Tuesday, March 31, 2015

U.S. shopping center occupancy rate hit six-year high

The death of the mall has been highly exaggerated, according to data released Monday by the International Council of Shopping Centers and the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries. Among the highlights: Shopping center occupancy rates were 92.7% at the end of 2014, the highest level since second quarter 2008, according to data released Monday. Occupancy was even higher for the mall segment (combined super-regional and regional malls), at 94.2% at the end of 2014, the highest since the end of 1987. 

Also in 2014, mall sales productivity reached an annualized $475 per square foot. The metric has been generally increasing at a healthy pace since 2009, when it was $383.. . . more

U.S. has fastest e-commerce growth rate in North America and Europe

The United States continues to lead e-commerce among the most Internet-friendly markets surveyed in North America and Europe, according to an international study commissioned by RetailMeNot.

The study, carried out by the Centre for Retail Research reveals that despite having a smaller population than the eight combined European countries surveyed and one of the smallest projected year-over-year growth rates, the United States still leads e-commerce sales with an expected revenue of $349 billion (compared to $254 billion in projected sales in surveyed European countries).. . . more

Bloomingdale’s to open in new center in Norwalk, Conn., in 2018

Macy’s announced that Bloomingdale’s plans to open a 150,000-sq.-ft., three-level location in fall 2018 in an all-new shopping, dining and entertainment center being developed in Norwalk, Connecticut, by General Growth Properties.

“This spectacular new shopping center will be a distinctive and upscale destination for Fairfield County and surrounding areas, prominently positioned at I-95 and Highway 7,” said Tony Spring, chairman and CEO of Bloomingdale’s.. . . more

By Courtney Sturgeon Portland stores prepare for plastic bag fee

Image result for Plastic bag fee in maineApril 15 will mark another kind of tax day in Portland, Maine.

The city will have a 5-cent per plastic bag fee at grocery stores starting on that day.

Supermarkets and customers are both preparing for the ordinance.. . . more

Grocery Stores Are Losing You. Here's How They Plan To Win You Back

A little booze can't hurt: The Hy-Vee grocery chain has added a Market Grille to several of its locations in the Midwest and Great Plains. You can order drinks and dinner before or after you do your grocery shopping.If pushing a cart up and down the lengthy aisles of your neighborhood supermarket — past dozens of brands of packaged cereal and crackers lit by fluorescent lights — feels overwhelming and soul-sucking, you're not alone.

But there's some good news: The days of shopping this way may be numbered.

Here's why. Traditional grocers are increasingly losing market share — some 15 percent in the past 10 years — to more nimble competitors like smaller markets, convenience stores, farmers markets and even dollar stores. That, along with the rise of online food shopping, is forcing the old-school grocers to innovate in ways that should yield a better overall experience for consumers down the road.. . . more

New Restaurant Set to Open in Burlington in April

New Restaurant Set to Open in Burlington in AprilIn just a few weeks Burlington will be home to a new restaurant whose offerings will combine Italian technique while showcasing farmers, fisherman and ranchers to tie in all New England has to offer when it comes to great fare.

Osteria Nino is expected to open its doors toward the end of April at 19 3rd Ave. in the 3rd Ave Burlington development.. . . more

Monday, March 30, 2015

Spending by U.S. Consumers Increases Less Than Forecast

Image result for February 2015 consumer spendingConsumer purchases rose less than projected in February, indicating the biggest part of the U.S. economy will find it hard to sustain momentum after the best quarter since 2006.

The 0.1 percent gain followed a 0.2 percent drop the prior month, Commerce Department figures showed Monday in Washington. The median forecast of 74 economists in a Bloomberg survey called for a 0.2 percent gain. Adjusted for inflation, spending declined for the first time in almost a year.. . . more

Is physical retail a threat to Amazon?

AmazonToday is the day that it’s reported Amazon will launch version 2.0 of its local services play. Branded Amazon Home Services, this hyper-local marketplace will match local service providers – plumbers, fitness instructors, dog walkers and appliance repair people, for example – with Amazon customers.

Those living in Boston and many other cities will be able to see for themselves what v.2 will bring.. . . more

Bankrupt RadioShack aims to sell users’ information

Bankrupt RadioShack aims to sell users’ informationThe demise of RadioShack left techies with one particular significantly less spot to congregate and acquire obscure batteries and soldering equipment. And if that weren’t poor sufficient, now the bankrupt enterprise is attempting to sell off the devotees’ data.

After filing for bankruptcy in early February, RadioShack is generating its way by way of the painful procedure of figuring out how creditors will be paid back — auctioning off true estate and trademarks. Also on the list are much more than 13 million email addresses and 65 million buyer names and physical addresses — as nicely as prospective facts about customers’ purchasing habits.. . . more

Restoration Hardware Q4 beat Street; two new concepts in works

Restoration Hardware Holdings Inc. (RH) reported that its profit for the fourth quarter increased a better-than-expected 25% to $42.5 million from $34.0 million in the year-ago period. The upscale home furnishings company cited the West Coast port slowdown in providing first-quarter guidance that fell short of projections. But it remained upbeat about the long-term, and disclosed that it is working on two new concepts that will be revealed later this year. 

Restoration Hardware’s total sales in the fourth quarter grew 23.5% to $582.7 million.. . . more

Super Stop & Shop puts Key Me kiosks in select stores

Ahold will install KeyMe retail key-making kiosks at select Super Stop & Shop locations in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. The kiosks enable customers to safely store a “digital copy” of their keys in the cloud and create a spare copy at their local Super Stop & Shop in less than 30 seconds. 

The kiosks are also integrated with the free KeyMe mobile app, allowing keys to be saved via the app, then accessed and printed at a kiosk. . . . more

Aldi completed purchase of 66 Bottom Dollar stores from Delhaize

Aldi Inc. has completed its purchase of 66 Bottom Dollar Food stores from the Delhaize Group. The transaction includes the land, buildings and leasehold improvements associated with Delhaize's recently retired Bottom Dollar Food operation.

The purchase is part of a broader plan Aldi launched in December 2013, to open 650 new stores by the end of 2018, with the goal of operating nearly 2,000 stores across the country. . . . more

Retailers ramping up expansion

From extreme-value discounters to c-store operators, retailers across the board are expanding their brick-and-mortar portfolios in 2015. Here’s a review:

• Dollar General will open 730 new stores and remodel 875 existing locations.

• DSW Inc. will open 35 stores, including locations in at least 12 new markets.. . . more

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Life Time Athletic Westwood opening in summer 2015

Image result for life time fitnessLife Time Athletic Westwood at University Station is currently under construction at 44 Harvard Street in Westwood, MA with a planned opening in summer 2015.

Life Time Athletic Westwood will offer members a host of amenities, including indoor and outdoor aquatics centers with zero-depth entry pools; a lap pool; 5 dedicated group exercise, cycle, Pilates and LifePower Yoga studios; 400 pieces of best-in-class cardiovascular and resistance training equipment; two full-size indoor basketball courts; Life Time Kids Academy for kids from three months to 11 years, and LifeSpa, offering full-service hair, nail and skin care services and therapeutic massage. . . . more

Macy’s CFO blames millennials, Netflix and lipstick haters on shifting retail landscape

You lipstick-hating, tech-savvy millennials are killing Macy’s mojo.

On Tuesday, Macy’s CFO Karen Hoguet blamed Netflix Inc. millennials and women who like to shop without wearing makeup on weaknesses in the luxury retail market.

“We did some consumer research, and the customers said, she likes going to the off-price retailers because she doesn’t have to put lipstick on,” Hoguet said at an industry conference, according to a transcript of the event. “I’ve walked through a lot of malls. I’m not sure.. . . more

How Maine Bootmaker L.L. Bean Became Fashion's Hottest Company

In the rarefied world of high fashion it isn’t unusual for a gown or purse to become so sought-after that people will wait in line for it. The list for Herm├Ęs’ prim $70,000 Birkin handbag was once years long. Last year Italian couturier Fendi released a small fox fur and mink key chain in the likeness of designer Karl Lagerfeld and claimed the wait list to pay $1,750 was 600 deep.

So it must come as a shock to global fashionistas that the most coveted item in recent memory costs a mere $109 and comes from the rugged New England town of Freeport, Maine rather than an atelier in Paris or Milan. In December outdoor outfitters L.L. Bean announced that the wait list for its unglamorous, all-weather Bean Boots had reached an incredible 100,000 customers.. . . more

Is a McDonald’s REIT a Foolish Idea?

McDonald’s Corp. is once again facing pressure to spin off its real estate holdings, as shareholder and hedge fund manager Larry Robbins claims the move could unlock $20 billion in value. McDonald’s owns 70 percent of its restaurant buildings and 45 percent of the land those buildings are built on at a time when net-leased real estate is highly prized.

But will McDonald’s management actually listen to the suggestion? And would it be a good idea? Earlier this year, Nation’s Restaurant News ran an article that argued that McDonald’s will never get rid of its real estate assets. The reason is that McDonald’s uses its buildings more as a landlord—renting the space to its franchisees to the tune of $6.1 billion a year and at a profit margin of 82.7 percent—than a restaurant operator.. . . more

Standard General reportedly posts winning bid in RadioShack bankruptcy auction

Standard General prevailed in a bid for the assets of bankrupt electronics retailer RadioShack Corp., according to people familiar with the situation.

Standard General was RadioShack’s largest shareholder and provided a $535 million rescue-financing package to the Fort Worth, Texas-based retailer last year. RadioShack subsequently filed for bankruptcy protection in February. Any sale requires approval of the bankruptcy court in Wilmington, Delaware.. . . more

H&M opening 400 stores in 2015 amid 36% jump in Q1 profit

Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) on Tuesday posted a 36% jump in its first quarter profit, easily beating forecasts, and confirmed earlier reports that it plans to open 400 stores in its current fiscal year, with most of the locations in China and the United States. In New York, it will open a 61,000-sq.-ft. flagship — one of the largest H&Ms to date — in Manhattan’s Herald Square area.
The Swedish fast-fashion giant is also entering a number of markets including Taiwan, Peru, Macau South Africa and India. On the digital front, H&M will enter nine new online markets in 2015: Portugal, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belgium and Switzerland.. . . more

The golden days of “40 percent off” sales are over

If you’re an avid shopper, there’s a good chance you’ve asked yourself some variation of these questions lately: Wasn’t that store offering a “40 percent off your purchase” promotion the last time I came to the mall? And maybe the time before that?

Indeed, such promotions have become a mainstay at major e-commerce sites and brick-and-mortar stores since the economic downturn, when deep discounts seemed to be the only way to get anxious consumers to make a purchase. For years after the recession ended, the promotions bonanza didn’t slow down as retailers realized that shoppers had become hooked on deals and weren’t ready to give them up.. . . more

Five Guys is losing its most important customers

Morgan Stanley Five Guys is losing favor among millennials, according to Morgan Stanley analysts.

Analysts asked millennials which restaurants they were most likely to visit in the next six months, and Five Guys was a clear loser across all generations. . . . more

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Pirch enters the Northeast, opens 20,000-sq.-ft. store at Garden State Plaza

 High-end home appliances and outfitting retailer Pirch will open its first store in the Northeast, at Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey, on March 28.

The 20,000-sq.-ft. store, the company’s eighth to date, allows shoppers to "test-drive" a carefully-curated collection of premier kitchen, bath, laundry, and outdoor living brands in a highly interactive and sensory environment.. . . more

Higher gas costs lift US consumer prices 0.2 percent

A modest rebound in gas costs and broad gains in other categories lifted consumer prices for the first time in four months, a sign inflation may be stabilizing.

The consumer price index rose 0.2 percent in February, the Labor Department said Tuesday, after dropping 0.7 percent the previous month. January's decline was the biggest in six years.. . . more

RadioShack's future rides on bankruptcy auction

An auction Monday afternoon may decide if RadioShack becomes nothing but a distant memory or a seriously slimmed-down electronics retailer trying to survive in a tough market.

All of RadioShack's inventory — and everything else owned by the iconic retailer, whose roots trace back more than 90 years — was on the block. The Fort Worth company, once a haven for ham radios and walkie-talkies, but which never fully embraced the digital age, is facing a live or die moment.. . . more

Big restaurant chains do well overall, but some slip

Bigger is often said to be better, but some big restaurant chains may not agree. The 500 largest restaurant chains in the U.S. accelerated their cumulative sales growth in 2014 to a 4% increase, totaling an estimated $274.4 billion, according to data released by Technomic Inc.

But some of the biggest brands among them, namely Subway and McDonald's, lost ground to focused-menu competitors and emerging fast-casual chains and reported overall sales decreases for the year.. . . more

Many happy returns for REI members

Outdoor retail co-op REI is being very “cooperative” in returning $168 million to its members. In 2014, 945,000 new members joined the co-op, taking active membership to a high of 5.5 million.

For the year, REI reported record annual revenues of $2.2 billion, a 10% increase from 2013. When the co-op performs well, active members receive an annual 10% dividend, based on their eligible annual purchases.

REI reported same-store sales growth, including direct-to-consumer sales, of 4.2%. REI Adventures grew 19.4% in 2014, while REI Outdoor School grew by 28% in 2014 through in-store classes, field programs and day outings.. . . more

Foxwoods New Bedford Casino Still Alive After Gaming Board Grants Extension

A statue of a Native American smoking a ceremonial pipe greets visitors outside the Grand Pequot Tower at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn. Library Tag 03112007 Travel - New England Library Tag 05202007 MetroThe Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted on Thursday to give the developers behind proposed New Bedford and Somerset casinos 46 more days—until Monday, May 4—to complete its applications for the state’s last remaining casino license, in the southeastern part of the state.

Additionally, KG Urban, the developer behind the New Bedford casino, which would be operated by Foxwoods, struck a host city agreement with Mayor John Mitchell Thursday. The agreement will pay New Bedford $12.5 million per year and $4.5 million upfront if the casino is built, according to a news release from KG Urban. It’s a big swing from two weeks ago, when a deal between the city and the developer looked to be just about dead.. . . more

Frank Pepe Pizzeria’s First Boston Location Will Be in Chestnut Hill

Image result for frank pepe pizzeriaFrank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana has settled on a new Boston-area location: Chestnut Hill.

Locally known simply as Pepe’s, the New Haven-based pizzeria will open its new location in The Mall at Chestnut Hill on 199 Boylston Street, which was originally rumored by Boston Restaurant Talk in February. According to the Globe, the pizzeria will fill the 3,200-square-foot, 85-seat space last occupied by Italian restaurant Papa Razzi in June 2013.. . . more

Monday, March 23, 2015

New York & Company swings to Q4 loss, will close stores

New York & Company Inc. reported a net loss of $6.7 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014, compared to net income of $6.9 million in the same quarter a year earlier. A variety of costs, including increased selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses as well as expenses related to relocation of corporate headquarters and severance, contributed to New York & Company’s negative profit results.

For fiscal year 2015, New York & Company expects to open approximately three new New York & Company stores, between 11 and 15 new outlet stores, convert nine New York & Company locations to new outlet stores, remodel between eight and 12 existing stores and close between 18 and 22 stores, ending the fiscal year with between 496 and 504 stores, including between 82 and 86 outlet stores.. . . more

Tiffany swings to Q4 profit: will open 12-15 stores

The elimination of a one-time adverse legal ruling helped Tiffany & Co. swing from loss to profit in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014, but a strengthening dollar hurt overall sales. Tiffany reported net earnings of $196 million, compared to a net loss of $104 million the same period a year earlier.

However, worldwide net sales of $1.28 billion were down 1% from $1.3 billion, with the stronger U.S. dollar negatively impacting foreign sales results. Same-store sales dropped 4%.

During fiscal 2015, Tiffany plans to open a net of 12-15 new company-operated stores across most regions. . . . more

Sorry, J. Crew. Female shoppers just aren’t that into you.

A J. Crew store. (Bloomberg)It wasn’t long ago that J. Crew was the envy of the retail industry. Its distinctive look — well-made basics bedecked with a splash of sequins or a door-knocker-sized necklace — stood out from less adventurous retailers in the same price range and helped the brand triple its revenue and between 2003 and 2013.

And yet 2014 marked a turn in fortunes for the retailer. The company recently reported that sales at its stores open more than a year fell 2 percent in 2014. In the crucial holiday quarter, the brand’s financial picture was especially cloudy, with revenue decreasing slightly to $620.7 million and comparable sales sliding 5 percent.. . . more

Smashburger to Open in Westwood

Smashburger to Open in WestwoodSmashburger, the nation’s “better burger” restaurant, announced Friday that it will open its second New England location at 203 University Ave. at University Station in Westwood.

The restaurant will open at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 1. . . . more

Mattress Firm plans 200-220 new stores in fiscal 2015

Mattress Firm Holding Corp. is revving up its growth in fiscal 2015, with plans to open 200 to 220 new stores.

“We are focused on consolidating our operations in 2015 around our three primary brick and mortar brands, Mattress Firm, Sleep Train and Mattress Pro, allowing us to concentrate on enhancing profitability across the enterprise consistent with our proven relative market share model,” said Steve Stagner, CEO. “We look forward to enhancing our position in 2015 as the nation’s largest mattress specialty retailer.". . . more

Plainville slots parlor scheduled to open June 24

Image result for slot parlorThe first gambling facility authorized under the state's 4-year old casino legislation is scheduled to open June 24.

Officials from Penn National Gaming, the owners of Plainridge, say the facility will also offer dining and entertainment at nine restaurants, retail space and a parking garage. Harness racing will continue.. . . more