Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Sonic sold to Arby's and Buffalo Wild Wings owner for $2.3 billion

CNN Money
Well, Arby's owner is about to get beefier: It's buying hamburger joint Sonic for $2.3 billion.

Inspire Brands, a private equity backed firm that owns Arby's and Buffalo Wild Wings, is paying nearly 20% more for Sonic than what shares were trading at on Monday. . . . more

The #1 factor influencing where consumers shop is …

Chain Store Age
Price is not the only factor that influences where consumers choose to shop.

Sixty-eight percent of customers said cost was the top factor that influences where they shop, according to data from Uberall, a location marketing solution provider. The runner up was proximity, which 55% of people chose as the reason for picking a store. Rounding out the top-five responses were product selection (53%), online customer reviews or ratings (36%) and brand loyalty (34%).. . . more

Without Lampert, Sears would have long since gone under

Chain Store Age
There can be no doubt that Eddie Lampert has made an enormous effort to keep Sears afloat over the past few years; indeed, had Sears been owned by anyone else it would have likely long since gone under.

These latest plans represent a stepping up of the mission to resolve the company’s financial woes. The proposed asset sales are significant as is the offloading of real estate. Should both plans succeed, they would indeed help Sears pay down some of its enormous debt burdens and provide it with a buffer of liquidity. . . . more

Snapchat is testing a camera feature that lets you easily buy items from Amazon

The Verge
Snap and Amazon are making it easier to buy whatever Snapchat users come across in real life. The companies announced a partnership today that’ll let users point their Snapchat camera at a physical product or barcode to then be redirected to an Amazon pop-up card for that product or something similar.

From there, they can load it in the Amazon app or through Amazon.com and then buy the item. Users just have to press and hold the camera screen to activate the function. . . . more

Target is still brick-and-mortar all the way

Retail Leader
Target is showing off what a successful brick-and-mortar strategy looks like by opening a store in its 50th state.

In just a few short weeks, the retailer will open its first-ever store in Vermont, which will mean the company will officially have a Target store in all 50 states.. . . more

Michael Kors acquires Italian fashion house Gianni Versace for $2.1 billion

USA Today
Luxury goods maker Michael Kors Holdings reached a deal to acquire Italian fashion house Gianni Versace in a move aimed at giving the combined company further runway for growth.

The deal will enable the luxury goods company to open about 100 new stores throughout the world, up from about 200 today, and expand online sales.. . . more

A new formula for retail rents

Retail Leader
Could the evolution of U.S. retail stores into showroom-type spaces, whether operated by clicks-to-bricks retailers or mainline chains with advanced multichannel strategies, ultimately alter the traditional landlord-tenant rent structure?

Consider some of the directions in which retail already appears to be headed.. . . more

Washington REIT Is Said to Explore Sale of Retail Portfolio

Washington Real Estate Investment Trust is exploring the sale of its retail portfolio, according to people familiar with the matter.

The D.C.-based REIT is working with an adviser, which has contacted potential buyers, said the people, who asked not to be named because the information is private. The portfolio could fetch roughly $800 million, one of the people said. . . . more

Monday, September 24, 2018

Retail stores starting to rise from the dead, data shows

FOX Business
America’s retail sector, squeezed by e-commerce competitors, has struggled over last few years to keep their doors open. However, a blossoming U.S. economy has given consumers a reason to head back into malls, according to data analytics company ShopperTrak.

ShopperTrak’s Brian Field told FOX Business on Friday that his company, which specializes in retail analytics, found that retailers are starting to see more customers.. . . more

Sears CEO Pushes a Rescue Plan to Avoid Bankruptcy

The Wall Street Journal
Warning that Sears Holdings Corp. is running out of time and money, CEO Edward Lampert is making his biggest push yet to restructure the retailer to avoid a bankruptcy filing, as a debt payment looms next month.

Mr. Lampert, who is also Sears’s chairman, controlling shareholder and biggest creditor, wants creditors to restructure about $1.1 billion of debt coming due in 2019 and 2020, according to a proposal made public on Monday.. . . more

Five holiday predictions

Chain Store Age
In advance of the 2018 holiday rush, here are five predictions for the upcoming shopping season from Ryne Misso, director of marketing for Market Track, a provider of market intelligence solutions:

*Stores reclaiming their place under the tree

Holiday 2017 saw a resurgence in enthusiasm towards Black Friday in-store shopping. The resurgence was attributed to several factors, from a strengthening economy, to retailers removing timing restrictions on their sale events. Another factor that should gain even more traction during holiday 2018 is retailers using their physical store locations as value differentiators.. . . more

AT&T to open new concept store—complete with ‘state-of-the-art’ coffee cafe

Chain Store Age
AT&T is putting a new spin on wireless retail.

The communications giant on Sept. 29 will open a store in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood under a new banner, The Lounge by AT&T. The first of its kind for the company, the 3,000-sq.-ft. space is designed to be part retail store, part coffeehouse and part hangout space.. . . more

CVS Health CEO talks Aetna, and health care

Chain Store Age
The combination of CVS Health and Aetna will help reduce consumers’ healthcare costs.

That is according to CVS Health president and CEO Larry Merlo, in remarks at Town Hall Los Angeles, a public forum that has addressed key community issues for more than two decades.. . . more

An Arizona city wants a Costco so bad that it threw the company a birthday party

Surprise's economic development team celebrated a special birthday this month with a celebration that looked like any other birthday party.

There were cone party hats, "happy birthday" signs, decorations and a Costco cake.

Except this Costco cake wasn't for one of their team members. It was for Costco. The whole party was for the retail giant.. . . more

Neiman Marcus bondholder says company may be in default

Distressed investor Marble Ridge Capital LP said in a letter to Neiman Marcus Group Ltd LLC that the luxury department store company may be in default on its debt after it moved its Mytheresa business into an entity belonging to the retailer’s private equity owners.

Marble Ridge is working with law firm Brown Rudnick LLP and plans to organize with other creditors to look into the Mytheresa move, according to a person familiar with the matter. The hedge fund last year pursued a similar strategy with Singapore-based Global A&T Electronics Ltd.. . . more

Friday, September 21, 2018

AT&T to open 1,000 new stores, could regain retail lead from T-Mobile

T-Mobile recently passed AT&T in terms of the total number of retail stores it operates. But it appears that AT&T isn’t giving up.

AT&T announced today that it plans to open 1,000 new retail outlets on top of the 5,300 stores it manages today.. . . more

Walmart to launch VR training in all stores nationwide

Chain Store Age
Walmart is embracing virtual reality in a big way.

In October, the discount giant will launch VR-based employee training at store-level. Walmart will send four Oculus Go VR headsets to every Walmart supercenter, and two units to every Neighborhood Market and discount store in the United States. By the end of 2018, there will be 17,000 headsets available at store-level, a move that will give more than one million Walmart associates access to virtual learning, according to “Walmart Today,” a blog on Walmart’s website.. . . more

New retail concept seeks to reinvent the department store

Chain Store Age
A retail start-up is set to unveil its take on the department store of the future.

Neighborhood Goods announced it will open its first store this November, in Legacy West, a 255-acre open-air retail and restaurant development in the fast-growing town of Plano, Texas. The Dallas-based retailer said it is creating a modern alternative to — and evolution of — the traditional department store.. . . more

Amazon Could Spend $3 Billion on ‘Go’ Stores, Analyst Says

If Amazon.com Inc. proceeds with a plan to open 3,000 cashierless stores by 2021, it could cost as much as $3 billion, according to analysts at Morgan Stanley, but also signal a bigger push by one of the world’s largest companies into the grocery business.

The e-commerce giant is taking a close look at the future of its AmazonGo stores, where shoppers use a smartphone to make purchases. Amazon unveiled the first such store near its headquarters in Seattle in 2016 and has since announced two additional sites in its hometown and one in Chicago. Some of the shops only offer a limited selection of salads, sandwiches and snacks, while others have a small selection of groceries, making it more akin to a convenience store.. . . more

Walmart Pulls Out All the Stops to Battle Amazon but hasn’t Forgotten its Brick-and-Mortar Competition

While Walmart is increasingly cognizant about competing with Amazon and other online retailers in growing its e-commerce volume, the retail behemoth hasn’t lost a step at its stores. It’s omnichannel strategy includes beefing up its online sales, improving its mobile and same-day delivery capabilities and broadening its appeal to shoppers. The result: In the second quarter the world’s largest retailer saw a surge in digital sales alongside its fastest same-store sales growth in more than a decade.

Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce sales climbed 40 percent—a big jump from previous quarters—and company officials said their online sales are on track to rise about 40 percent for the full year. This is an indication that the company’s grocery delivery options and redesigned website are reaping results. Meanwhile, store traffic was up more than 2 percent and U.S. same-store sales increased 4.5 percent. . . . more

Toys R Us nostalgia may not be enough to fuel toy sales this holiday season

Nostalgia over the loss of Toys R Us may have boosted toy sales in the beginning of the year, but it might not be enough to fuel holiday sales.

While there was renewed optimism about the state of the toy industry after a 7 percent jump in sales from January to June, UBS analyst Arpine Kocharyan is skeptical the trend will endure.

Kocharyan said that toy sales in July and August were down in the high-single digits, with September continuing that downward trend.. . . more

Marijuana commission close to grinding out final licenses

Boston Herald
Marijuana regulators have completed at least one final inspection of a retail marijuana shop and more are scheduled, inching the Cannabis Control Commission closer to launching an industry it had hoped to get up and running almost three months ago.

The commission had issued 30 provisional licenses for marijuana businesses ahead of yesterday’s meeting, including 11 retail stores, but none of the businesses can open to customers until the CCC inspects the property, certifies the business is in compliance with the law and state regulations, and then votes to issue a final license.. . . more

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Deloitte forecasts holiday sales to climb 5% to 5.6%

Chain Store Age
Total holiday sales are expected to exceed $1.10 trillion between November and January, increasing 5% to 5.6% over last year’s shopping season, according to Deloitte’s annual retail holiday sales forecast. 

Additionally, Deloitte forecasts a 17% to 22% increase in online sales in 2018 (compared with 16.6% increase in 2017). E-commerce sales are expected to reach $128 to $134 billion during the 2018 holiday season.. . . more

The Prime Effect: How Amazon’s 2-Day Shipping Is Disrupting Retail

The Wall Street Journal
Alongside life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, you can now add another inalienable right: two-day shipping on practically everything.

Amazon.com Inc. has made its Prime program the gold standard for all other online retailers, according to surveys of consumers. The $119-a-year Prime program—which now includes more than 100 million members worldwide—has triggered an arms race among the largest retailers, and turned many smaller sellers into remoras who cling for life to the bigger fish. . . . more

Fenway's developer Samuels & Associates sets sights on Southie

Boston Business Journal
Boston-based Samuels & Associates, the real-estate development firm that made its name transforming much of the city’s Fenway neighborhood into a mixed-use mecca, is setting its sights on another neighborhood: Southie.

Samuels is partnering with Core Investments Inc. to develop Washington Village, a $400 million, eight-building mixed-use development near South Boston’s Andrew Square. The project will include a 656 housing units and 100,000 square feet of retail, with buildings ranging in height from three to 21 stories, on a 5-acre site bounded by Damrell Street, Old Colony Avenue and Dorchester Street.. . . more

How Dead Malls Are Resurrecting As Something Else

Back in 1975, Red Bird Mall was the only enclosed regional mall in the southern half of Dallas, but like many malls across the nation, it eventually fell on hard times. 

The 1.1M SF mall was renamed Southwest Center Mall and has struggled since the early 1990s with multiple owners, foreclosures, bankruptcies, vacant storefronts and empty parking lots. 

Many regional malls across the nation have similar stories. . . . more

Pizza and Pasta Spots to Fill Century-Old Fish Market’s Void in the South End

Two South End stalwarts closed in May — the 115-year-old Morse Fish Company seafood market and cafe and the adjacent Harry O’s pizzeria and sub shop, which had been around for over 30 years — and now their replacements are lined up.

Black Jack Pasta Kitchen will move into the former Morse space (1401 Washington St., Boston), serving grab-and-go pasta, while Union Park Pizza will occupy the old Harry O’s space (1405 Washington St., Boston), serving flatbreads, per an announcement this week from Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty. . . . more

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Times Square’s newest extravagance: 46 stories of maximalist retail

Fast Company
A $2.5 billion project will bring down the old DoubleTree hotel in Times Square and, in its place, erect a 46-story building with a soaring LED flecked tower, three full-bleed screens, and a sweeping open stage that hovers 30 feet above the red staircase of the TKTS ticket booth.

The TSX Broadway building, as it’s been dubbed, is a three-year project being developed through a partnership with L&L Holding Company, Maefield Development, and Fortress Investment Group that will begin construction in early 2019. It is a maximalist vision of futuristic retail. . . . more

Amazon Will Consider Opening Up to 3,000 Cashierless Stores by 2021

Yahoo Finance
Amazon.com Inc. is considering a plan to open as many as 3,000 new AmazonGo cashierless stores in the next few years, according to people familiar with matter, an aggressive and costly expansion that would threaten convenience chains like 7-Eleven Inc., quick-service sandwich shops like Subway and Panera Bread, and mom-and-pop pizzerias and taco trucks.

Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos sees eliminating meal-time logjams in busy cities as the best way for Amazon to reinvent the brick-and-mortar shopping experience, where most spending still occurs. But he’s still experimenting with the best format: a convenience store that sells fresh prepared foods as well as a limited grocery selection similar to 7-Eleven franchises, or a place to simply pick up a quick bite to eat for people in a rush, similar to the U.K.-based chain Pret a Manger, one of the people said.. . . more

Can Barnes & Noble be saved?

Retail Dive
The intensifying struggles of the last remaining national U.S. bookstore chain indicate a hard truth: big-box book selling may be over.

Sure, Amazon can be blamed in part — the ease of browsing titles and buying online (nearly always at a discount) then having items shipped directly to one's door for free is a convenience play that's hard for consumers to pass up. But the rise of e-commerce and e-books aren't the only reasons Barnes & Noble has been spinning its wheels on a turnaround plan. Consistently declining sales may have more to do with an inability to remake itself in a different era of retail — and a lack of stable leadership to guide that transformation.. . . more

The busiest shopping day of the year will be…

Chain Store Age
Black Friday is still No. 1.

That’s according to an annual survey by ShopperTrak predicting the 10 busiest holiday shopping days. Black Friday, November 23, earned the top spot again this year. Super Saturday, Dec. 22, and Saturday, Dec. 15, are expected to be the second and third busiest shopping days, respectively.. . . more

Banks should be worried about Amazon robbing their business — here's why

Business Insider
Amazon is likely to find some ready customers if it follows through with its reported plans to launch a banking service.

And that could be bad news for traditional retail banks.

Significant portions of consumers — including nearly two-thirds of Amazon Prime subscribers — say they would sign up for a free checking account from the e-tail giant, consulting firm Bain & Co. said in a new report. Meanwhile, consumers expressed much more loyalty to Amazon than to national or even regional banks, Bain reported.. . . more

Rent-A-Center shareholders approve sale, but FTC antitrust review means it may have to sell stores

The Dallas Morning News
Rent-A-Center shareholders voted on Tuesday to approve the sale of the Plano-based company to Florida-based Vintage Capital Management, but the deal is still undergoing antitrust review.

The rent-to-own retailer's board in June approved the sale valued at $1.365 billion including debt, or $15 a share to Vintage, which is the controlling shareholder of Buddy's Home Furnishings, a competitor of Rent-A--Center. . . . more

Retailers could ring up more than $1.1 trillion in holiday sales, topping last year

Retailers appear to have the odds in their favor this holiday season, with record-low unemployment across the U.S., strong consumer confidence and building sales momentum so far in 2018.

Retail sales are expected to grow between 5 and 5.6 percent from a year ago, according to Deloitte's annual forecast for the holiday season, which was released Wednesday. For comparison, sales between November of last year and January 2018 climbed 5 percent, totaling $1.05 trillion, according to data from the U.S. Commerce Department. This year, Deloitte says holiday retail sales could top $1.10 trillion.. . . more

What Institutional Investors Want in this Stage of the CRE Cycle

Whether it’s in a more favored sector like multifamily, a less attractive sector like retail or a somewhat in-between sector like office, the best paths for institutional investors to drive value these days are the ones less traveled.

That’s the assessment of Jacques Gordon, global head of research and strategy at real estate investment management firm LaSalle Investment Management. And other experts in the sector echo those sentiments.. . . more

State's first retail pot shop likely won't open until at least October

Boston Business Journal
It appears that the Cannabis Control Commission's final go-ahead for a retail marijuana store to open will not come this week, pushing the opening of the first retail shop into at least October.

The CCC released the agenda for its Thursday meeting — expected to be the CCC's last meeting for the month — and it calls for commissioners to vote on eight new business licenses, but does not include a vote on granting a final license to one of the 11 retail stores or seven cultivation facilities already given provisional licenses.. . . more

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

One year later: Toys R Us' fatal journey through Chapter 11

Retail Dive
A year has passed since Toys R Us filed for Chapter 11 protection. Since then, much of the retail world, including this publication, has obsessed over every turn of events in the retailer's case and turnaround efforts.

There's good reason for that. By assets, Toys R Us is the third-largest retail bankruptcy ever, behind Kmart and Federated Department stores, according to Bankruptcydata.com. The retailer, which generated $11.5 billion in yearly sales, also represented the last national dedicated toy store and was one of the largest sellers of infant products. Its bankruptcy and following liquidation opened major holes in the market in the U.S. and abroad. . . . more

Claire's lenders come to truce in bankruptcy fight

Retail Dive
Ahead of filing, Claire's gave itself the best chance of exiting from bankruptcy by negotiating a plan with major lenders ahead of Chapter 11.

But just because a pre-negotiated bankruptcy plan is the smoothest path toward a successful retail reorganization doesn't mean everybody involved comes out ahead. Plenty of stakeholders — employees, landlords, vendors and lower-tier lenders among them — can get burned when a retailer restructures in Chapter 11.. . . more

Macy’s adding more in-store technology, partnering with Facebook

Chain Store Age
Macy’s is making some bold moves in its stores in time for the holiday shopping season.

The department store giant announced it is adding enhanced in-store technologies to make its customers shopping journeys “more convenient, efficient and fun.” The new features include both virtual reality and augmented reality furniture and beauty experiences that will enable customers to discover product and make more informed buying decisions.

The retailer also said it is partnering with Facebook to bring in nearly 150 online brands to its pop-up concept, The Market @ Macy’s, across nine stores this holiday. . . . more

Off-Price Chains Continue to Roll, but how Long Can the Good Times Last?

While department stores have faced intense pressures from Amazon and the growth of online sales more generally, consumers continue to head to brick-and-mortar, off-price chains in healthy numbers, keeping the performance of that sector stable.

Off-price retailers sell racks of second-hand merchandise, closeouts, last season’s products, overruns and returns from other apparel companies at rock-bottom prices. The rapidly shifting inventory and “treasure hunt” experience help draw shoppers in. Furthermore, while apparel sales account for the bulk of sales at off-price chains like TJ Maxx, Ross Dress for Less and others, many companies are looking for ways to increase their product mix, with the home products category gaining popularity.. . . more

Target rolls out Prologue, its latest women's fashion brand

Target Corp. is now rolling out Prologue, its latest brand of women’s apparel, with plans to have it available in stores and online nationwide by Friday.

The new line – which has a modern, minimalist and sleek look – is a continuation of the Minneapolis-based retail chain’s ongoing strategy to revamp its collection of store brands on everything from housewares to fashion. Target has introduced more than a dozen house brands in the past 18 months.. . . more

Americans staying home to eat

The Columbus Dispatch
Home cooking would be making a comeback if it ever really went away.

Restaurants are getting dinged by the convenience of Netflix, the advent of pre-made meals and the spread of online grocery delivery, plus crushing student debt and a focus on healthy eating. Eighty-two percent of American meals are prepared at home — more than were cooked 10 years ago, according to researcher NPD Group Inc.. . . more

Neiman Marcus ends its year with sales up in all four quarters, but still facing huge debt

The Dallas Morning News
Neiman Marcus continued its streak of quarterly sales gains and significantly lowered its loss in the recent quarter as it enters a pivotal year.

The Dallas-based luxury retailer reported a sales increase of 2.3 percent to $1.13 billion in its fiscal fourth quarter and narrowed its loss to $75 million. That compared with sales of $1.12 billion and a loss of $366 million last year, which included a charge to lower the value of the company on its books.. . . more

Monday, September 17, 2018

Retail rents, vacancies stabilizing

Retail Dive
With the demise of Toys R Us increasingly in the rear view, the worst for various types of shopping centers is likely over for the time being.

"The Toys R Us store closings impacted the second quarter statistics more than any other retailer has in any quarter over the last nine years," according to the Reis report, which noted more than 80 Toys R Us store closures in more than 40 areas in the quarter. "That said, we believe most of the Toys R Us stores are now closed and that most of the negative net absorption is behind us. Although we do not expect the vacancy rate to improve in the near future, it will not increase that much more in the coming quarters.". . . more

Another retailer is getting in the restaurant business

Chain Store Age
Home furnishings stores are shaping up as fertile ground for restaurants.

Crate & Barrel will open a full-service restaurant in its store at Oakbrook Center, Oakbrook, Ill., next spring, reported the Chicago Tribune. The news comes as another home furnishings retailer, RH (formerly Restoration Hardware), unveiled its fifth restaurant, at its new location in Manhattan.

The restaurant planned for Crate & Barrel is a partnership between the retailer and Chicago’s Cornerstone Restaurant Group.. . . more

We went shopping at Hollister and saw how it could be Abercrombie's secret weapon

Business Insider
While Abercrombie & Fitch has had to make some major changes to its brand over the past few years, its sister brand Hollister has been doing relatively well.

Hollister is generally priced lower than Abercrombie and tends to support it similarly to how Old Navy supports Gap. It's meant to appeal to a younger crowd of shoppers and has a California-inspired theme. In the second quarter, comparable sales were up 2% at Abercrombie and 4% at Hollister, according to a company press release. It was the seventh consecutive quarter of growth for the Hollister brand.. . . more

Out of Stock This Holiday Season: Store Workers

The Wall Street Journal
Shoppers are filing back into stores ahead of the holiday season. Unfortunately for retailers, workers are not.

Staffing up for the year-end crush is an annual challenge for retailers. But with unemployment at record lows, this year is shaping up to be an exceptional slog.. . . more

Sears Downsizing is Scary

Sears Holding’s recent report of second quarter 2018 sales was scary. The closing of 382 stores since last year’s second quarter, and the proposed closing of 46 more stores, is a stark reminder that the management is winding down the operation. There are now 360 Kmart stores and 506 Sears Roebuck stores in operation. In contrast, in 2005, there were about 1600 Kmart stores and 2300 Sears brand stores in operation.

The company reported a net loss of $508 Million for the second quarter compared to a loss of $250 Million in the previous year. Total revenues plummeted 25.6% from $4.3 Billion to $3.2 Billion largely due to store closings. But, even comparable sales dropped 3.9% in the quarter, although July and August comps showed an improvement of 3.0% and 2.5%, respectively.. . . more

US Holiday Outlook 2018: Looking for 4% Growth with E-Commerce Set to Capture One in Every Five Nonfood Dollars

Coresight Research
Despite a substantial number of announcements of US store closures this year, 2018 is shaping up to be a bumper year for US retail with the sector growing very strongly, per the US Census Bureau, and with even long-struggling legacy retailers turning in better-than-expected top-line figures.

We are optimistic about the prospects for holiday sales this year and forecast year-over-year growth of 4% for November and December total retail sales (excluding automobiles and gasoline). This will take total holiday retail sales to $720 billion from $692 billion last year.. . . more

Friday, September 14, 2018

Henri Bendel is closing after 123 years

New York Post
Henri Bendel — the iconic department store known for bringing Coco Chanel to the US and launching generations of so-call “Bendel Girls” — is shutting its doors after 123 years.

The decision to turn out the lights in January at all 23 of Bendel’s swanky stores — including its landmark flagship on Fifth Avenue — was announced Friday by parent company L Brands, which also owns Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works. . . . more

U.S. Retail Sales Rose Slightly in August

The Wall Street Journal
American consumers reined in their spending in August, taking a breather after very strong sales growth in July.

Sales at retail stores and restaurants rose 0.1% from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted $509 billion in August, the Commerce Department said Friday.

That was well below the 0.4% increase economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected. Compared with August a year earlier, sales grew 6.6%. . . . more

Sears built the suspense, then reported another bad quarter

CNN Money
Sears Holdings, which owns the Sears and Kmart brands, reported yet another huge loss in the second quarter — $508 million, about twice as much as it lost a year earlier.

Overall sales plunged by more than a quarter, mostly because of store closings. Sales at stores that stayed open were down 4%, and they were up in July and August. . . . more

Big winners after Toys R Us' death are still Walmart and Target, but also Costco

Retailers are scrambling to fill the void left behind by Toys R Us by convincing shoppers their stores are the go-to place to find toys this holiday season.

The biggest winners so far appear to be Walmart and Target, according to a study by Gordon Haskett Research Advisors in partnership with data provider Alpha Hat. They surveyed more than 50,000 people who had shopped Toys R Us in July of last year and then shopped another retailer after Toys R Us' stores were all closed, in July 2018, noting where those people chose to go otherwise.. . . more

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Augusta's Turnpike Mall goes on the market

One of Augusta's longtime retail magnets is up for sale.

CBRE|The Boulos Co. is marketing the Turnpike Mall, a 214,900-square-foot shopping center on 26 acres, with an address of 10 Whitten Road, is off exit 109A from I-95.

The mall was built in 1967 and had extensive renovations in 2001 and 2006, according to its marketing brochure. It is being offered without an asking price.. . . more

Sullivan TIre acquires Montvale Tire, 2 Boston-area retail stores

Tire Business
Sullivan Tire and Auto Service has acquired Montvale Tire Car Care Centers, a 50-year-old dealership with stores in the northern Boston suburbs of Melrose and Woburn, Mass.

The acquisition extends the network of Sullivan Tire Auto Service Centers to 71 throughout New England, including 43 in Massachusetts. Financial terms were not disclosed. . . . more

KeyPoint Retail Report Shows Growth in Entertainment and Wholesale Clubs

Boston Real Estate Times
KeyPoint Partners, LLC has released The KeyPoint Report for Southern New Hampshire 2018, reporting a retail vacancy of 9.3 percent, up from 9.1 percent a year ago.

The report was released by Bob Sheehan, Vice President of Research at KeyPoint. This comprehensive retail real estate Report examines supply, occupancy, absorption, and retailer expansion and contraction for virtually every retail property in the region. . . . more

Southern New Hampshire retail space picture looks like last year’s

NH Business Review
There was a very slight annual gain in total retail space in southern New Hampshire, according to a newly released report.

KeyPoint Partners, in its “KeyPoint Report for Southern New Hampshire 2018,” found that retail inventory in the region totaled 29.8 million square feet in 2018, a negligible gain of 42,900 square feet from a year ago.. . . more

A Sears closes and a new idea takes shape at a Massachusetts mall

Chain Store Age
The day after the Sears closed at Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Massachusetts, the owners hired Cushman and Wakefield to open a new chapter for the 87-acre property that was the town’s first enclosed mall when it opened in 1967.

What Cushman and owner Mountain Development have in mind for Eastfield is a mixed-use renovation blending retail with residential in a “main street” lifestyle center setting. It’s become a common scenario in an over-malled retail industry struggling to find its place in 21st Century America. . . . more

New York & Co. is changing its name, launching new brands

Chain Store Age
New York & Co. on Tuesday announced it is changing its name to RTW Retailwinds to reflect “the ability to grow the portfolio of lifestyle brands into new categories and markets.”

The name change, expected to occur in October, is part of New York & Co.’s new strategy that is designed to drive sales to over $1 billion. It includes such new initiatives as expanding the company’s plus-size brand, Fashion to Figure (which it acquired at a bankruptcy auction last year), introducing a lingerie lifestyle brand, and debuting a Kate Hudson casual lifestyle collection. Both the lingerie brand and the Kate Hudson collection will have their own digital sites. . . . more

Online holiday sales to increase 15%, according to forecast

Chain Store Age
E-commerce sales will rise this year — and so will Amazon’s share of the pie.

That’s according to retail search marketing company NetElix, which is predicting e-commerce growth of 15% this year, up from 13% last year. It also projects that Amazon will take 40% of online holiday sales this year, up from 35% in 2017. . . . more

Can Outlet Centers Continue to Succeed by Luring Shoppers with Bargains and ‘Experience?’

As regional malls continue to grapple with tenant bankruptcies and store closings, outlet centers by many accounts have been thriving.

Shopping centers offering an “experience” and value retail are faring well overall. Outlet centers boast both the “bargain hunting thrill” and deals that are often difficult to find through e-commerce channels.. . . more

Mall rents continued to fall in second quarter

Chain Store Age
The great American mall shakeout continued in the second quarter, with Class A malls in stronger markets flourishing and lesser properties struggling.

Mall tenants are the beneficiaries. Rents at malls fell 4.6% from Q1 and now stand 7.1% lower than they were one year ago, according to JLL’s Q2 Retail Outlook. Due to an abundance of anchor store closings, year-to-date net absorption surpassed 2 million sq. ft. . . . more

Good news for retailers this holiday season: Americans are spending on big-ticket items

The Washington Post
Americans spent a record $2 billion online on Labor Day, making it one of the biggest online shopping days of the year and giving new hope to retailers ahead of the closely watched holiday season.

Online spending on Labor Day grew 23 percent to $2.08 billion, from $1.69 billion a year earlier, as shoppers bought big-ticket items like electronics, appliances, mattresses and grills, according to data from Adobe Analytics being released Friday.. . . more

Target to hire 120,000 seasonal workers to handle holidays

Target Corp. announced Thursday it plans to hire about 120,000 seasonal workers for the upcoming holiday season — 20 percent more than last year — and will up its starting pay by $1 an hour.

As consumers increasingly shift to online shopping, the Minneapolis-based retailer said it will double the number of workers dedicated to handling in-store pickup and curbside service, and boost its workforce at distribution warehouses by about two-thirds from last year. . . . more

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Big Retailers Shrink Stores to Boost Sales

Fast-food chain Taco Bell's plan to open 300 new small-format restaurants across the country in the next four years is the latest by a slew of major national brands experimenting with smaller stores to cut real estate costs and cater to urban millennials.

Taco Bell, Barnes & Noble Inc., Whole Foods Market, Kohl’s Corp., Nike Inc., Target Corp. and Nordstrom Inc. are just a handful of major brands looking to increase market share and wring out more dollars per square foot of space in expensive urban markets by opening smaller brick-and-mortar stores. . . . more

1031 Buyers Retain a Strong Appetite for Fast Food

Consumer tastes may be shifting to healthier fare with organic, sustainable and farm-to-table choices, but the flavor of the month for 1031 exchange investors remains firmly focused on quick service staples that include the likes of McDonald’s, KFC and Dunkin Donuts.

The net lease quick service restaurant (QSR) investment sales market continues to do well, because it fits everyone’s favorite buzz word of the moment—e-commerce resistant, says Randy Blankstein, president of The Boulder Group, a net lease real estate consulting firm. “QSRs are more popular now than five or 10 years ago when people viewed them as specialized properties,” he says. . . . more

Prime members ready to buy Rx from Amazon

Chain Store Age
According to a study from Deutsche Bank, 85% of insured Prime members would be comfortable buying drugs straight from Amazon, posing a huge opportunity for the e-commerce giant, according to CNBC.

Growing interest from Prime members combined with Amazon’s acquisition of online pharmacy PillPack could position the online retailer to become a strong force in the healthcare segment. . . . more

Macy’s planning for a ‘strong’ holiday

Chain Store Age
Macy’s holiday hiring plans are on track with last year, although it is increasing seasonal workers in a fast-growing area of its business.

The department store giant said Wednesday it will hire 80,000 seasonal workers as it looks to a “strong and successful” holiday shopping season. While stores (Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s) still account for a majority of the hires, approximately 23,500 of the 80,000 total seasonal positions this year will be based in direct-to-consumer fulfillment facilities. This is 5,500 more positions than were hired for this area than in 2017, reflecting the growth of Macy’s omnichannel business strategy.. . . more

Experiential store pioneer makes U.S. debut

Chain Store Age
One of the most celebrated stores in Italy — a pioneer of retail concept destinations — has dropped anchor in the United States.

Milan-based 10 Corso Como has opened its first U.S. store, in the Seaport District in Lower Manhattan. The 28,000-sq-.ft. space, taking up the entire first floor of the Fulton Market Building, combines art, luxury fashions and other retail — and a bit of hospitality. It features on-trend fashions, books, beauty items, and design objects along with an Italian cafĂ© and restaurant, garden, and art gallery.. . . more

Zara’s Upbeat Outlook Eases Concerns About Online Competition

The Wall Street Journal
Zara’s parent company on Wednesday said it would continue to expand online as it reported upbeat first-half results versus competitors and gave a positive outlook, helping the world’s largest fashion retailer allay investor concerns it can’t keep pace with online-only rivals.

Inditex SA, whose brands also include Massimo Dutti and Pull&Bear, said sales at stores open for at least a year rose 4% in the six months to July 31 and that it expected comparable sales growth of 4% to 6% in the second half. While that’s below recent years, when Zara was notching up to 10% year-over-year growth, it is stronger than many peers.. . . more

Don’t believe the hype about Amazon ‘savings’ at Whole Foods

NY Post
Whole Foods shoppers may think they are paying less for their kale, organic milk, blackberries and bison filets since Amazon bought the pricey grocer more than a year ago — but they really aren’t, according to a new report.

Despite the Amazon hype, prices in Whole Foods’ 490 stores across the country — even after shoppers pony up cash for the Prime discount — come down by just $1.54 on a $400 basket of groceries, according to the report.. . . more

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Government May Want to Buy Your Dying Mall

The Wall Street Journal
Local governments across the U.S. are taking over dying shopping malls.

These municipalities, concerned that vacated retail centers will blight the landscape and drag down surrounding property values, have been buying up malls they fear are being starved of capital by the private sector.. . . more

Retailers under pressure despite recent gains

Retail Dive
While the notion of a retail apocalypse has been overplayed, so is the idea of an enduring retail bounce, according to the Financial Times.

Much of the reinvestment cited in the report involves retailers' moves to boost their e-commerce and omnichannel sales, which costs money in the near term but also pressures margins in light of the ongoing expense of fulfillment for digital sales. Those sales these days account for a disproportionate share of total retail sales growth, with U.S. e-commerce growth stoking nearly half (46%) of total retail growth over the past year, which is more than 15 percentage points since late 2014, according to data from global business advisory firm FTI Consulting emailed to Retail Dive. And that is often at the expense of brick-and-mortar sales.
. . . more

Amazon reportedly has new deal to boost grocery delivery usage

Chain Store Age
Amazon wants American Express cardholders who haven’t used Prime Now to give it a try.

The online giant is offering American Express cardholders $20 off their first Prime Now grocery delivery order, according to Business Insider.. . . more

Fast Food’s Got a Netflix Problem as Americans Prefer to Dine in

Home cooking would be making a comeback if it ever really went away.

Restaurants are getting dinged by the convenience of Netflix, the advent of pre-made meals, the spread of online grocery delivery, plus crushing student debt and a focus on healthy eating. Eighty-two percent of American meals are prepared at home -- more than were cooked 10 years ago, according to researcher NPD Group Inc. The latest peak in restaurant-going was in 2000, when the average American dined out 216 times a year. That figure fell to 185 for the year ended in February, NPD said.. . . more

Think fast, think small: How Kohl's rode the omnichannel wave

Retail Dive
The "retail renaissance" is upon us if the headlines are to be believed, and several players who generated major worries that brick and mortar may never recover just five years ago are making triumphant comebacks. One such player is suburban big box retailer Kohl’s.

Kohl’s has made some significant changes to its operation in order to ride the very changeable wave that is the integration of e-commerce and brick and mortar retail, the most celebrated of which is a program to accept Amazon returns in some Kohl’s stores (even without packaging).. . . more

How a record store is beating the odds

Retail Dive
In 1989, when Bull Moose first launched as a record store in a small city in Maine, it didn't seem disruptive. Compact disc sales were brisk then even at fairly high prices, the store was in a college town that provided a steady stream of customers, and streaming and file sharing were still years away.

A decade later, however, along came Napster, and then iTunes, the kinds of services now getting disrupted in turn by streaming sites like Spotify that are destroying the very idea of owning music. . . . more

Duluth Holdings' Sales and Profits Surge on Retail Strength

The Motley Fool
Duluth Holdings reported its fiscal second-quarter results on Thursday, Sept. 5. Sales continue to surge on the back of new store openings and steady growth in the direct sales business. When combined with lower spending on advertising and marketing, Duluth's bottom line expanded rapidly during the last three months.

The strong top-line growth was driven by a 6% uptick in direct sales and 74% growth in retail sales. New store openings were the primary reason retail store sales continued to soar. Total sales of $110.7 million came in $4 million higher than Wall Street's prediction.. . . more

Monday, September 10, 2018

Aldi firing on all cylinders

Supermarket News
In perhaps the most intense competitive period ever for the U.S. supermarket industry, Aldi stands out from the crowd.

Supermarkets were already grappling with stiff competition from multiple channels — discounters, warehouse clubs and drug, dollar and convenience stores, among others — when in August 2017 Amazon turned retail grocery upside down with its acquisition of Whole Foods Markets.. . . more

Green Street Predicts Continued Flattening in Commercial Real Estate Prices

Commercial property prices appear to have stabilized, a trend likely to persist for six to 12 months, according to research firm Green Street Advisors.

Property prices have cooled over the past couple of years, and Green Street’s aggregate CPPI has remained at roughly the same level as it was two years ago, said Peter Rothemund, senior analyst of strategic research at the firm.. . . more

Breaking Down the Online Sales Tax and its Effect on Free Shipping

Chain Store Age
Competition continues to heat up within the retail industry as online-only retailers will now be required to collect state and local sales tax. Many details still need to be worked out and there’s no set date when this will take effect – but this is no small piece of news. To that end, this soon to be eliminated benefit for retailers (previously not having to collect these taxes), along with free shipping, helped propel the rise of e-commerce to the point that it now represents about 10% of total retail.

But “free shipping,” of course, is not really free – someone has to pay for it – and now that online retailers have to pay sales tax, will they be able to afford free shipping as well?. . . more

Why one fifth of Manhattan storefronts are vacant

The Real Deal
Despite a boom in development and tourism, life for NYC’s retailers is getting worse and worse.

Douglas Elliman’s recent survey of Manhattan found that 20 percent of storefronts were vacant, compared with the brokerage’s 2016 results that found 7 percent vacancy. Borough president Gale Brewer conducted a study last year that found 188 empty stores along Broadway Avenue alone. . . . more

Costco posts another stellar month—and quarter

Chain Store Age
Costco Wholesale Corp. was on fire in August, as total same-store sales rose 9.2% (or 8.9% excluding the impacts of gasoline and currency fluctuations). It was the retailer’s 14th consecutive month of positive comparable sales. Comparable store sales in the U.S. were up 11.3%.

Costco’s online sales surged 23.8% in August. The increase comes amid an increased online push by the retailer, including an updated partnership with Instacart. . . . more

Amazon Go on its way to the Big Apple

Chain Store Age
It looks like Amazon’s cashierless Amazon Go convenience store concept is coming to the big city.

The online giant posted several New York City-based job listings, including store manager and assistant store manager, among other supporting roles, on its website on Thursday. . . . more

Victoria's Secret is broken and its Pink franchise is in the 'early innings' of a long decline

Yahoo Finance
The decline for Victoria's Secret and its Pink branch, owned by L Brands, is just beginning, according to analysts from Jefferies.

Victoria's Secret's August same-store sales dropped 5% compared to the previous year, below the 3.8% decrease expected. That was "despite heavy promotions that drove the merchandise margin down significantly YoY," a team of analysts led by Randal Konik wrote in a note sent out to clients on Thursday.. . . more

Friday, September 7, 2018

U.S. job growth surges; annual wage gain largest since 2009

U.S. job growth accelerated in August and wages notched their largest annual increase in more than nine years, strengthening views that the economy was so far weathering the Trump administration’s escalating trade war with China.

“The economy is on an adrenalin rush,” said Ryan Sweet, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “Given the amount of fiscal stimulus that the economy is benefiting from, it’s going to take a lot to get it off that high.” . . . more

Five Below Earnings Bring Extra Oomph In Q2 After Soggy Q1

Investor's Business Daily
Five Below  — which sells $5 headphones, fake slime, room supplies and other items targeted toward teens and tweens — reported a surprise Q2 same-store sales gain and top and bottom-line results that beat estimates. The company also raised its full-year guidance.

Net sales rose 23% to $347.7 million. Same-store sales rose 2.7%. . . . more

These 21 major retailers are worth less than Amazon…combined

Amazon was valued at $955.1 billion as of market close on Thursday. That makes it worth more than 21 other major retailers, combined – from Walmart to Costco.

Despite its valuation, the e-commerce behemoth generates only a fraction of the retail sales that the other 21 companies do, combined. In fact, Walmart by itself sold almost $500 billion in goods worldwide in 2017, more than three times as much as Amazon, according to Kantor Consulting.. . . more

First cannabis retail store could be approved Sept. 20

Boston 25 News
A handful of the marijuana businesses granted provisional licenses have informed the Cannabis Control Commission they are ready to be inspected, one of the final steps before retail sales of marijuana, approved by voters almost two years ago, can begin.

CCC Chairman Steven Hoffman said Thursday that the agency is working to schedule inspections for two or three provisionally licensed businesses. Hoffman said the inspections are expected to take place "over the next week, plus or minus."

He said it's possible the CCC could vote at its next meeting, Sept. 20, to issue a final license if a business passes its inspection and fulfills other requirements by then. . . . more

Walmart Just Wanted to Sell Pricey Outdoor Gear. Then ‘All Hell Broke Loose.’

The Wall Street Journal
Walmart Inc.’s plan to sell high-end hiking, camping and other outdoor gear on its website hasn’t started well, a sign of the challenges the discount chain faces as it tries to stretch further into Amazon.com Inc.’s territory.

Last week Walmart said it would start selling items including $250 Deuter hiking backpacks and $100 Leki hiking poles, adding to its website brands already sold through Moosejaw, the small outdoor retailer Walmart bought last year. The brands were clustered in a “premium outdoor store” within Walmart.com and curated by Moosejaw.. . . more

GameStop misses profit estimate

GameStop Corp, the world’s largest video game and gaming console retailer, reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday due to lower sales of video game software at its outlets.

GameStop said its comparable store sales fell 0.5 percent in the quarter. Analysts, on average, had expected a 3.5 percent drop in same store sales.. . . more

Barnes & Noble is overrun with problems

CNN Money
Barnes & Noble, already reeling from the messy departure of its chief executive, said on Thursday that same-store sales fell 6.1% last quarter compared with a year ago.

The company attributed the decline to a drop in store traffic. Online sales also dropped 14.3% because of fewer promotions, including in Barnes & Noble's Nook tablet business. . . . more

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Walmart takes on Amazon with crowdsourced delivery pilot

Chain Store Age
Walmart has a new online delivery team — but they aren’t employees and they don’t work for a major delivery company.

The discount giant announced Wednesday that it is testing a crowd-sourced delivery platform service, called Spark Delivery, to get online grocery orders to customers faster. Walmart is piloting the program through a partnership with Bringg, a delivery logistics technology platform. The service is currently being piloted in Nashville and New Orleans, and will debut in “a few more metro areas” this year, according to Walmart. . . . more

Fast-growing 110 Grill restaurant chain bucks industry trend

MetroWest Daily News
The flashy copper awning of 110 Grill has become increasingly difficult to miss in Massachusetts, as the “upscale casual” restaurant chain continues to open new locations at a rapid pace.

Since starting in 2014, 110 Grill – named after Route 110 where it first opened in Chelmsford – is poised to open restaurant No. 16 in Manchester, New Hampshire, with another three to follow soon after in Holyoke, Saugus and Wrentham. At least another five are planned for the next year, and the growth has caught the attention of the industry.. . . more

Consumers’ use of grocery apps to nearly double this year

Chain Store Age
This year, 18.0 million U.S. adults will use a grocery app at least once a month, up 49.6% over last year. This is based on smartphone users who have at least one grocery app on their phone, according to a forecast from eMarketer.

When analyzing the adoption of apps that primarily deliver produce and perishable items, including meal kit services, more than one in five adult smartphone m-commerce buyers will use a grocery app to order food by next year. . . . more

CVS Health, Aetna merger reportedly nears approval

Chain Store Age
The Dept. of Justice is nearing an affirmative decision to CVS Health’s acquisition of Aetna, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing sources familiar with the matter. WSJ’s sources said the final approval could come in the next several weeks.

The report noted that clearing the DOJ’s antitrust hurdles could require the companies to sell off assets having to do with Aetna’s Medicare offerings. WSJ said that WellCare Health Plans is one company in talks as a potential buyer of divested assets.. . . more

Amazon orders 20,000 vans to build delivery fleet, quadrupling its original purchase

USA Today
Amazon has ordered 20,000 vans for its new delivery program in which contractors around the country can launch businesses that deliver packages for the online retailer.

The company said Wednesday that it increased its van order from 4,500 after it was surprised by the number of applications it received. The vans, which are stamped with Amazon's smile logo in blue, can be used by contractors to deliver packages.. . . more

Whole Foods Workers Push to Unionize

The Wall Street Journal
Some Whole Foods employees want to unionize to address what they say are changes to corporate culture and diminished compensation under the ownership of Amazon.com Inc.

A group of workers plans to send an email Thursday to workers at most of the 490 Whole Foods stores urging them to back their unionization drive.. . . more

Amazon Isn’t to Blame for Retail Sector’s Troubles. The Shrinking Middle Class Is.

Despite an economy that has enjoyed almost uninterrupted positive growth since the deep recession of the late 2000s, those who work in and around retail will be quick to tell you that it isn’t all milk and honey for the industry. Turbulence, closures and realignment are the new norm, as the industry explores new concepts and continues to evolve rapidly in response to new challenges and changing circumstances.

There is plenty of discussion and debate about the nature of those challenges. Specifically, there’s a lot of hand-wringing about the impact of online and mobile sales, and a brick-and-mortar landscape that is currently overbuilt by about 20 percent . . . more

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

J.Crew takes the plunge

Chain Store Age
J.Crew Group is shifting strategy and setting up shop on Amazon.

The retailer has opened a dedicated storefront featuring a curated selection of its less expensive J.Crew Mercantile brand on Amazon. In the past, J.Crew has resisted selling its products on the online site.. . . more

Target readies toy expansion ahead of the holidays

Retail Dive
Toys R Us, after stumbling even before its Chapter 11 filing and botched holiday season, shuttered all its stores this summer, leaving toy makers to scramble and other retailers to lick their chops.

Target is in a particularly good position to take up many of those sales, considering that many of its stores are quite near former Toys R Us locations. . . . more

RH waxes poetic, literally, to bricks-and-mortar retail

RH, the retailer formerly known as Restoration Hardware, quoted poet Robert Frost in its quarterly earnings statement Tuesday to double down on its bet on bricks-and-mortar stores and shopping as a life experience.

“While most in our industry are closing or downsizing stores, we remain committed to our quest of revolutionizing physical retailing,” RH RH, -9.29% Chief Executive Gary Friedman said in a letter to shareholders that accompanied the retailer’s second-quarter earnings.. . . more

Amazon opens third cashierless Go store in Seattle

The Seattle Times
Amazon has opened a third cashierless convenience store in downtown Seattle, just a week after its second location started business.

The third Amazon Go store is located at Boren Avenue North and Thomas Street, in the heart of Amazon’s urban campus in South Lake Union. At 2,100 square feet, it’s the biggest store yet for the checkout-free model, which Amazon first revealed to the public in January.. . . more

Zara owner Inditex to sell all its brands online by 2020

Inditex, the world's largest clothing retailer and owner of the Zara chain, said on Tuesday it would sell products from all its brands on the Internet around the world by 2020, including in markets where it does not have any stores.

Faced with younger, online-only merchants like Boohoo.com and Missguided, the Spanish company which pioneered the fast-fashion concept in the 1980s is developing new technologies, pairing up with tech firms and testing new ways of handling stock.. . . more

A push to modernize airports to fuel more shopping

Boston Business Journal
When it comes to commercial real estate, airports offer the two biggest factors linked to retail success: location and foot traffic. The average time a traveler waits at the airport is more than two hours, according to an article published by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Recognizing this, airports large and small are redesigning their buildings and changing the products and services they offer, following the example set over the past two decades by airports in emerging markets.. . . more

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Allbirds is opening a massive store in New York and plans more across the US

Allbirds, the shoe brand that won over Silicon Valley with its wool sneakers, has begun gaining momentum on the East Coast and is opening a massive new store in New York on Tuesday.

Allbirds plans to open eight more stores in the U.S. over the next year, including in Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. . . . more

PREVIEW: The KeyPoint Report for Greater Hartford, CT

KeyPoint Partners
With the releases of the KeyPoint Report on Eastern MA/Greater Boston behind us, and the report for Southern NH in the works, it’s time to move on to the report for Greater Hartford, CT, based on our proprietary GRIID™ retail database. As with the other reports, our modus operandi is to share some of the regional highlights while the complete version is still “baking.” In Greater Hartford, the 2018 retail market was a relatively stable one.

Retail Inventory and Vacancy: Total retail space in Greater Hartford currently totals 37.6 million square feet, a nominal decrease of 47,200 square feet from last year. The change is primarily attributed to a low level of new development and a number of conversions to non-retail space. The region was able to weather the Toys R Us/Babies R Us liquidation, which added more than 172,000 square feet of vacancy to the region, and at the same time benefit from the absorption of other existing vacancy, ending the year with a decline in the vacancy rate to 10.6% . . . more

Department stores' fortunes rise as they shun inventory

Retail Dive
The department store retailers in recent quarters have been able to improve both their top-line sales and margins through better management of their inventory, as well as creating a seamless shopping experience for customers, according to a recent Moody's report emailed to Retail Dive.

Analysts led by Christina Boni pointed to Kohl's fourth straight quarter of comparable sales increases, and also strong sales performances at Macy's and Nordstrom in recent quarters as evidence of sector improvement. During the same period, inventory levels at the stronger department stores have declined.. . . more

Mall REITs: Retail Rejuvenation

Seeking Alpha
Goodbye retail apocalypse, hello retail resurgence. Following a brutal two years for the retail industry, conditions have broadly stabilized and pockets of rejuvenation have emerged.

Tenant sales per square foot have surged nearly 5% over the past year at Class-A malls, consistent with the growth rate of overall retail sales. Mall-based categories have seen a solid recovery.. . . more

Lululemon profits jump in Q2, boosts outlook—again

Chain Store Age
Lululemon’s surging online growth, as well as increasing sales across China contributed to strong second-quarter earnings that topped analysts’ expectations.

Revenue rose 25% to $723.5 million, an increase of 25% compared to $581 million a year ago. 

Same-store sales were up 20%, surpassing analysts forecasts of 9.6% growth. This also included a 48% jump for Lululemon’s direct-to-consumer revenue. . . . more

Big Lots Q2 misses Street

Chain Store Age
Big Lots’ earnings fell short of analysts’ expectations for the second quarter in a row.

Net sales rose to $1.22 billion from $1.21 billion from the same period last year, with the increase in comparable store sales partially offset by a lower store count year-over-year.

Comparable store sales increased 1.6%, compared to the company’s guidance of flat to 2% growth. . . . more

Hard lessons (thanks, Amazon) breathe new life into retail stores

Boston Business Journal
Malls are being hollowed out. Shops are closing by the thousands. Retailers are going bankrupt.

But it may be too early to declare the death of retail. Americans have started shopping more — in stores.

From the garden section at Walmart to the diamond counters at Tiffany & Co., old-school retailers are experiencing some of their best sales growth in years.. . . more

'Apocalypse' overblown: Store openings outpace closings

Boston Business Journal
The fear of an impending “retail apocalypse” is overblown with store openings outpacing closings in 2018 by nearly 4,000 and just a “handful” of retailers responsible for most of the losses, according to a new report from IHL Group.

“There has been a great deal of negative press about retail in the last two years,” Greg Buzek, president of the research and advisory firm told Chain Store Age. “Overall, retail is very healthy… But there are vast differences in retail segments with some growing rapidly and others struggling.”. . . more

As Sears Circles The Drain, Its Real Estate Spinoff Flourishes

Eddie Lampert is the chairman of two companies headed in opposite directions. 

As chairman and CEO of Sears Holdings, Lampert decided to spin off much of the company's real estate — 235 Sears and Kmart stores — into a new real estate investment trust called Seritage Growth Properties in 2015, paying the original company $2.7B to settle some debt obligations. While Sears has continued to bleed money and shutter stores in hopes of avoiding an almost certain end, Seritage has flourished. . . . more

Friday, August 31, 2018

The critical role of search in the retail revolution

Retail Dive
While yesterday's five-and-dimes were made with touchable, material bricks, the stores of tomorrow will be constructed in the cloud on building blocks of data. Data will drive customer experiences that transcend physical limits and redefine the very notion of a store. Long lines, store hours and cash payments will dissipate in a new data-driven ecosystem of always-on relationships.

Every department of every retail organization should be collecting, analyzing and leveraging data to enhance the consumer experience. New types of business data are becoming available daily — from digital to store to beacon to social. To compete, retailers must shift away from disconnected data silos toward connected data graphs. . . . more

Burlington Stores Q2 income surges

Chain Store Age
Burlington Stores’ made a strong showing on its top line in its second quarter.

Total revenue increased 9.9% $1.50 billon, in line with estimates. Same-store sales grew 2.9%, just shy of analyst estimates of 3.0%. . . . more

Signet Q2 earnings, sales well above forecasts

Chain Store Age
The owner of Kay Jewelers, Zales and Jared and other jewelry chains reported earnings and sales that blew past analysts’ estimates amid double-digit online growth and strong sales at most of its banners.

Same-store sales rose 1.7%. Analysts had expected a decline of 4.5%. Same-store sales rose 7.1% at Zales, 11.5% at Piercing Pagoda, and 1.2% at Jared. Same-store sales fell 2.1% at Kay. . . . more

Ulta Beauty earnings jump 30% but outlook misses

Chain Store Age
Ulta Beauty’s second-quarter earnings topped forecasts, but the beauty retailer’s third-quarter guidance disappointed analysts.

Net sales increased 15.4% to $1.488 billion, compared to $1.289 billion million last year. Analysts had expected sales of $1.49 billion.

Same-store sales increased 6.5%, driven by 3.1% transaction growth and 3.4% growth in average ticket. . . . more

Why Dollar General thrives even in a hot economy

CNN Money
Americans living paycheck to paycheck are a boon for dollar stores even as the economy strengthens.

"While the economy is doing very well, our core customer continues to struggle because, normally, her expenses outstripped her wage growth," Dollar General chief executive Todd Vasos told analysts on a conference call Thursday.

He cited rising rent and health care costs as lingering problems for low-income shoppers. . . . more

Walmart will have 30% more toys in stores this holiday season, in a bid to win sales Toys R Us left behind

Walmart said Thursday it is expanding its assortment of toys by 30 percent at all brick-and-mortar locations this holiday season, and it will offer 40 percent more toys on Walmart.com. At some locations, the physical space dedicated to toys also will be larger, Walmart said Thursday at a briefing with the media in New York. In those locations, Walmart will shift space allotted for seasonal goods, like back-to-school merchandise, to toys.

Walmart's goal is to "show customers the best place to shop for toys is Walmart," said Anne Marie Kehoe, the vice president of the retailer's U.S. toy business.. . . more

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Four reasons why shoppers are in the mood to spend

The Spokesman-Review
The store isn’t dead for Home Depot, Kohl’s, Best Buy or Target. Many traditional chains have posted strong sales, both online and at stores, as people are in a mood to spend.

What’s driving it? A booming economy and companies’ own efforts to try to Amazon-proof their businesses. That means making their stores more pleasant, updating their websites and speeding up delivery.. . . more

Hollister disappoints as execs reiterate brick-and-mortar plan

Retail Dive
Abercrombie & Fitch Co. on Thursday reported second quarter net sales rose 8% to $842.4 million, driven by a calendar shift and positive comparable sales. That missed the average analyst forecast cited by Reuters for $845.2 million. The company's 3% rise also missed the Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S average analyst​ expectation for a 3.7% boost.

By brand, comps rose 4% and sales reached $500.8 million at Hollister, missing analyst expectations for a 5.3% increase. Comps rose 2% and sales reached $341.6 million at Abercrombie, according to a company press release. Direct-to-consumer net sales rose 16% from last year to $216.4 million and were about 26% of total net sales for the quarter, compared to about 24% last year.. . . more

Brookfield Engages in Joint Ventures, Considers Mixed-Use Alternatives in Trying to Raise the Value of GGP’s Mall Portfolio

Brookfield Property Partners’ $15 billion takeover of GGP—one of the country’s biggest mall REITs—was completed on Aug. 28. The deal hoists Brookfield to become the second-largest U.S. mall owner behind Simon Property Group.

The move to acquire GGP at a time when physical retail is plagued with retail closings and bankruptcies shows Brookfield has confidence in brick-and-mortar retail. And the company isn’t wasting any time in overhauling GGP’s 125-property mall portfolio. It’s bringing in equity partners in many of the malls it acquired with different goals depending on how well each asset is performing, reports the Wall Street Journal.. . . more

Dollar Tree Q2 falls a bit short

Chain Store Age
Dollar Tree narrowly missed earnings estimates for the second quarter as it continues to work to turnaround its Family Dollar business.

Sales rose 4.6% to $5.53 billion from $5.28 billion. Same-store sales rose 1.8%, in line with estimates. Same-store sales were flat at Family Dollar and rose 3.7% at Dollar Tree, the banner’s fifth consecutive quarter of same-store sales growth exceeding 3.5%. . . . more

Digitally native Eloquii continues offline expansion

Chain Store Age
Online plus-size fast-fashion brand Eloquii has touched down in Miami.

The retailer opened its first Southeast location, at Dadeland Mall, In Miami. The 1,900-sq.-ft. store features the brand’s ever-evolving assortment of runway-driven pieces, from dresses to separates and swim, in sizes 14 to 28. The sleek space has pops of gold throughout, giving it a luxe, indulgent feel. . . . more

Sears Stock Rallies After Amazon Deal Gives Its Stores a Surprise Boost

The summer of 2018 has been another tough period for Sears, but there’s one thing that has reliably helped lift the retailer’s share price: Amazon.

On Tuesday, Sears Holdings announced that it’s expanding a pilot program with Amazon to install and balance automobile tires that consumers buy through Amazon. Under the partnership, Amazon shoppers who buy tires, including the Die-Hard brand made by Sears, can ship the tires to a nearby Sears Auto Center for installation.. . . more