Monday, April 30, 2018

The best shopping mall in every state

From thrift shopping to high-end luxury brands, locals and tourists look for the mall that has it all. From the finest dining to movies to a variety of retail shops, they are looking for a one-stop shop.

Though malls are closing at a pretty high rate, there are still plenty of quality shopping experiences to be had in person.. . . more

McDonald's value menu boosts sales for fast-food chain as modernization continues

USA Today

The new McDonald's value menu might be having its intended effect for the fast-food chain: adding value to the bottom line.

Price increases and customers buying premium products helped boost McDonald's first-quarter sales.

The company introduced its new value menu in January with items priced at $1, $2 and $3 in hopes of getting customers to buy more profitable items. Looks like it's working.. . . more

The economy is booming, so why can’t U.S. grocers hike prices?

Seattle Times

Good luck raising prices — even if the economy is humming.

Grocery chains have long awaited the right conditions to charge more for their products, and a broad view of the U.S. would suggest this is their moment: Unemployment is near historic lows, consumer confidence is high and inflation is inching upward.

But companies are finding they’re losing the power to hike prices. That’s because and Walmart are engaged in a battle to the death on consumer spending, while low-cost chains Aldi and Lidl pressure brick-and-mortar companies.. . . more

Chico's becomes the latest retailer to sell on Amazon


Chico's FAS, the parent company of Chico's, White House Black Market and Soma, announced Monday it plans to sell Chico's merchandise on Amazon.

Chico's shares had jumped more than 4 percent in the premarket, but then retreated and were down 1 percent in the regular trading session.

The company said shoppers in mid-May will find a "select assortment" of clothing and accessories, including its athleisure line, no-iron shirts and jewelry, on Amazon. Chico's said it could begin selling items from White House Black Market and Soma via Amazon, "as the new business channel gains traction.". . . more

Retail’s Other Problem: Too Few Clerks in the Store

Wall Street Journal

Many of America’s biggest retailers, under assault from Inc., have been slashing staff even faster than they have been closing stores, a dynamic that has left fewer clerks and longer checkout lines at remaining locations.

Despite operating roughly the same number of stores as it did a decade ago, Macy’s Inc. has shed 52,000 workers since 2008. At J.C. Penney Co., workers have disappeared twice as fast as department stores. That’s led to an average of 112 total Penney employees for every store today, down from 145 a decade ago, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.. . . more

110 Grill set to open in Worcester on May 22

The Massachusetts restaurant chain 110 Grill is set to open a new location in downtown Worcester on May 22.

The rapidly-expanding company has 13 locations throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire and plans to add 10 more in the coming year. One of those locations is at 123 Front St. in Worcester, next to the new AC Marriott hotel.

The 7,000-square-foot restaurant will feature a 30-seat U-shaped bar, a lounge area with high-top tables, a dining area with views of the kitchen, a dining room, a private event area and a 50-seat outdoor patio with fire pits, couches and tiki torches.. . . more

US consumer spending rebounded 0.4 percent in March

Boston Herald

Americans boosted their spending by 0.4 percent in March, the best showing in three months. Meanwhile, a key gauge of inflation closely watched by the Federal Reserve rose at the fastest pace in more than a year.

The March increase in consumer spending followed two months of very weak readings with no gain in February and only a 0.2 percent increase in January, the Commerce Department reported Monday. The result is an encouraging sign that economic growth, which slowed in the first quarter, will accelerate in the current quarter.. . . more

Friday, April 27, 2018

Consumers are still not ‘all in’ on online grocery shopping

Chain Store Age

While more consumers are buying their groceries online, they aren’t ready to give up their store visits just yet.

About 10% of consumers across the United States are now regularly buying groceries online, however the adoption of online grocery shopping is moving at a slower pace than other consumer categories, according to new data from The NDP Group.

According to findings, the benefits of online grocery shopping, like not needing to leave home, price comparisons, speed, and not waiting in lines, are enough for a growing number of consumers to be enticed. Yet, these factors are not encouraging them to do all of their grocery shopping online.. . . more

Two-story Wegmans with a tequila bar to open in Massachusetts

Buffalo News

Wegmans will finally unveil its two-story megastore at the Natick Mall in Natick, Mass., Sunday.

The store will have three "firsts" for the Rochester-based grocer:
  • It's the first Wegmans with shopping on two levels. Many of its stores have mezzanine-level seating, but not grocery departments on a second floor.. . . more

Starbucks Q2 sales grow, but profit margin shrinks

Seattle Times

Starbucks’ profits in the quarter-ended April 1 were $660.1 million, up 4 percent from the year-earlier period.

Starbucks said it added 468 stores in the quarter, bringing the total to 28,209. It also closed 298 Teavana stores.

Comparable sales across the company’s global operations increased 2 percent in the quarter, with comparable sales in its fast-growing China business up 4 percent.. . . more

Amazon will increase the price of its annual Prime plan effective on May 11


Amazon is increasing the price of its Prime membership from $99 to $119 starting on May 11.

Image result for amazon primeThe company just announced the price increase on its first quarter earnings call, attributing the spike to the service's rising costs, and noting that this was its first price hike since March 2014.

Amazon Prime, which has more than 100 million paid members worldwide, gives members free two-day shipping on lots of products, as well as access to exclusive TV shows, movies, and music.. . . more

Internet Sales Tax: A Game Changer?

Keypoints Retail Newsletter

Have you been paying sales tax on your online purchases?

A 1992 US Supreme Court ruling says that a state can only require a retailer to collect sales taxes if the businesses has a physical presence - a store, office, distribution center - in that state. Therefore, if an online retailer is not required to add the tax, the consumer is still expected to remit the sales tax that should have paid to the resident state in the form of a use tax. Most states include a line their income tax forms where they ask you to declare any use tax you might owe on such purchases.. . . more

Thursday, April 26, 2018

How the Experience Economy is Affecting Commercial Real Estate

NREI Online

The commercial real estate market is extremely competitive and enticing major brands to select one development over another requires more than just “location, location, location.” With everything getting “smarter,” from devices to cities, the expectation for brands is that real estate property will keep pace with evolving technical standards. Up until now, branding considerations in property design have taken a backseat in terms of developers’ top priorities, but they will become increasingly important as the experience economy continues to mature.

Looking ahead, developers should think differently about their properties to improve value and increase marketability. No industry has perfectly balanced an equally scientific and thematic approach to creating immersive brand experiences like the theme park or attractions industry. While traditional commercial real estate and entertainment are vastly different, there are disciplines and approaches from the entertainment sector that traditional real estate developers should consider implementing in more subtle ways.. . . more

Sears’ Remaining Stores May Not Garner Much Demand, as Retailer Faces New Struggles

NREI Online

Major mall REITs such as GGP Inc., Macerich and Simon Property Group have arguably already captured the best of Sears Holdings’s fleet of stores, through a series of 50-50 joint venture and outright sale transactions since 2012.

Whatever is left of the Hoffman Estate, Ill.-based retailer’s stores numbers less than 200 – and the company continues to announce closings. Seritage Growth Properties, the New York City-based REIT entity created in 2015 to lease and monetize the Sears properties, holds those and market professionals are not convinced that the remaining properties hold much value for landlords. . . . more

Subway Plans to Close 500 U.S. Stores

Chain Store Age

Subway Restaurants, the world’s most ubiquitous dining chain, will continue closing U.S. stores as it expands internationally.

After peppering the nation with thousands of locations, closely held Subway is retrenching. This year, the sandwich purveyor is planning to shut about 500 more of its U.S. shops. Last year, more than 800 stores went dark, with the total U.S. count dropping to 25,908. It also closed restaurants in 2016.

“We want to be sure that we have the best location,” Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Greco, 60, said in a phone interview. “We focused in the past on restaurant count. We’re focused now on strengthening market share.”. . . more

GNC to shutter 200 stores

Retail Dive

GNC plans to close some 200 stores this year, depending on the outcome of lease renegotiations or relocation opportunities, which are ongoing, and expects few new stores to open this year, the company also said.

Same-store sales at GNC rose 0.5% in domestic company-owned stores in the first quarter of 2018, according to a company press release. In domestic franchise locations, same-store sales fell 1.9%.. . . more

How Abercrombie & Fitch plans to grow into a $5 billion company

Columbus Business First

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. hosted its annual investor meeting in New York on Wednesday and shared its aspiration to be a $5 billion business and some of the steps it will take to hit that goal.

Abercrombie's sales were $3.49 billion last year, up 4 percent from 2016, with notable improvement in both the Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch brands.. . . more

Kohl's CEO Kevin Mansell is 'much more positive' about 2018 as he prepares to step down


Kohl's outgoing CEO, Kevin Mansell, said the retailer's efforts within the past year are helping drive new shoppers to its stores, while retaining loyal customers.

"We are much more positive as we go into [2018]," Mansell told CNBC's Courtney Reagan Wednesday on "Squawk on the Street." "We think amplifying the role of the store is the right strategy for us.". . . more

Charming Charlie emerges from bankruptcy with a smaller footprint, new owners

Chain Store Age

Charming Charlie is no longer bankrupt. But it has fewer stores.

The jewelry and accessories retailer said it successfully completed its financial restructuring and emerged from Chapter 11, with its court-confirmed reorganization plan taking effect today, April 24, 2018. Charming Charlie filed for bankruptcy protection in December, after announcing plans to shutter a number of underperforming stores and reduce corporate headcount. It has since closed roughly 100 locations.. . . more

The culture is changing. Can Victoria's Secret keep up?

Fewer young women are buying from lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret, and analysts point to shifting sentiments among consumers as a possible reason.

The number of women in the 18-to-49 age group buying from the brand is at its lowest since 2013, per Retail Dive, and comparable sales declined every month in 2017, per Fashionista. Sales were down between 10 percent and 14 percent toward the beginning of the year and by single-digit numbers toward the end of the year. . . . more

MGM sets opening date for Springfield casino

Boston Business Journal

MGM Resorts International announced early Thursday that it plans to open its $960 million MGM Springfield resort on Aug. 24.

Features of the resort include a 250-room, five-story boutique hotel, an 8,000-seat MassMutual convention center, a number of food and beverage spots, a Topgolf-branded golf simulator, some 42,500 square feet of meeting and event space and the 125,000-square-foot casino with 2,550 slot machines, 120 gaming tables, a poker room and a VIP gaming area. . . . more

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Future Of America's Malls

In February, 2017, Macy’s contracted CBRE Inc. Real Estate to sell 32 locations in 20 states, many of which were in shopping malls. Toys R Us and JCPenney are among other brick and mortar retail chains struggling to survive, this all according to

In the past, malls relied on these so-called anchor stores. Now that they are closing their doors, the American shopping mall is in jeopardy.. . . more

The Most Expensive Takeover in Retail Is Drowning in Debt


PetSmart’s owners thought embracing e-commerce would keep it competitive in the age of Amazon.

Two chief executives and $3 billion later, they’re discovering it takes a lot more than web smarts to outrun an avalanche of debt.. . . more

Mother’s Day spending to reach $23.1 billion


Mother’s Day spending is expected to total a near-record $23.1 billion this year, according to the annual survey released today by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. A total 86 percent of Americans will celebrate Mother’s Day and spend an average of $180 per person.

The expected spending would be second only to last year’s $23.6 billion, the highest in the 15-year history of the survey at an average $186 per person.. . . more

French sporting goods giant unveils North American locations

Chain Store Age

Decathlon has dropped anchor in San Francisco and Canada — but don’t expect Nike or any other familiar global brands.

The value-priced French sporting goods retailer, which operates nearly 1,500 locations across some 40 countries, recently opened an 8,313-sq.-ft. “lab” store on Market Street in San Francisco. Decathlon said it chose to focus on San Francisco to allow the brand to become familiar with the practices of local sports fans before a possible expansion throughout the United States. It also is selling online — but only to residents of California.. . . more

Reality Sets In at Lampert's Sears, With Another $1 Billion Due


Few people on Wall Street believe in Eddie Lampert like Eddie Lampert.

Thirteen years after merging Sears, one of America’s most iconic retailers, with the budget Kmart chain, the hedge-fund billionaire is moving -- again -- to salvage what he can.

His latest plan, announced Monday, would have his ESL Investments Inc. buy Kenmore, Sears’s well-known appliance brand, as well as several other businesses. In other words, Lampert, also chief executive officer of Sears Holdings Corp., wants to sell what is perhaps Sears’s last jewel to his own hedge fund -- at least if other bidders don’t emerge.. . . more

Wynn CEO indicates firm could sell Everett casino to protect bottom line

Boston Business Journal

In response to an analyst question about strategy for Wynn Boston Harbor, CEO Matt Maddox echoed his previous statements regarding the future of the under-construction facility in Everett. Maddox said that, while Wynn Resorts likes the Greater Boston market, the company could be willing to sell the project should it pose a risk to the company’s bottom line.

“We’re a $30 billion company, and if there was ever any risk, due to heightened rhetoric, that there would be any contagion from Massachusetts into (the company), we will have to take a hard look at what is best to protect our shareholders and our value,” Maddox said on the company’s first-quarter earnings call Tuesday. “We love the market. We’re going to continue to actively cooperate with the regulator there and move forward. But at the same time, we will always be protecting our shareholders and our employees.” . . . more

Big Ys In Milford And Easton, Massachusetts, Are Reborn

The Shelby Report

Big Y, Milford, Easton, Mass.Big Y Foods has completed renovations to its Milford and Easton, Massachusetts, stores. Construction began in Milford in February and cost $1.9 million, while construction in Easton began last October and cost $1.6 million. The company said it spent a total of more than $5.4 million on the renovations.

Springfield, Massachusetts-based Big Y said the upgrades included major renovations in many areas of each store and new additions in response to changing customer needs.. . . more

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Is Guitar Center Hanging By A String?

The S&P recently reduced the Guitar Center's corporate credit rating further into junk status. S&P does not see the retailer — with more than 250 stores across the U.S. — improving its credit metrics given high leverage and weak cash flow, especially as more than $600M in notes mature in April of next year, according to MarketWatch.

Guitar Center remains in operation, just on a watch list with a host of other retailers in precarious positions. That means the retailer is susceptible to any shocks, including a recession or a sharper drop in guitar sales, Digital Music News reports. Lower guitar sales are also the source of guitar-maker Gibson's tribulations. Gibson is saddled with more than $500M in debt coming due this summer.. . . more

Westfield’s $300M PropTech Spinoff Wants To Give Physical Retail More Power And Data Than Amazon

There is an overlooked aspect of Unibail Rodamco’s $16B purchase of Westfield that may be the most interesting part of the deal. As part of the transaction, the PropTech division set up by Westfield in 2012 will be spun off into a separate listed company with a value of about $305 million.

Previously called Westfield Labs and now rechristened OneMarket, it will be the first publicly listed PropTech company — and its ambitions are huge. It is not just developing an individual PropTech product or series of products — it is looking to create a network of every retail scheme and physical retailer in the U.S. and Europe, connecting them and helping them share data and information.. . . more

Q1 Report: Decline in completions fuels rise in retail rents

Chain Store Age

Retail real estate completions came in just under 8 million sq. ft. in the first quarter of 2018, a 23% decline from Q1 2017. That plus a falloff in the number of store closures helped continue an ongoing trend toward an increase in net absorption and higher rents, according to CBRE Research.

Overall net absorption was positive at 14.2 million sq. ft. and up significantly from a record-low level of 811,000 sq. ft. in Q1 2017. Fewer closings had the biggest impact on this measure, which was also driven by gains in the high street, freestanding properties category (6.6 million sq. ft. absorbed) and the neighborhood, community & strip centers segment (5.6 million sq. ft. absorbed), according to CBRE analysts.. . . more

Gap ramping up Old Navy store expansion, remodels

Chain Store Age

Gap Inc. is putting its muscle behind Old Navy, counting on the value apparel brand to drive its growth.
The retailer will open 60 Old Navy stores across the nation this year, reported CNBC, giving it a total of more than 1,000. In addition, some 150 Old Navy stores will be remodeled during the next few months with such features as upgraded fitting rooms, restrooms and checkout areas and more modern fixtures, the report said. About 10% of the 150 stores will receive a full makeover, according to the report.. . . more

Toys ‘R’ Us seeks approval to sell Canadian division

Chain Store Age

It appears likely Toys “R” Us’ operations in Canada will live to see another day.

The bankrupt retailer cancelled an auction for its assets in Canada and will seek approval from the court on Tuesday to sell them to Toronto-based Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. The investment firm had submitted a $236.8 million “stalking-horse” bid (C$300) to buy Toys “R” Us’ Canadian operations, which includes 82 stores.. . . more

Get Into My Car ... Amazon begins delivery to vehicles

Boston Herald

Amazon's latest perk ... free delivery to your car.

The Seattle company on Tuesday began offering delivery in 37 cities to Amazon Prime members who own newer General Motors or Volvo vehicles.

The in-car delivery service is available to members of Amazon Prime whose cars are parked in publicly accessible areas, such as on the street in front of an apartment building, at a workplace parking lot, or in a driveway. . . . more

Monday, April 23, 2018

This brewery is slated to open next to TD Garden later this year

Night Shift Brewing is opening a 12,000-square-foot brewery and restaurant near Boston's North Station.

The Everett-based brewery said it has signed a lease at Lovejoy Wharf next to TD Garden, though it can’t yet disclose the exact location. The brewery is currently going through the licensing process, and hopes to open later this year.. . . more

Amazon Has a Top-Secret Plan to Build Home Robots


Ten years ago, Amazon introduced the Kindle and established the appeal of reading on a digital device. Four years ago, Jeff Bezos and company rolled out the Echo, prompting millions of people to start talking to a computer.

Now Inc. is working on another big bet: robots for the home.
The retail and cloud computing giant has embarked on an ambitious, top-secret plan to build a domestic robot, according to people familiar with the plans. . . . more

Main Insights from ULI’s Semi-Annual CRE Forecast

NREI Online

Real estate economists and analysts see strength in the U.S. economy over the next few years, which should translate into strong—albeit moderating—results for the commercial property sector.

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) presented the findings of its semi-annual economic forecast on Wednesday. The forecast was based on a survey of industry professionals, who were questioned on 27 economic and real estate indicators and represented 36 firms. It took place in March.. . . more

Experts Talk RECon; Retailer Expansion Plans And New Store Openings Abound

Globe St

There is a great deal of new and existing retailers executing aggressive “new store openings” nationwide. That is according to Brandon Duff, regional director at Stan Johnson Co., one of the many we spoke with recently about the upcoming ICSC RECon event, held in Las Vegas.

Duff says that in recent years, most investors assumed a continued low interest rate environment for the foreseeable future. “But now that rates are seemingly on the rise, I anticipate more discussions centered around the capital markets environment and how it might impact investment strategies going forward.”

Naveen Jaggi, president of retail at JLL, tells that there is still likely to be a high level of overall activity, but it is vastly different than 12 months ago the last time the industry convened in Las Vegas. “I think we will see a lot of re-tenanting or re-working of existing pads as the recent rash of bankruptcies will likely cast somewhat of a pall on the conference this year.”. . . more

Marijuana goes upscale in Big Apple with high-design store


A rising marijuana retailer has opened a stylish-looking store in a pricey real estate district.

MedMen has made its Manhattan debut, opening a medical marijuana dispensary on Fifth Avenue, across the street from Lord & Taylor. The 2,000-sq.-ft. shop has a sleek, upscale design with an overall aesthetic that recalls an Apple Store, reported CNBC, complete with red-clad “geniuses” and iPads.. . . more

Toy mogul plans new deal to save U.S. Toys 'R' Us

The CEO of Bratz doll manufacturer MGA Entertainment Inc. says he will formulate a new deal to buy more than 200 U.S. stores from bankrupt retailer Toys 'R' Us after a Toronto company reached a tentative agreemet to buy the retailer’s Canadian stores for $237 million.

Los Angeles toy mogul Isaac Larian and an investor group submitted a $675-million bid for 274 Toys 'R' Us locations in the United States and $215 million for stores in Canada, but the bid was rejected as inadequate, per The Los Angeles Times.. . . more

Eddie Lampert's firm offers to buy Kenmore from Sears

Boston Herald

Lampert's hedge fund, Sears' biggest shareholder, has asked the struggling retailer to sell the Kenmore brand and the chain's home improvement business.

The private equity firm ESL Investments said that it might buy the assets if the company is willing to sell, sending shares of Sears Holding Corp. jumping 8 percent at the opening bell.. . . more

From new tenant mixes to new store concepts, NH retailers getting creative

Union Leader

"Retail has to get creative," said Nancy Kyle, president and CEO of the New Hampshire Retail Association, which represents retailers big and small. "Anything to get people in the door."

Bob Sheehan, whose Massachusetts firm, KeyPoint Partners, does an annual report on the retail health of southern New Hampshire, said the off-price retail segment has been a successful format as shoppers look for bargains for name brands.. . . more

Friday, April 20, 2018

Pier 1 prepares for ‘urgent change’ after dismal Q4

Chain Store Age

On the heels of a disappointing fourth quarter, Pier 1 Imports unveiled a three-year plan to improve its business in the long-term. It also said it is ceasing its dividend payments.

The plan, called “Pier 1 2021: A New Day,” features a number of initiatives and organizational changes to drive growth, including targeting niche groups of consumers, refining the merchandise mix, and new marketing strategies. Pier I said it will reimagine the shopping experience, leveraging and strengthening its omnichannel platform.. . . more

Bon-Ton Stores begin going-out-of-business sales

Chain Store Age

The Bon-Ton Stores will be dark by fall.

The embattled department store retailer announced that going-out-of- business sales will begin Friday, April 20, in its 212 stores and e-commerce websites. The liquidation sales are expected to run for approximately 10 to 12 weeks.

Bon-Ton currently has 250 locations, 38 of which are already in liquidation from a previously announced store closure process.. . . more

The top apparel retailer for 2018 will be…

Chain Store Age

Amazon is on pace to make a big name for itself across the apparel industry this year.

According to Morgan Stanley, the online giant is poised to become the number one player in the U.S. apparel industry in 2018, reported CNBC. . . . more

Group predicts boom times for local toy stores

Chain Store Age

The departure of Toys “R” Us from the retail landscape will give a boost to neighborhood toy shops.

That’s according to the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association, which predicted that 2018 will be the best year yet for neighborhood toy stores nationwide as consumers flock to these stores in the wake of the closure of Toys “R” Us.. . . more

What Shopping in the Future Will Look Like

Wall Street Journal

The online world is interacting with brick-and-mortar stores in radically new ways, fueling a revolution in how people shop, said Connie Chan, a partner at the Silicon Valley venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Ms. Chan said retailers are scooping up more data about shoppers and their habits than ever before, in both online and real-world settings, helping them fine-tune the ways they match buyers with products.

“The offline world is being optimized by the online world,” Ms. Chan said at The Wall Street Journal’s D.Live conference in Hong Kong on Friday.. . . more

Victoria’s Secret has a brand image problem

New York Post

Victoria’s Secret has a #MeToo problem.

The lingerie giant’s sales have been sinking for more than a year as its pricey push-up bras and other fashions fall out of favor — but the #MeToo movement is also taking a toll on its brand, according to a YouGov poll.

Among 18-to-49-year-old women, the brand’s buzz score — whether consumers are hearing positive or negative things about a brand — dropped more than 3 points over the past six months, to 23.
In 2016, the company’s buzz score was 31. By comparison, Amazon was the No. 1 brand in 2016, with a buzz score of 36.. . . more

As Bon-Ton’s Fortunes Shift, Investors Brace for Liquidation

NREI Online

About one week ago Bon-Ton Stores appeared to have escaped the spiral of bankruptcy and liquidation that haunts so many retailers these days, after it got an offer from a group of investors including REIT Washington Prime Group, fund manager DW Partners and Namdar Realty to buy the company.

By Monday evening, however, the Milwaukee-based department store operator’s fortune shifted dramatically after reports emerged that only a couple of bidders turned up at its liquidation auction, according to industry observers. Instead of a buyout, the discussion has now turned to liquidating Bon-Ton Stores for good.. . . more

Thursday, April 19, 2018

CARSTAR Opens More than 30 New Stores in First Quarter

CARSTAR is continuing to expand its footprint in the United States and Canada with more than 30 new store openings so far in 2018.

CARSTAR facilities feature state-of-the-art repair equipment, expert painting, towing assistance, vehicle pickup and delivery, and a nationwide warranty, according to the company. . . . more

This is the one retail category that doesn’t have too many stores

The number of home improvement retail locations actually fell 1.1% year-over-year, according to UBS analysts, serving as one of the few examples of retailers who have a good handle on supply and demand when it comes to their fleet of stores.

Home Depot Inc. and Lowe’s Cos. Inc. account for about 45% of the subsector’s sales, with both expected to continue to show strength in the topline.

Analysts say that auto parts retailers like Advance Auto Parts Inc. and AutoZone Inc. are close to “saturation.”. . . more

Bon-Ton Stores headed for liquidation

Chain Store Age

The end is in sight for The Bon-Ton Stores.

The bankrupt, 160-year-old department store chain is headed to liquidation after it received a winning bid from a joint venture, including Great American Group and Tiger Capital Group, to acquire its inventory and certain other assets. The winning bid by the liquidators was estimated to be worth $775.5 million, according to Reuters. It is subject to approval by U.S. Bankruptcy Court.. . . more

Toys ‘R’ Us rejects bid from toy mogul

Chain Store Age

A last-minute bid by a billionaire toy tycoon to keep some Toys “R” Us stores up and running has fallen flat.

The retailer rejected an offer from Isaac Larian, founder and CEO of toy maker MGA Entertainment Inc., to buy 274 U.S. Toys “R” Us stores, reported CNN Money. The $675 million bid reportedly was too low.

The funds to purchase the stores would have come from Larian’s own coffers, additional investors and bank financing, the privately held MGA stated.. . . more

Physical Retail Isn’t Dead: It’s Working With Tech to Be More Human-Focused

The retail industry conflict is too often framed as physical retail versus online retail. Statistical analyses of the growth of ecommerce almost always get coupled with a story surrounding the decline of physical retail, with a heavy focus on the closure of malls. These two things are undoubtedly linked, but experts often communicate this as a zero-sum game. This ignores a fundamental human truth: People now and into the future will continue to leave the house and shop in physical retail. In fact, over 75–80 percent of purchases made today are still through physical retail channels.

Then why are people panicking?. . . more

Amazon reveals it has more than 100 million Prime members

Image result for amazon prime membershipAmazon has more than 100 million Amazon Prime subscribers around the world, Jeff Bezos revealed in a letter to shareholders on Wednesday.

Bezos has always been a little cagey about sharing Amazon statistics. This is the first time he's publicly stated how many Prime members the company has signed up. Previous estimates by outside analysts pegged the number at 90 million in 2017. . . . more

The amount of retail space closing in 2018 is on pace to break a record


The amount of retail space going dark in 2018 is on pace to break a record, as companies with massive floorplans are either trimming back their store counts or liquidating entirely.

Since 2008, commercial real estate services firm CoStar Group has been tracking the amount of retail square footage slated to close annually. Already in April, more than 90 million square feet of space is expected to be vacated, including Bon-Ton's stores, in 2018. That's easily on track to surpass a record 105 million square feet of space shuttered last year, said Suzanne Mulvee, a senior real estate strategist at CoStar. All it will take is another handful of closures.. . . more

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Wayfair creates its own shopping holiday

Chain Store Age

Wayfair is hosting an event that promises to offer prices and shipping perks that rival those offered on Black Friday.

The online furniture retailer will launch Way Day on Wednesday, April 25. The shopping event, which kicks off at midnight, will offer Black Friday-level prices for 24 hours on 70,000 products across the home furnishings, décor and home improvement categories.. . . more

Retail Rivals Amazon and Best Buy Team Up to Sell Smart TVs

Wall Street Journal

Rivals Inc. and Best Buy Co. are joining forces to sell television sets powered by Amazon’s Fire TV operating system.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly revealed the partnership on Tuesday at a Best Buy store in Bellevue, Wash. The companies will sell 11 models, starting this summer with TVs by Toshiba and Best Buy house brand Insignia. Best Buy will feature the Amazon-powered TVs in its stores and on its website, and also become a merchant on Amazon’s website, where it will sell these TV sets exclusively.. . . more

Hockey retailer expands footprint

Chain Store Age

Pure Hockey, the largest hockey retailer in the U.S., is getting a bit bigger.

The company announced that it has acquired both of Bauer Hockey’s “Own The Moment” stores. With the acquisition, Pure Hockey will operate 53 retail locations under the Pure Hockey and HockeyGiant brands in 18 states, as well as three e-commerce sites focused on hockey and goalie equipment.. . . more

Look for the Whole Foods rewards program to be folded into Amazon Prime


Whole Foods Market has sent an email to members of its loyalty program announcing that it will discontinue its rewards program and digital coupons starting May 2, indicating that it will soon be folded into the Amazon Prime program.

Jefferies analysts warned that any changes will be a hurdle for competing grocers.

“Having already observed reasonable success with recent actions, not to mention robust media coverage, investors should be mindful that pending announced of a Prime-based program would carry obvious headline risk for grocers and serve as a reminder of how competitive the market has become,” analysts led by Christopher Mandeville wrote in a note.. . . more

Supreme Court worries about abandoning online sales tax rule

Sun Times

The Supreme Court sounded concerned Tuesday about doing away with a rule that has meant shoppers don’t always get charged sales tax when they hit “checkout” online.

The justices were hearing arguments in a case that deals with how businesses collect sales tax on online purchases at sites from to Zappos. Right now, under a decades-old Supreme Court rule, if a business is shipping a product to a state where it doesn’t have an office, warehouse or other physical presence, it doesn’t have to collect the state’s sales tax. Customers are generally supposed to pay the tax to the state themselves if they don’t get charged it, but the vast majority don’t.. . . more

Target launching in-store same-day delivery in Boston, four other cities this month

Boston Business Journal

Target Corp. will start providing same-day delivery service from 60 stores in a handful of major cities this month.

The service, which will launch in D.C., Boston, Chicago, New York and San Francisco, offers in-store customers the option as they check out to have their purchase delivered to their home. The shopper picks a two-hour window for delivery that day.. . . more

Bankrupt Bertucci’s closes six Massachusetts restaurants

Boston Business Journal

Northborough-based Bertucci’s has closed six of its 35 Massachusetts locations, as it seeks to emerge from bankruptcy with a new owner and on firmer financial footing.

The Italian restaurant chain on Monday shut down three restaurants in eastern Massachusetts, in Wayland, Randolph and Taunton. It also closed three restaurants in the western part of the state, in Amherst, West Springfield and Longmeadow.

Across its East Coast footprint, Bertucci’s shut down 15 restaurants, leaving it with 59.. . . more

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Private Equity Sees Profit Potential in U.S. Malls

To say that the American mall is dead is a gross exaggeration. While many shopping centers across the country are struggling, so-called Class A mall real estate, typically in densely populated major metropolitan areas with attractive demographics and innovative concepts, is doing well and piquing investor interest.

While the shopping center of the past was largely dependent on large, well-known retail anchor stores, today’s mall developers are retrofitting space to become lifestyle hubs, relying on a mix of fine dining, entertainment, hotels, offices, health care providers and retail, among other concepts, to help generate traffic.. . . more

The Retail Real Estate Glut Is Getting Worse


The ultimate fate of Toys “R” Us locations will be sorted out as the company sells off its various parts; Isaac Larian, the founder of a toy company, announced on April 13 a last-minute bid to save part of the chain. But the stores wouldn’t be the only vacancies hitting the retail market.

While it’s not going out of business like the toy seller, J.Crew Group Inc., which leases its locations, says it’s closing a net of nine stores this fiscal year, after shuttering a net 41 in 2017. Walmart Inc.’s Sam’s Club in January said it will close 63 locations, about 10 percent of its total. At last count, U.S. store closures announced this year reached a staggering 77 million square feet, according to data on national and regional chains compiled by CoStar Group Inc. That means retailers are well on their way to surpassing the record 105 million square feet announced for closure in all of 2017.. . . more

Glenn Rufrano Talks About Why VEREIT Is Cutting Back on Office and Buying Up Retail Assets

NREI Online

Glenn Rufrano, CEO of VERIET, recently commented on the company's portfolio mix.

With restaurants, we’re at about 20 percent of our income and we like where we are. We’re not increasing our restaurant portfolio. Our office portfolio was 25 percent of our income in 2015. We wanted it to be 20 percent or less. Because office exceeded our defined diversification metrics, we’ve been reducing office. In the last quarter, we were down to 19.6 percent; we finally broke 20 percent for the first time. We’ll continue to cull office a bit. Because we’re not buying office and restaurant, that leaves retail and industrial as the two primary forms of acquisition that we will be looking for in 2018.. . . more

The end of Bon-Ton? Only two bids for parent of Boston Store, Younkers come from liquidators

Journal Sentinal

The only two bids at the start of a bankruptcy auction for department store chain Bon-Ton Stores Inc. were from liquidators, signaling the end for a company that at one time was part of the backbone of Wisconsin’s retail industry, according to reports Tuesday morning.

Reuters, citing two sources familiar with the matter, said Bon-Ton will go out of business without a bid from a going-concern bidder. The New York research firm Reorg Research, also citing sources, likewise reported that two liquidators were the bidders when the auction finally began late Monday night.. . . more

Consumers Shy From Spending, Despite Tax Cuts

NREI Online

Consumers aren’t running out to the mall in droves with their tax-refund dollars. In fact, it doesn’t seem that tax reform will put much money in apparel retailers cash registers at all -- at least not from shoppers.

It was food and entertainment/technology which were the most likely categories to benefit from a pay check boost, according to the latest BDO Consumer Beat Survey, Natalie Kotlyar, national leader of BDO’s Retail & Consumer Products practice, said in a phone interview.. . . more

Retail vacancy rates hold steady

Despite major store closings, the retail vacancy rate in the United States held steady at 10 percent in the first quarter of 2018 in 2017 though it's expected to rise to almost 12 percent by the third quarter of 2019, according to Statista.

Although retail occupancy rates have remained steady for several months, analyst Barbara Byrne Denham, a senior economist at real estate research firm Reis, sees rough times ahead, she told National Real Estate Investor.. . . more

Growing California furniture company opens first New England store

Boston Business Journal

Nadeau Furniture with a Soul, a solid wood furniture retailer based in Los Angeles, has opened its first area location at 750 Memorial Drive in Cambridge.

Nadeau has 40 locations across the U.S., but the Cambridge store marks the brand’s entrance into New England. The store spans 4,675 square feet. . . . more

Bertucci’s files for bankruptcy, to close 15 restaurants immediately

Boston Business Journal

The Northborough-based Italian restaurant chain Bertucci’s filed for bankruptcy on Sunday, revealing plans to continue operating under a new owner and to close 15 locations immediately.

An affiliate of Chicago-based Right Lane Capital has agreed to acquire Bertucci’s, though other potential buyers can submit bids in the coming weeks. Bertucci’s is now owned by an affiliate of Levine Leichtman Capital Partners, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm. . . . more

Monday, April 16, 2018

No more wedding parties at Banana Republic

Chain Store Age

Gap Inc. is throwing in the towel when it comes to bridal wear.

Gap’s Weddington Way brand, which operates an e-commerce site and in-store shops at Banana Republic, said the shops will close down within the next few months. In a note on its website, the brand said it “hopes” to continue to serve customers online indefinitely. But “at this point,” is only guaranteeing online orders through June 11.. . . more

Bertucci's Files for Chapter 11 Restructuring for Future Growth

Bertucci's, the casual restaurant known for its authentic Italian foods and signature brick oven pizzas, today announced that it filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware (the "Bankruptcy Court") with Right Lane Dough Acquisitions, LLC serving as the Stalking Horse Bidder.  Under the asset purchase agreement, the Stalking Horse Bidder has agreed to purchase substantially all of Bertucci's assets and assume certain liabilities, subject to higher or otherwise better offers.

The transaction is intended to maximize value for all stakeholders through a fair, open Bankruptcy Court-approved sale process in which Bertucci's will consider all bids for a sale or restructuring of the company.. . . more

Toy tycoon submits bid to save Toys ‘R’ Us

Chain Store Age

It’s still a longshot, but some Toys “R” Us stores may live to see another day.

Isaac Larian, the billionaire founder and CEO of MGA Entertainment, whose products include Bratz dolls, Little Tikes and LOL Surprise, put in a formal bid of $675 million to buy 274 U.S. Toys “R” Us’ stores. He also put another $215 million to buy Toys “R” Us’ 82 stores in Canada. The bid comes as the chain is in the process of liquidating its U.S. operations.. . . more

Why We Should Be Optimistic About Retail

New York Times

Considering the likely liquidation of Toys “R” Us, the bankruptcy filings of Claire’s Stores and Nine West, you’d be forgiven for thinking that retail is dying. One major news outlet even forecast “The Death of Clothing.”

As consultants who have lived and breathed retail for more than 25 years, we’re pained by such headlines, but we remain believers in the industry. Traditional retailers have already made meaningful progress addressing one of their three biggest problems — too many stores — and have begun to address the other two: the high level of debt on their balance sheets and the rise of digital retailing. We’re also optimistic about the industry’s prospects because of its long history of successful reinvention.. . . more

The 21st-Century Suit Salesman: Charm, Confidence and a Smartphone

Wall Street Journal

Only one shopper had walked into the spacious Men’s Wearhouse store here in the first hour after it opened on a recent Wednesday. But Will Muñoz, the store’s manager, chatted with 13 customers.

That is because the struggling apparel chain is starting to deploy its army of salespeople on shoppers browsing its website. Using their smartphones, the store workers can message, video chat and send photos of shirts or ties—and then get paid commissions for online orders the same way they do for ringing up items at the cash register.. . . more

U.S. retail sales pop up 0.6% in March after three straight declines


Sales at U.S. retailers rose 0.6% in March to end a streak of three straight declines, the Commerce Department reported Monday, underscoring the improved financial picture of American households and the resiliency of an economic expansion that could turn out to be the longest ever.

Sales rose a smaller 0.3% last month if autos and gas are stripped out, the Commerce Department said Monday.. . . more

States Want to Force Online Retailers to Collect Billions in Sales Tax

Bloomberg has a small but unmistakable advantage for anyone looking to buy a 3-cup Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus Food Processor for shipment to Germantown, Maryland: Purchasers don’t have to pay the 6 percent sales tax they’d owe at a local store.

That sort of discrepancy is at the heart of a multibillion-dollar U.S. Supreme Court case set for argument Tuesday. States and traditional retailers are asking the court to overturn a 26-year-old ruling that exempts many internet merchants from collecting billions of dollars in sales taxes. The 1992 decision says retailers can be forced to collect the tax only if they have a physical presence in a state, such as a store or warehouse.. . . more

Friday, April 13, 2018

Starbucks downgraded on concerns about craft coffee competition, customer loyalty


Craft coffee competition and questionable customer loyalty are likely to hamper Starbucks sales over the next two years, according to one Wall Street analyst.

"We find competitive growth critical to monitor, as we believe this is largely responsible for Starbucks' deteriorating beverage same-store sales," wrote Cowen analyst Andrew Charles, who downgraded the coffee company to market perform from outperform on Friday.. . . more

Backstage shops star inside Macy’s

Retail Wire

Retail Wire

Doubters have questioned the strategic branding value of Macy’s placing its Backstage off-price shops in its full-price department stores. Even so, the chain is pushing on with the concept, planning to add 100 more Backstage shops inside of Macy’s to the 55 it already has in operation.

Backstage, which initially began as a standalone concept, was intended as Macy’s off-price response to a wide variety of discounters, including Marshall’s, Nordstrom Rack, Ross Stores and T.J. Maxx.

While some see a branding conflict between Backstage and Macy’s full-line stores, the retailer is adding the shops for a simple reason — they drive sales.. . . more

L Brands posts 7 percent increase in March sales

 The Columbus Dispatch

L Brands said on Thursday that an early Easter helped boost sales for the five-week period that ended April 7.

Sales rose 7 percent to $1 billion compared with the same period in 2017.

Comparable-store sales, the best indicator of a retailer’s performance, rose by 4 percent during the period.. . . more

Nostalgia hasn't translated into dollars as Toys R Us rescue effort raises only $59,000

USA Today

Nostalgia hasn't translated into dollars in a long-shot effort to crowdfund a future for Toys R Us. Neither did efforts to recruit other toy makers.

A campaign led by a billionaire toy executive who pledged $200 million with other investors in hopes of saving part of the bankrupt chain has foundered, with only $59,000 more raised in three weeks. Isaac Larian said Thursday he's disappointed but still plans to formally submit a bid this week for more than 300 stores in the U.S. and Canada.. . . more

Rite Aid Shareholders Sour on Albertsons Deal

Wall Street Journal

Some Rite Aid Corp. shareholders plan to oppose a merger with grocer Albertsons Cos. that they believe undervalues the struggling pharmacy chain.

Rite Aid’s shares have fallen about 20% since the companies said they would merge on Feb. 20, a sign of deepening investor disapproval. Albertsons is closely held. Rite Aid said Thursday that same-store sales fell 1.7% in its fourth quarter, the sixth straight period of declines for the key metric.

Rite Aid investors who oppose the approximately $24 billion deal say they aren’t getting a big enough share of the company that would be formed by the combination. These investors say Rite Aid would be better off overhauling its pharmacies on its own.. . . more

2012-Vintage CMBS Mall Loans Holding Up with Few Defaults

NREI Online
Amid the steady stream of bad news about the retail real estate sector, CMBS analysts have found a glimmer of hope: mall loans originated in 2012 and underpinning $4.05 billion of CMBS deals are performing better than previous vintages and have better prospects for refinancing.

Low interest rates, healthy debt service coverage ratios and a robust economy have enabled more than 75 percent of these mortgages to post stable or improving cash flows since they were underwritten, according to an assessment from Morningstar Credit Ratings.. . . more

Wynn Resorts reportedly exploring sale of Everett resort to MGM

Boston Business Journal
Wynn Resorts Ltd. has engaged in early discussions to sell the $2.4 billion Wynn Boston Harbor casino in Everett to MGM Resorts International, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday afternoon.

That report follows a Bloomberg story, published late Friday, that said Wynn Resorts Ltd.'s newly installed CEO Matt Maddox had engaged in “informal talks” about selling the Everett resort. . . . more

Thursday, April 12, 2018

In Spite of Waves of Store Closures, Retail Vacancy Hasn’t Spiked in the First Quarter

NREI Online
Retail vacancy levels stayed relatively flat for the first quarter of the year, according to preliminary data from real estate research firm Reis. Industry experts say that despite accounts of retail bankruptcies and store closures, the sector is poised to stay the course.

For neighborhood and community shopping centers, the vacancy rate averaged 10.0 percent, the same as the quarter before. Meanwhile, the vacancy rate for regional malls rose 10 basis points from the fourth quarter to 8.4 percent.. . . more

Gap CEO: Big data gives us competitive advantages

Chain Store Age

Gap Inc. is not underestimating the value of its big data.

The company’s same-store sales are on rise, which the company partially credits to the customer data it collects to create personalized marketing campaigns, according to CNBC.. . . more