store Plans for 2014

J. Crew Group Inc. has announced plans for 60 new stores this year, both in the U.S. and internationally.

During a call reviewing its fourth quarter and yearly results, the company said it will open 20 new J. Crew stores, 20 factory outlets and 20 Madewell stores. The Crew openings will be in the U.S., Canada, London and Hong Kong.. . .more

Toys 'R' Us Swings to Loss, Capping 'Challenging Year'

Toys "R" Us Inc. capped a "challenging year" by swinging to a loss in its fiscal fourth quarter, driven mainly by write-downs and declines in both its domestic and international segments.

The privately held retailer has struggled to hold its position as a leading toy seller amid competition from the likes of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Inc. The most recent quarter, which included the crucial holiday-selling season, marked a continuation of the recent dire trends.. . . more

The Great Retail Demassification, Part 2

The Death and Diminishment of Malls and Other Big Footprints
In Part 1 of this piece, posted here yesterday, we looked at how the disruption of e-commerce, adding virtual square footage to an already over-saturated marketplace still struggling from the recession, and the shifting shopping desires of the new Millennial consumers, is driving strategic and structural changes in the retail landscape. We began enumerating these changes — #1 was recasting regional malls, shopping centers and strip malls. To continue:. . . more

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is thinking small

Wal-Mart, which has been looking for a spark to ignite its moribund U.S. sales for a long time, is testing a convenience store concept dubbed "Walmart to Go" in its hometown of Bentonville, Ark.

The 5,000-square foot Walmart to Go, which recently opened, sells gasoline along with an assortment of prepared foods including Krispy Kreme donuts and groceries much like other convenience stores. Wal-Mart executives have been quoted in the press as saying that their stores will have a wider selection at lower prices than its rivals.. . . more

Kohl's top merchandiser resigns as management shake-up continues

Donald Brennan, chief merchandising officer at Kohl's Corp. and one of the retailer's most highly paid executives, has resigned.

His resignation continues a management shake-up at Kohl's that began in 2012. It also appears to solidify the position of Michelle Gass, the company's chief customer officer, as the No. 2 executive behind CEO Kevin Mansell.. . . more

GameStop goes back to school to reinvent its stores

GameStop will announce Tuesday that it has formed the GameStop Technology Institute with Texas A&M’s Center for Retailing Studies to accelerate its lofty goals of reinventing its stores and making them come alive.

IBM is joining Grapevine-based GameStop as a founding partner.

The plan is to add other companies and universities to be part of the institute. The mission is to create new shopping environments.. . . more

Five Below Q4 tops estimates; 62 stores planned for current year

Five Below on Tuesday reported better-than-expected results for its fiscal fourth quarter, ended Feb.1. The tween/teen retailer also said it is on track to open 62 stores in 2014

 Sales jumped 22.1% to $212 million while same-store sales increased by 0.3%.. . . more

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

RadioShack’s online presence not clicking with customers

While e-commerce has exploded in the past decade, the Fort Worth-based consumer electronics chain’s online sales have declined more than 20 percent.

A weak online business is just one of the problems the current management team inherited from years of missteps. As it seeks out younger shoppers, RadioShack might be in better shape today if it had a more developed digital strategy. Consumer electronics is one of the biggest and oldest e-commerce product categories along with office supplies and books. . . . more

Recession-fueled eating-at-home trend levels off

It looks like Americans' love affair with eating at home is leveling off, according to new data from the NPD Group, a market research firm that tracks eating trends.

About 80% of meals were prepared at home in November 2013, about the same as 2012, NPD data show. The percentage of meals prepared at home has risen steadily from 77.4% in 2008 at the beginning of the recession.

"The move back home for our meals looks to be over," says Harry Balzer, NPD chief industry analyst. "I'm sure restaurants are happy to hear this.". . . more

J. Crew Profit Falls as Company Contemplates Going Public Again

J. Crew Group Inc., the retail chain owned by TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners LP, reported a 42 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit amid a broader decline in shopping-mall traffic.

J. Crew is working to bounce back from an industry slump that hurt holiday sales and triggered a wave of discounting among rival retailers. At the same time, the company is contemplating an initial public offering for later this year, according to people familiar with the matter. It also held early-stage talks with Japan’s Fast Retailing Co. about a sale of the chain, people said in February.  . . . more

Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch issues termination letter to developer Street-Works

Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch took formal steps Monday to terminate the city's contract with Street-Works, issuing an official "termination letter" ordering the New York-based developer to turn over all plans and release any remaining funds linked to the $1.6 billion project known as New Quincy Center.

The letter, while anticipated for weeks, marks the opening salvo in an official process to remove Street-Works as New Quincy Center’s developer of record. If successful, the city’s effort will force Street-Works to swallow millions in investments already funneled into the project while at the same time severing its myriad contracts to acquire and redevelop chunks of the city’s sagging downtown. But the move is far from risk free, as sources close to the situation say City Hall has been leery to issue the formal default letter for fear of sparking a legal battle that could further delay any redevelopment work.. . . more

Friendly’s puts it on the line

Friendly’s CEO John Maguire — promising a friendlier, cleaner and tastier dining experience — said he’s so confident of recent improvements to the struggling 79-year-old restaurant chain he’s offering customers a free meal if they’re not satisfied.

The chain has remodeled 45 of its 350 locations with modern touches such as high-top tables, free Wi-Fi and updated music. It’s also developing employees more, Maguire said.. . . more

The Great Retail Demassification

We are on the edge of the Great Retail Demassification.  Prior to the “great disruptor” (that would be the Internet), and before the marketplace became ridiculously over-stored and overstuffed, consumers were well served by massive regional malls (currently numbering about 1200), in which retailers located their stores and to which consumers travelled enthusiastically.  To steal a line from the movie, “Field of Dreams,” retail growth strategy during the pre-digital era could truly be based on nothing more than “build it and they will come.” And they did.

Fast forward: consumers have every retail store in the world resting comfortably in their pockets, just a key-tap away, wherever they are and whenever they choose to shop for exactly what they want. Why, then, would anyone spend the time and money to travel to, and shop through the malls; or for that matter, any large, impersonal, traditional retailer? . . . more

Walgreen Co. to close 76 unprofitable stores

Walgreen's corporate headquarters in DeerfieldWalgreen Co. on Tuesday said it plans to close 76 unprofitable drugstores by August as part of a plan to save $40 million to $50 million per year beginning in its fiscal 2015.

 The Deerfield-based drugstore chain, the nation’s largest, declined to specify the locations of the stores slated to close aside from saying they’re “spread across the country.” Walgreen said it will confirm the closures in the coming months after it notifies employees.. . . more

Monday, March 24, 2014

Whole Foods Market coming to Loudoun

A spokeswoman for Whole Foods Market confirmed today the upscale grocer has a Loudoun County store in development.

The popular Austin, Texas-based natural and organic foods grocery chain is looking to locate its first Loudoun store between Russell Branch Parkway and Claiborne Parkway in the Belmont Chase development of Ashburn.. . . more

Walmart pursuing small store growth

In its annual report filed on March 21 with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Walmart said that 56% of the company’s total sales in 2014 came from grocery sales. Walmart U.S. President Bill Simon told an investor conference in early March that the weekly consumer trip to a supermarket to stock-up for the coming week is a $585 billion business in the U.S., and Walmart gets a 25% share of that business.
The quick-trip to a convenience store for a quart or milk or a six-pack of your favorite beverage is a $415 billion business in the U.S., and Walmart gets just 10% of those sales. That’s a number the retailer would like to grow.. . . more