Friday, June 29, 2018

What Kohl’s Early Call for Holiday Workers Says About the State of Retail Jobs

Kohl’s is getting an exceptionally early start to the holiday season this year.

On Wednesday, the retailer put out a call for seasonal workers, a full two months before most of its competitors typically start their annual hiring sprees in earnest. The chain said it plans to beef up its workforce at more than 300 of its 1,100 total stores nationwide. Hiring will continue later this summer through the fall at additional stores, along with distribution and e-commerce fulfillment centers and credit operations.. . . more

Faster delivery of nearly everything is the next big thing

Las Vegas Sun
As shoppers increasingly demand that everything from hot meals and groceries to dresses, bedding and electronics be dropped off at their doorsteps, retailers are betting big on delivery services that will get them there faster.

In the latest development, Amazon, which played a crucial role in raising shoppers' expectations for near-instant gratification in recent years, announced plans Thursday to assemble its own fleet of delivery vans that would be operated by independent contractors. . . . more

Kroger to test unconventional delivery service

Chain Store Age
A supermarket giant is embarking on a new path when it comes to grocery delivery — and its driverless.

Through a partnership with Nuro, the maker of a fully unmanned vehicle, The Kroger Co. will deliver online grocery orders using a fleet of self-driving vehicles. The test, which will be based on Nuro’s hardware and software, is expected to launch in the fall, according to the grocer. . . . more

Inside Target’s top secret test store

When she was a little girl, Erika De Salvatore fantasized about being locked in a mall when everyone else had gone home. She’d seen the 1980s rom-com Mannequin, and, after that, she imagined having free reign over the commercial space, exploring storefronts full of products after the lights went dim.

As we stroll around a huge, mostly empty retail space, she laughs about how she’s now living that fantasy. De Salvatore is the VP of visual merchandising at Target. And this is her domain: A 100,000-square-foot test store that takes up a full city block in downtown Minneapolis. You could wander here for hours and never see another soul.. . . more

Pier 1 teeing up brand relaunch for this fall

Home Textiles Today
Pier 1 stores are about to get an overhaul – with different merchandise and a new pricing grid.

New product will begin hitting stores in August, and by the fall relaunch the floor will have a materially different look and feel, president and CEO Alasdair James told investors during yesterday evening’s Q1 call. . . . more

BJ’s muscles in against warehouse giants on Wall Street

Boston Herald
Westboro-based BJ’s got a warm welcome from Wall Street even as it continues to be a laggard in the highly competitive warehouse club market.

Shares of BJ’s Wholesale Club Holdings Inc. rallied more than 29 percent to close yesterday at $22 as it returned to the public markets after seven years. . . . more

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Former Toys R Us CEO considering a revival of the bankrupt retailer

Jerry Storch, a former CEO of bankrupt Toys R Us, is reportedly considering reviving the toy retailer and has been working with investors and bankers to stitch his plan together.

Bloomberg reported Monday afternoon that Storch has been working with Credit Suisse Group as a financial advisor, based on the news outlet's conversations with people familiar with the situation. Talks have also included Fairfax Financial Holdings, the investment firm that acquired the Canadian unit of Toys R Us, those sources told Bloomberg.. . . more

Retail marijuana not happening July 1
There will be no legal recreational marijuana sales in Massachusetts on July 1. And though regulators expect to approve business licenses next week, there can be no legal retail sales until an independent testing laboratory applies and is licensed by the Cannabis Control Commission.

The CCC on Tuesday formally asked its staff to prioritize the review of license applications for independent testing laboratories, a critical link of the supply chain without which no retail shops can open since state law requires all marijuana sold to be tested and approved by a lab.. . . more

Fast-casual juice-bar chain continues aggressive expansion

Chain Store Age
Smoothie King, which operates nearly 1,000 locations worldwide, has inked a deal with a franchise partner that will bring the brand into new markets. John Clancy and his team at Smoothie King Midwest signed an agreement to develop 60 locations Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and central Florida, starting in Indianapolis and Palm Beach County, Florida.

Clancy, a longtime Planet Fitness franchisee with a strong background in real estate and finance, has an aggressive growth plan for the brand. He and a partner opened three Smoothie King locations in Connecticut, New York and Florida in the past year under a separate development agreement.. . . more

KKR on Role in Toys `R' Us Demise

KKR & Co.’s leveraged buyout of Toys ‘R’ Us is coming under scrutiny by state pension funds that are questioning the private equity firm’s role in the bankruptcy of the world’s largest toy retailer.

The Minnesota State Board of Investment decided last week to temporarily halt future commitments to KKR as it reviews the investment, while the Washington State Investment Board spent more than an hour Thursday discussing the holding and asking the private-equity firm to account for its actions. . . . more

Home Depot joins Walmart, others in installing lockers in stores for online orders

USA Today
Instead of navigating the aisles of a cavernous big-box store, many Home Depot customers will soon be able to go right to a little box, grab what they ordered and head out the door.

In the rush to compete in the new era of online shopping, Home Depot is joining other chains in modifying its stores to make them more convenient for those who buy on the website.. . . more

Five Below Adding 125 Stores as Growth Continues

Chain Store Guide
Five Below continues to expand. The company closed 2017 with 625 stores, having grown by 103 net units, or 19.7% on the year. For 2018, the plan is 125 stores.

The states with largest number of new stores on tap include California, Florida and Texas. In California, where Five Below opened its first store in spring 2017, the chain will nearly double its store count from 15 to 28 stores. On this year’s list of firsts is Arkansas, where the company will open at least 5 stores. Real estate requirements for all of these news stores are 8,000 to 10,000 square feet with a minimum frontage of 55 feet. . . . more

North End business owners fight planned Starbucks

Boston Herald
Family business owners in the North End are rallying against a proposed Starbucks on historic Hanover Street, decrying the business as a corporate stain on one of the country’s remaining Little Italy districts.

Connecticut-based Charter Realty plans to demolish a strip of businesses at the entrance to Hanover Street and build a Starbucks on the corner with an outdoor “piazza,” leaving business neighbors aghast.. . . more

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Special Section Preview: Eastern Massachusetts Malls

KeyPoint Partners

The 2018 KeyPoint Report on the retail real estate market in Eastern Massachusetts/Greater Boston is in production, and will be released very soon. This year’s report includes a special section on the status of traditional enclosed malls in the region. Have malls fared as badly as the business media would have us believe? It appears that, at least in this region, they’re actually holding their own. Here’s a brief excerpt from our special section:

The volume of noise that’s been heard in the media regarding a retail apocalypse is directed at enclosed regional shopping centers as much as any other segment of retail. For malls in Eastern Massachusetts, however, conditions are not so dire. . . more

Monday, June 25, 2018

Party City to open Toy City stores in wake of Toys R Us demise

Party City said Monday it will open about 50 Toy City pop-up stores this year as Toys R Us finishes closing its last stores this week following its September bankruptcy.

Party City said it will roll out the temporary locations alongside its Halloween City pop-up shops in "optimal" markets where it found "attractive leasing opportunities." Many retailers have been able to negotiate favorable rents and lease terms because of a glut of vacant stores.. . . more

What You Need To Know About Recreational Marijuana In Mass.

The marijuana industry in Massachusetts will hit a major milestone Sunday, as recreational sales of cannabis become legal.

But while you might be legally able to buy recreational marijuana at a pot shop, so far there aren't any licensed shops to sell it to you. That’s expected to change in the next few weeks and months.. . . more

Barnes & Noble widens loss in Q4; to open smaller format

Chain Store Age
The nation’s largest bookseller reported a wider loss in its fourth quarter over last year amid disappointing sales and charges related to turnaround initiatives.

Sales fell 3.4% to $786.1 million, which is better than analysts had expected. Same-store sales decreased 4.1%.. . . more

One last toy run! All Toys R Us stores will close on or before Friday

USA Today
Toys R Us shoppers have been taking their last selfies with Geoffrey and making their final purchases.

All Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores will close on or before Friday, the iconic toy retailer announced.

Many stores nationwide won't make it until Friday with some closing Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. . . . more

Amazon expands Prime member savings to all Whole Foods locations across U.S.

Geek Wire
Amazon’s new Prime discount program will be available at all Whole Foods locations across the U.S. this week.

Prime members who pay $119 per year can receive 10 percent discounts on sale items and other special deals. Amazon first announced the deal six weeks ago at stores in Florida and gradually expanded it to more states over the past month. Starting Wednesday, more than 400 stores will offer the deals.. . . more

Small online businesses brace for tax ruling impact

Boston Business Journal
Small- and medium-sized online retailers with limited accounting capacity could face the biggest challenge meeting new state tax collection mandates as they struggle to comply with requirements in multiple jurisdictions.

In a ruling Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court found that states can make retailers collect sales taxes on online sales even if they don't have a physical presence in the state, but did not specify what the collection threshold will be.. . . more

Out-of-stocks could be costing retailers $1T

Retail Dive
Customers are already turning online, in many cases to Amazon, to find things they can't or won't look for in stores. And the problem is being exacerbated by retailers themselves as they boost omnichannel services like click-and-collect, which deplete shelves further and take up staff time.

Customers report many reasons to go to a store rather than online to meet their needs: They want or need something immediately, want to see or try something in person, want to avoid delivery charges or support their local stores, or they just find it easier to shop in person. . . . more

Friday, June 22, 2018

‘Retail Apocalypse’ Didn’t Scare This Landlord Off an IPO

U.S. landlord Essential Properties Realty Trust Inc. just went public as shares of other retail real estate owners struggle. What’s its angle?

Don’t just sell stuff.

“We focus on a very specific set of properties that have this service component, so it’s not just a generic box selling retail goods,” Chief Executive Officer Pete Mavoides said in an interview. “We own fitness centers, dental clinics, restaurants -- granular tenants that provide a service.”. . . more

Dollar General jumps into self-checkout game

Chain Store Age
Dollar General is letting some shoppers use their smartphones to pay for their order and skip the checkout line.

The discounter launched its DG Go! app, which allows customers to use their phones to scan items as they shop, and checkout directly through the app. The app, which was released in May, is available in Apple’s App store and on Google Play. . . . more

Winners, losers in Supreme Court ruling

Chain Store Age
The Supreme Court handed a victory to the nation’s brick-and-mortar retailers on Thursday, overturning ruling that e-commerce marketers only had to collect sales tax in states where they had some sort of physical presence.

Physical retailers are clearly the big winners in the Supreme Court’s decision. (It’s estimated that not collecting sales tax gives online retailers anywhere from a 5% to 9.98% advantage, depending on the state, over traditional retailers in product pricing.). . . more

Amazon Prime Day 2018 date leaked - 36 hours of deals start midday on July 16th

Amazon Prime Day 2018 will take place on Tuesday July 17th with deals starting at midday the day before - Monday 16th. That’s all according to a Prime Day 2018 banner published on the Amazon UK website - presumably in error - and discovered by TechRadar this morning.

The 36 hour period for Prime Day 2018 makes it the longest Prime ‘day’ ever - providing final and clinching proof that Amazon cares not for the mental health or sleep patterns of TechRadar's hard working deals team. It eclipses last year’s 30-hour period which started the evening before at 9pm and also breaks with Amazon’s recent tradition of running Prime Day on the second Tuesday in July.. . . more

J.Crew, mired in debt, is trying to turn around its business

The Washington Post
J.Crew sales have been tumbling for more than three years, amid changing consumer habits and increased competition. It is in the process of closing 70 stores, after which about 250 will remain. Add to that nearly $2 billion in debt, much of it from a 2011 leveraged buyout, and analysts say the company’s problems cast a shadow on recent turnaround efforts.

“There are so many issues here, but the biggest one is a crippling debt load — we’re talking $30 million a quarter just in interest payments,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail. “It’s an eye-watering number and it makes a turnaround just about impossible.” . . . more

Target, Best Buy laud Supreme Court decision allowing states to collect taxes from online retailers

Star Tribune
Minnesota's biggest retailers heralded the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on Thursday to clear the way for states to require companies such as Amazon and Wayfair to collect sales tax.

Brick-and-mortar businesses, including Target Corp. and Best Buy Co. Inc., have long complained that they are disadvantaged by having to charge sales taxes while many of their online competitors do not. States have said that they are missing out on tens of billions of dollars in annual revenue under a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that helped spur the rise of internet shopping.. . . more

Westfield Plans To Build 670 Apartments At Montgomery Mall After Sears Closes
The Sears at the Westfield Montgomery Mall is expected to close next year, and the mall owner is looking to launch a major mixed-use development on its piece of the property. 

 Westfield presented plans to the community Wednesday to build 670 apartments and 300K SF of new retail and hotel space on the 28-acre site now occupied by the Sears and the surrounding parking lot, Bethesda Magazine reports. . . . more

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Supreme Court: States can collect online sales tax

Chain Store Age
The U.S. Supreme Court has handed down its eagerly anticipated decision regarding online sales tax collection — and some digital retailers are not going to be happy.

In a 5-to-4 ruling, the court opened the door for states to collect sales taxes on companies that operate entirely online and do not have a physical presence in that state. The decision overturned a longstanding rule that states can collect sales taxes only on sales if the retailer has a “bricks and mortar” presence in that state.. . . more

22 experiential stores NYC has to offer

Retail Dive
Whether you're in Manhattan for pleasure or business, there are dozens of experiential stores to check out. Some double as community hangouts, some serve as learning experiences and some are just for the fun of it.

Here are 22 to hit up next time you're in the Big Apple. . . . more

Trader Joe’s rates high in customer experience, reports study

Supermarket News
Trader Joe’s ranked first among multichannel retailers in Forrester Research’s 2018 U.S. Customer Experience Index.

Based on a survey of more than 110,000 U.S. adults, the Forrester CX Index aims to measure and rank how well a brand’s customer experience strengthens shopper loyalty. The Cambridge, Mass.-based research firm benchmarked the customer experience quality at 287 U.S. brands, including 42 leading multichannel retailers. . . . more

Dollar General in management hiring spree

Chain Store Age
Dollar General needs more managers to support its rapid growth — and it wants them sooner rather than later.

The discounter on Thursday said that during the next 10 days it is looking to fill management roles within its retail operations, distribution centers and corporate functions. Available positions include retail district managers, retail region directors, distribution center assistant directors and distribution center supervisors.

Dollar General continues to grow at a fast pace. It is on track to open 900 stores in 2018.. . . more

Williams-Sonoma CEO: Even Amazon sees the benefits of having physical stores

As Williams-Sonoma's business shifted from selling via catalogs to selling online, the furniture and kitchenware retailer remained consistently adamant about one thing: its stores.

"Even Amazon believes that they should have some real spaces," Laura Alber, the company's president and CEO, told CNBC on Wednesday. "When you go in a store and it's wonderful, it helps you make the purchase.". . . more

Kroger nets $2B profit on sale of convenience stores

Cincinnati Enquirer
Kroger reported a $2 billion profit Thursday for its first quarter, reaping a windfall from the sale of its convenience store business.

Excluding its $1.8 billion profit from the sale of its business, Kroger netted a $626 million profit.

Total sales rose 3.4 percent to $37.5 billion. Identical-store sales in supermarkets excluding fuel increased 1.4 percent during the fiscal quarter ended May 26.. . . more

Debt Extension Isn’t Likely to Save Sears, Experts Say

Sears Holding Corp. continues to gasp for air. However, the struggling company just got some breathing room from creditors after receiving more time to refinance its debt.

In a June 4 Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Sears says it has two additional years to pay back its lenders, including Sears CEO Eddie Lampert. The company consolidated three loans, including two real estate loans, totaling $593 million, which were due next month. The new consolidated loan’s due date has been pushed out to July 20, 2020. . . . more

Amazon rolls out try-before-you-buy program to all Prime members

Chain Store Age
Amazon’s Prime Wardrobe service is now available to all Prime members — and no invitation is necessary.

Shoppers can order (and try on) between three and eight items of clothing, shoes or accessories before they actually have to buy any merchandise — with no upfront charge or added styling fee. Shoppers can keep the items for seven days. They return unwanted pieces and only pay for the items they keep.. . . more

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Lidl not very disruptive so far

Chain Store Age
German discount grocery giant Lidl is not shaking things up to the extent that many had feared.

That’s according to a report by shopper intelligence firm Catalina, which found that the opening of U.S. stores by Lidl was less disruptive to competing supermarkets than some grocers had originally feared. Catalina found that nearby incumbent supermarkets lost close to 7% of overall sales during the first month of a Lidl store opening, but the impact on those same stores declined rapidly, falling to less than 2% of store sales by the fourth month. . . . more

Sears Is Closing More Stores -- and This Mall Operator Is Happy About It

The Motley Fool
At the end of 2018's first quarter, once-thriving retailer Sears was operating 381 fewer stores than it was a year ago. And the company's footprint is continuing to shrink. Sears announced more closures recently, and it looks like a total of 275 Sears and Kmart stores could close during 2018.

As a result, many malls across the U.S. are about to be left with massive amounts of vacant square footage, and as a result, many mall operators are getting hammered.. . . more

Shake Shack founder sees cashless future for his business

Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer is defending his restaurant group's push into cashless transactions, saying in a blog post, "we're unaware of any federal law that requires private businesses to accept [cash]."

"We know that some have raised concerns about the socioeconomic implications of operating a cashless business," Meyer said in the post. "By not accepting cash, a restaurant may be excluding prospective guests who do not have a bank account. And we might be inconveniencing guests who simply don't have their credit/debit on them at the time. That's certainly not our aim." . . . more

Can't choose between Sears and Kmart? Now you can get two-in-one

USA Today
The Sears department store chain, which has been shrinking, is experimenting with doubling up with its corporate sibling, sister chain Kmart.

A Sears store in New York City now sports a Kmart section.

The retailer opened a Kmart convenience store inside a Sears store in Brooklyn over the weekend in a move to woo shoppers not only looking to make bigger purchases, but those loading up on smaller items like paper towels or detergent. . . . more

Amazon rolls out last-stop solution for package deliveries

Chain Store Age
Amazon wants to help apartment dwellers across the United States secure their package deliveries—even if the package isn’t from Amazon.

The company is rolling out Hub by Amazon, a delivery locker designed to be placed in the common area of apartment buildings and other housing complexes. The customizable unit can feature between 42 and 55 lockers. There are indoor and outdoor models, which stand 6 ft. high and 7 ft. high, respectively.. . . more

Two of Ascena’s fashion-outlet brands going online

Chain Store Age
Apparel giant Ascena Retail Group is expanding its premium outlet fashion business to the online world.

Loft Outlet launched its e-commerce site on June 19, while Ann Taylor will enter digital retail on June 26. The online sites will offer the same products that are sold in the brands’ brick-and-mortar stores stores, along with special launch offers.. . . more

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Starbucks says it will close 150 stores next year
Starbucks will close 150 poorly performing company-operated stores next year, about three times as many as it typically closes.

The company told investors late Tuesday that it expects same-store sales to grow just 1% for the quarter that begins next month, lowering its previous guidance. The stock slumped 3.5% in after-hours trading.. . . more

How long can the off-price retail party go on?

Retail Dive
Thanks in part to solid fundamentals like a robust merchandise pipeline, a healthy consumer base and plenty of runway for brick-and-mortar expansion, the off-price segment is on pace to reach $18 billion to $19 billion of incremental sales by 2021, according to a September note on the sector from JPMorgan analysts. Around the same time, Moody's Investors Service released a note saying much the same thing, crediting the retailers' significant scale, flexible purchasing, strong and expanding vendor relations and adaptable real estate strategies, for their endurance.

But does a century-old retail concept, in the age of instantaneous price-checking, the rise of e-commerce and a glut of apparel sellers, really have staying power?. . . more

Florida Officials Approve Plan to Build Largest U.S. Mall

The Wall Street Journal
At a time when store closures are accelerating and struggling malls pockmark the country, county commissioners in Florida have approved a plan to build what would be the largest mall in the U.S.

American Dream Miami would also be the most expensive mall ever built, according to Canadian developer Triple Five Worldwide Group of Cos. The 6.2-million-square-foot retail and entertainment complex would cost an estimated $4 billion, Triple Five says. . . . more

Sears, Kmart stores ailing as CEO Eddie Lampert's hedge fund gets hundreds of millions

USA Today
When he became CEO of Sears Holdings, Eddie Lampert declared he was on a mission to restore the iconic retailer to its former glory. Since then he's extended billions of dollars in loans from his hedge fund to Sears and Kmart.

But the difference between what Sears has invested in its stores — and therefore what customers experience when they shop — is stark compared with many of its peers, a USA TODAY review of public filings and analyst research shows. And if the chain ever sinks into bankruptcy, the records show Lampert's hedge fund will be positioned at the front of the line when loans are repaid. . . . more

Toys ‘R’ Us says more than 115 companies interested in brand

New York Post
As Toys ‘R’ Us fades to black, scores of businesses are scrambling to keep it alive.

The bankrupt retailer says that interest in its intellectual property, which includes its Babies ‘R’ Us, Toys ‘R’ Us and Geoffrey trademarks, is so high that it needs more time to discuss the matter with potential bidders, according to court documents.. . . more

Roslindale chef says liquor license plan forced him to close restaurant

Boston Herald
Mayor Martin J. Walsh is backing a proposal — which must be approved by the Legislature — that would create 152 new liquor licenses in Boston over the next three years. State law currently limits Boston to 745 liquor licenses.

The proposed new licenses would be nontransferable, meaning a restaurant would have to return its license to the city instead of selling it on the open market if it goes out of business. But the new licenses will also cost far less than the six-figure prices existing licenses go for on the open market, which opponents fear will lead to devaluation of current licenses.. . . more

GameStop in talks with buyout firms after drawing interest

Video game and electronics retailer GameStop Corp is holding talks with private equity firms about a potential transaction after receiving buyout interest, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

Like most brick-and-mortar retailers, GameStop has suffered from heightened competition from online companies including Amazon Inc. Games retailers have also had to cope with a decline in physical video game sales, although GameStop has partly weathered these declines by expanding into used video games and devices as well as digital products.. . . more

CVS Health will now deliver prescriptions to your home

Boston Herald
CVS Health will make prescription deliveries nationwide to accommodate the heightened expectations of convenience from consumers.

The nation's second-largest drugstore chain says it also will make home deliveries of other items, like allergy medicines, vitamins or household products. The service will cost $4.99 for deliveries made in one or two days.. . . more

Monday, June 18, 2018

PetSmart Lenders Square Off as Third Group Forms in Asset Battle

Lender groups across PetSmart Inc.’s capital structure have squared off in groups and enlisted the help of restructuring advisers in an effort to protect their collateral after the company “ pulled a J. Crew.”

Certain unsecured bondholders this week became the latest to organize, bringing in law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy to assist in future discussions with the pet superstore, according to people familiar with the matter.. . . more

Fast-casual concept look to Northeast expansion

Chain Store Age
An eatery that began as a walk-up counter in Midtown Manhattan in 2011 is looking to expand with a new prototype.

Melt Shop has opened a new location at The Westchester, a Simon Mall in downtown White Plains, New York. The sleek, modern format will serve as the prototype the company plans to use for all its mall locations moving forward.. . . more

H&R Block Is Closing 400 Locations

H&R Block, the tax preparation firm with nearly 10,000 locations nationwide, announced on Tuesday that it would close 400 locations amid a disappointing financial outlook for the rest of 2018.

On a call with analysts yesterday, CEO Jeff Jones said the locations slated for closing are mostly smaller storefronts within five miles of another location. No job cuts are planned, and associates are expected to transfer to nearby locations. . . . more

Amazon’s online furniture category sales soar

Chain Store Age
In addition to holding the largest market share in the online furniture category, Amazon has more than tripled its annual furniture sales since 2015, according to “Furniture: The Amazon Effect,” a report from One Click Retail.

According to data, Amazon’s furniture sales were an estimated $4 billion in 2017, representing more than 51% growth year-over-year. The company is grabbing sales through a methodical approach, one that includes a curated site, Amazon Home, which enables customers to shop by room, look, home decor, specific items, or category, such as kitchen & dining, bed & bath, garden & outdoor.. . . more

Subway hires Bain to help with sales slump

New York Post
Subway, the struggling family-owned sandwich chain, has hired consultant Bain & Company to professionalize operations and possibly set itself up for a future sale, The Post has learned.

The 52-year-old chain, the largest in the US by the number of locations, had previously resisted bringing in outside professionals for anything other than advertising, according to two Subway insiders.. . . more

BJ's Wholesale sees IPO at $15-$17/share

BJ’s Wholesale Club Holdings Inc expects its initial public offering to be priced between $15 and $17 per share, giving the warehouse club operator a market capitalization of up to $2.15 billion.

The company, which was taken private in 2011 for $2.8 billion, filed with regulators to go public for the second time last month.

It owns 215 warehouse clubs, mainly on the U.S. east coast, and competes with Costco Wholesale Corp and Walmart Inc’s Sam’s Club.. . . more

Rent-A-Center is sold

The Dallas Morning News
Rent-A-Center said Monday that its board has accepted a $15-a-share offer from Florida-based Vintage Capital. The deal is valued at $1.365 billion, including debt. 

The Florida-based private equity firm has invested in the rent-to-own business for some time. It's the controlling shareholder of Buddy's Home Furnishings, a fast-growing Florida-based competitor of Rent-A-Center. Buddy's is the third largest rent-to-own chain with 330 stores, mostly in the South, according to Vintage's website. . . . more

Friday, June 15, 2018

Retailers Fume Over Tax Law Typo That Makes Renovations Pricier

Retailers and restaurants were supposed to be the big winners under the Republican tax law, but a last-minute drafting error that doubles the tax costs for badly-needed store renovations could eat into those gains.

Now the industry, led by Target Corp., Best Buy Co. and KFC-owner Yum! Brands Inc., is becoming more aggressive in pushing for a solution. In letters and visits to Washington last week, representatives urged congressional leaders of both parties to correct what’s been dubbed the “retail glitch.” While GOP leaders acknowledge the mistake, they haven’t guaranteed a quick fix. . . . more

Sam’s Club to open small concept focused on tech, fresh and grab-and-go foods

Retail Wire
Sam’s Club announced plans to open a new smaller store concept that’s big on tech, fresh foods and grab-and-go meals.

The new store, which measures 32,000-square-feet compared to the typical 100,000 to 150,000-square-foot club, emphasizes the use of tech with digital signage throughout the store and cashier-less checkouts using Scan & Go.. . . more

Drugstore Chains Adapt New Real Estate Strategies to Compete with Online Sellers

The country’s two major drugstore chains, CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens, are not immune to the impact of Amazon, which is eager to get a slice of the lucrative pharmaceutical pie, and other online retailers.

“Drugstores are not internet-resistant retailers, and as such, they need to closely evaluate their products and service offerings in an effort to stay relevant with their customers,” says Lanie Beck, director of research at Stan Johnson Co., which specializes in net lease investments. “If they can’t find a way to draw consumers into their stores, they risk losing market share to companies like Amazon, Walmart and online prescription retailers.”. . . more

Cirque du Soleil heading to the mall

Chain Store Age
An entertainment giant is looking to expand its brand with a new concept specifically designed for retail locations.

Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group will open its first “family entertainment centre” in September 2019, in Toronto, in partnership with real estate firm Ivanhoé Cambridge. Cirque du Soleil said it is in discussions with the Montreal-based developer for additional locations in Canada. It is also in talks with other partners to open outside of Canada.

The new concept, called Creactive, will offer a range of acrobatic, artistic and other Cirque du Soleil-inspired recreational activities, such as bungee jumping, wire and trampolines, mask design, juggling, circus track activities, dance and more. The space will average 24,000 sq. ft. . . . more

Bidding continues for Toys ‘R’ Us locations

Chain Store Age
Bankrupt Toys “R” Us is slowly liquidating its huge real estate portfolio.

Following an auction earlier this year, another round of the retailer’s 800-plus stores has been bid on, and the buyers include Aldi, Big Lots, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and Ashley Furniture, reported CNBC. The report cited court documents filed Wednesday in Virginia. . . . more

Kroger to exit one of its markets

Chain Store Age
Kroger Co. is saying farewell to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

The supermarket giant confirmed that it will exit the Raleigh-Durham market on or about Aug. 14, by closing and selling its 14 locations. Kroger has had stores in the market since 1989.. . . more

Canadian retailer Roots' first Boston store is a sensory shopping experience

Boston Business Journal
Canadian sportswear brand Roots is opening the first of three new stores in Greater Boston on Newbury Street Friday, and plans to open additional locations in Natick and Lynnfield by the end of the month.

The company, which sells apparel, footwear, leather goods and accessories, is introducing Boston to its brand with a sensory shopping experience. Customers can walk through a tunnel made of the fabrics used in Roots sweatpants, personalize a leather item in the "leather customization workshop," and follow a timeline of the company’s history through different rooms. . . . more

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Madison Marquette-PMRG merger confirmed

Chain Store Age
The $7 billion merger between Madison Marquette and PMRG is a go, both companies have confirmed.

The two real estate companies — both with major stakes in mixed-use and retail — will be headquartered in Washington, D.C., and maintain a major presence in Houston. Madison Marquette and PMRG have long shared common clients among the top institutional owners and investors. PMRG’s strong foothold in the South, meanwhile, is complementary to Madison’s presence in primary markets on both coasts.. . . more

Michaels Q1 earnings top Street; outlook disappoints

Chain Store Age
The Michaels Companies Inc. beat first-quarter profit expectations, but missed on same-store sales and provided a downbeat second-quarter outlook.

Revenue inched down to $1.156 billion from $1.159 billion, beating estimates of $1.151 billion. Same-store sales edged up 0.4%, less than expected, with an increase in the average amount of a transaction partially offset by a decrease in customer transactions.. . . more

U.S. retail sales jump 0.8% in May, point to strong second-quarter GDP

Sales at retail stores surged in May, but the increase was a double-edged sword. Americans are spending more because of a strong economy, but rising inflation also means they have to pay more for gas and other staples.

Retail sales nationwide jumped by 0.8% last month, twice as high as the MarketWatch forecast. Sales growth in April and March were also revised up sharply, partly reflecting changes in how the government calculates the numbers.. . . more

Microsoft takes aim at Amazon with push for checkout-free retail

Microsoft Corp is working on technology that would eliminate cashiers and checkout lines from stores, in a nascent challenge to Inc’s automated grocery shop, six people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant is developing systems that track what shoppers add to their carts, the people say. Microsoft has shown sample technology to retailers from around the world and has had talks with Walmart Inc about a potential collaboration, three of the people said.. . . more

Gap's namesake brand picks a new CEO as it tries for a comeback

LA Times
Gap Inc. has named Neil Fiske as president and chief executive of its namesake brand as the clothing retailer looks for a comeback amid declining mall traffic, operational missteps and disappointing growth.

The search for a new top executive for the brand began in February, when the San Francisco company announced Jeff Kirwan would leave the post after just over three years. The Gap brand has been the company’s most troubled division, with a slew of management changes and shifts in strategy. The parent company has been working to fix issues at the brand, which have included late deliveries that resulted in excess inventory that it had to discount in order to sell.. . . more

Joann unveils new store prototype

Chain Store Age
Fabric and craft retailer Joann opened a new prototype that combines technology, dedicated community and learning spaces and new custom services.

The format, unveiled on June 13 in Columbus, Ohio, offers a reimagined shopping experience. All of the store’s features and classes were developed based on the latest trends. For example, Pinterest, which partners with the retailer, has seen a surge in searches for DIY personalized T-shirts. The trend is reflected in an area where customers can learn to make custom shirts using electric-cutting machines and a wide array of materials and accessories. . . . more

'I ultimately am not afraid to get fired': Leaked audio captures Whole Foods CEO John Mackey describing clashes with Amazon

Business Insider
Whole Foods CEO John Mackey said Tuesday that the company's same-store sales were growing again under Amazon, which purchased the grocery chain 10 months ago in a $13.7 billion deal.

"It's been an incredible year," Mackey said Tuesday during a town-hall-style companywide meeting, according to audio of the meeting obtained by Business Insider. "Our increase in sales has been far greater than I anticipated, and it's continuing."

But the relationship with Amazon has also come with many challenges, he said.. . . more

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

An Investment Management Firm Wants to Combine Stores and Fulfillment Centers

Shlomo Chopp, managing partner with New York City-based investment management firm Case Equity Partners LLC, thinks he’s come up with an innovation that could help bring retail REITs out of their market slump while also giving industrial REITs a bit of competition. His patent-pending idea ultimately would be a physical marriage of e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail.

Chopp envisions retail REITs partnering with his company to adopt a “shopping fulfillment center” concept. As its name suggests, this invention would merge shopping and fulfillment in one location.. . . more

RH continues to expand with showcase destinations; developing smaller model

Chain Store Age
RH will open four new stores (“Galleries”) this year, with locations in Portland, Oregon (opened in March); Nashville, Tennessee; Yountville, California; and New York City. The latter three will include a dining experience.

The New York City site, in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, will feature 90,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor space, with a transparent elevator that goes up to a glass-encased rooftop restaurant with retractable doors that open out to a landscaped park. (Also in Manhattan, in summer 2019, RH will open its first-ever hotel, called RH Guesthouse.) . . . more

Macy’s takes stake in tech retailer

Chain Store Age
Macy’s has taken a minority stake in a company that helps emerging brands build out brick-and-mortar stores with minimal effort.

The department store giant announced it is partnering with b8ta, and will leverage the tech retailer’s software platform to expand The Market @ Macy’s, pop-up shop marketplace concept currently in place in 10 Macy’s stores. As part of the deal, Macy’s has also acquired a minority equity stake in b8ta.. . . more

Zara Boosts Profit Margin, Bucking an Industry Trend

The Wall Street Journal
Zara’s parent company said same-store sales growth slowed in the latest quarter, though profit margins improved, as the world’s largest fashion retailer attempts to navigate an industrywide shakeout driven by competition from online retail.

Inditex SA said on Wednesday that sales in stores that have been open for at least one year rose in all its markets in its fiscal first quarter. Analysts estimated that what are known as like-for-like sale rose around 5% in the three months ending April 30 compared with a year earlier. That is a slight slowdown from the company’s previous fiscal quarter, when like-for-like sales rose around 6% year-over-year.. . . more

Chef'd is bringing its meal kits to Walgreens, Duane Reade

Grocery stores are no longer the only place to pick up a meal kit on the go.

Chef'd said Wednesday it will sell its meal kits at 30 Walgreens and Duane Reade stores in the New York area as part of a partnership with Smithfield Foods. . . . more

Lands' End Exits More Sears Stores, Calming Investors

Lands’ End Inc. investors may be warming back up to the retailer as it further breaks free from former parent Sears Holdings Corp. by shuttering more in-store shops in favor of smaller standalone locations.

The one-time Sears unit has been phasing out its sites situated inside the struggling chain, halving its number of in-Sears shops since the 2014 split. It’s planning to drop that number to about 100 by the end of the year from about 159 at the end of the first quarter.. . . more

Owners of fading malls 'on their knees' as buyer pool evaporates

Financial Post
Landlords have malls they’d like to unload. But who’d want to buy them?

As they battle the rise of e-commerce, U.S. mall owners are trying to clear their books of fading centres so they can focus on the most-profitable ones. That’s proving difficult, with just a shallow pool of investors who are willing to take on a declining mall and even fewer who would pay what the landlords want. Only about US$3 billion of retail real estate changed hands in April, a 27 per cent drop from a year earlier and the lowest monthly tally since February 2013, according to the latest data from Real Capital Analytics Inc.. . . more

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Mainely Burgers to open Boston Landing location

Boston Business Journal
Mainely Burgers will open its second brick and mortar restaurant at Boston Landing, marking the Brighton development's most recent retail lease, and the first for its new luxury apartment building Lantera.

The burger joint will take up 2,134 square feet on the ground floor of Lantera, located at 125 Guest St. The restaurant is owned and operated by brothers Jack and Max Barber, who began selling burgers from a food truck in Maine seven years ago. . . . more

The retail categories excelling at personalization are…

Chain Store Age
Consumers — especially Millennials — increasingly favor personalized products and experiences.

The top five retail categories that excel at offering personalized offerings are apparel and footwear, food and beverages, technology products, vacation and travel experiences, and household goods, according to “Made to Order: An analysis of U.S. consumers perceptions towards personalization,” a report from YouGov.. . . more

Toys R Us stores enter final days with new liquidation markdowns

USA Today
Toys R Us stores are entering their final days and ramping up the deals.

The iconic toy retailer announced a new round of markdowns were taken Monday on its social media accounts. Discounts now range from 50% to 70% with "limited exceptions," according to the Facebook post.. . . more

Sears expands Auto Center partnership with Amazon to more stores

Sears Holdings said Tuesday it's expanding its partnership with Amazon across the U.S.

The department store chain last month announced it would be working with the e-commerce giant to install car tires, from any brand including its own DieHard, ordered on The retailer has been using its Auto Centers, where customers can opt to have their tires shipped there and then installed by Sears' employees for a small fee.

This was initially available at 47 Sears Auto Centers. On Tuesday, Sears said it has added an additional 71 shops to the program, bringing the total to 118. . . . more

Retail Center Owners Look to Hotels to Bring New Life to Vacant Big-Box Spaces

Owners and operators of hotels and retail centers are increasingly partnering up in an effort to help drive traffic to retail properties and create more pedestrian-friendly developments.

It’s a trend that has arisen amid continuing headwinds facing retail real estate, a sector that has long seen challenges from the growth of e-commerce and changing consumer behaviors. . . . more

Restaurants Feeling The Squeeze On Traffic And Sales, Especially Midpriced Chains
Chain restaurants, especially those that occupy the middle ground between fast food and upscale dining, face an uphill battle as consumer tastes change. Part of that battle, it turns out, involves building traffic any way they can.

Same-store traffic in the industry dipped 2.9% year over year in May, which also represented an annual 1.5% drop from April, Restaurant News reports. Traffic growth year-to-date is down 2.5%, which is a bit better than the 3.2% drop for the same period in each of the previous two years. . . . more

One Year After Amazon's Whole Foods Buy, The Online Grocery Battle Lines Are Being Drawn
Amazon is betting it can transform the $641B U.S. grocery industry the same way it has so many others: by delivering products to consumers' doorsteps faster and more cheaply than its competitors. 

In the 12 months since the $13.7B deal became public, the e-commerce giant's market share has grown dramatically, and traditional grocers like Walmart and Kroger have raced to respond, hoping to take advantage of their larger retail footprints by incentivizing shoppers to pick up online purchases in store. . . . more

Monday, June 11, 2018

As 'dull retail is dying,' Dallas founders announce new department store Neighborhood Goods

Dallas News
As legacy retailers battle Amazon and suburban malls struggle to stay afloat, a Dallas startup is going the opposite direction: It's launching a new department store.

Neighborhood Goods plans to open this fall in Plano. It is co-founded by Matt Alexander, a Dallas entrepreneur with fashion and retail experience, and Mark Masinter, a real estate adviser to developers and well-known brands including Apple, J. Crew and Restoration Hardware. Alexander will serve as the company's chief executive.. . . more

Walmart’s ModCloth opening showroom stores

Chain Store Age
ModCloth, the indie and vintage online clothing retailer that Walmart acquired in March 2017, is upping its retail game. The company, which sells its own vintage-inspired line and a curated selection of styles from hundreds of indie designer, has opened a store in San Francisco, according to its website, which joins an existing location in Austin. And more are in the offing.

According to a report by Business Insider, additional ModCloth locations will open in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Customers can get style advice at a ModCloth store and try on styles, which they then can order online. The purchase will be shipped to their door free of charge.. . . more

The ‘go-to’ online retailer is…

Chain Store Age
Of the nearly seven in 10 Americans (69%) that have purchased an item online, 92% said they have bought an item through Amazon, according to a new NPR/Marist Poll.

According to data, 44% of online shoppers said that Amazon is their first stop when making an online purchase. This outshines Google (33%), the apps or websites of a specific store (10%), a specific brand online (6%), or an online marketplace such as eBay or Etsy (5%). . . . more

Rent-A-Center gets increased offer after ending strategic review

Rent-A-Center Inc said on Monday it received an increased offer to acquire the company from one of the suitors that was involved in its sale process, hours after the rent-to-own furniture retailer said it ended its strategic review.

In a letter to the company, the party said it “does not constitute an offer capable of being accepted or a binding agreement of any kind,” Rent-A-Center said.

“The (offer) letter was not accompanied by equity commitment letters that would be necessary for the company to evaluate whether to enter into an agreement with an acquisition entity possessing no assets,” Rent-A-Center said. . . . more

A Year After Amazon Devoured Whole Foods, Rivals Are Pursuing Countermoves

The Wall Street Journal Inc.’s year-old acquisition of Whole Foods is prompting the food industry to retool how it sells fresh food to consumers.

The e-commerce giant agreed to buy Whole Foods Market Inc. last June for roughly $13.5 billion and closed the deal in August. Since then, Amazon has rolled out additional deals and delivery to Prime members. Companies, investors and analysts expect more changes as Amazon uses data capabilities to track what shoppers buy at the grocery chain and market to them. . . . more

Commercial Real Estate Pricing Growth Stagnant As Retail Prices Offset Industrial Gains
Green Street Advisors released its Commercial Property Price Index on Friday, finding that commercial prices across the country rose 1% over the past 12 months, with three- and one-month splits at 0% and 1%, respectively. Within the flatness are two sectors pulling in opposite directions. 

In the past year, mall prices dropped 12% and strip retail dropped 3%, the only two sectors to see declines over that period. Industrial real estate, which includes distribution centers, rose 15% and is easily one of the hottest sectors in the market. The disparity between retail and industrial values reflects the changing way consumers spend their money.. . . more

How Many Stores Is Too Many For Starbucks?
With nearly 14,300 U.S. locations — more than 2,000 of which have opened in the last three years — there are now more Starbucks locations in the country than McDonald's. The coffee company has also been expanding its Reserve Roasteries at a rapid clip. 

Such growth might mean retail saturation for the chain, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing a number of industry analysts. 

“The U.S. coffee market is becoming over-stored, and traffic is hard to come by," Quo Vadis Capital President John Zolidis told the Journal.. . . more

Friday, June 8, 2018

Winners in Traditional Retailing Are Also Winning Online

The Wall Street Journal
When investors were betting that Amazon would crush every traditional retailer, it didn’t matter how their online sales were doing. Now, a clear gap has emerged between stores with solid e-commerce operations and those without.

At the far ends of each group are Macy’s , which continues to beat analyst expectations, and Sears , whose tailspin appears to be accelerating.. . . more

Amazon still dominates e-commerce, but others have room to grow

Retail Dive
E-commerce is taking a bigger share of retail sales — about 13% last year — but Amazon continues to take a larger cut of that share for itself, accounting for almost 42% of U.S. online sales last year, according to data discussed by Internet Retailer Editor-at-large Don Davis Wednesday at IRCE.

Still, four “bricks-and-clicks” retailers reported stronger online sales increases than Amazon last year, with Walmart at 61.5% growth (though much of it via acquisition), Lowe’s at 34.3%, Best Buy at 27.2% and Target with 24%, according to Davis’ data.. . . more

The future of grocery shopping: click or mortar?

Supermarket News
The future of grocery shopping has been debated for decades because it’s been changing for decades, but the speed of change—driven by everything from smartphones to data analytics—has turned up the volume on that debate. Nutrition Business Journal invited two experts with very different views on retail trends to share their opinions.. . . more

Eddie Bauer and Pacific Sunwear combined under new umbrella

Chain Store Age
Golden Gate Capital has established a new operating company for two of its portfolio companies that it acquired out of bankruptcy.

The new PSEB Group is composed of Eddie Bauer and Pacific Sunwear of California, both of which will maintain their distinct brand opportunities. It will have a retail footprint of more than 700 stores and is on track for approximately $1.5 billion in combined total sales in 2018, including $400 million in ecommerce sales. Although earlier reports suggested that Golden Gate might merge the companies in an effort to consolidate stores, there was no talk of store closings in the announcement.. . . more

'Everybody Wants Chick-fil-A': Why The Chicken Chain Is Dominating Fast Food
The fast-food chicken experience has graduated from drive-thru three-piece buckets to three-block-long lines of customers on city streets, courtesy of one Atlanta-based chain.

Chick-fil-A locations generate more revenue than any other fast-food restaurant in the U.S. The average franchise of the chicken company saw $4.4M in sales in 2016, according to restaurant trade publication QSR. The next-closest chains in per-store sales were Panera Bread and Whataburger, at $2.7M each. . . . more

Thursday, June 7, 2018

J.C. Penney looks to score with new in-store shop initiative

Chain Store Age
J.C. Penney is going all in with Fanatics, the online seller of officially licensed sports merchandise.

The department store retailer has rolled out in-store Fanatics shops in 325 Penney stores, with plans to add approximately 325 additional Fanatics destinations by the back‐to‐school season. (Penney has had a partnership with Fanatics since 2014, via its online Sports Fan Shop, but this is the first time the relationship has expanded to brick-and-mortar.). . . more

Lidl striking chord with U.S. shoppers

Chain Store Age
Shoppers — particularly younger ones — are warming up to German discount grocer Lidl, which entered the United States market one year ago.

Forty-eight percent of 600 consumers who tried Lidl are now shopping there on a regular basis (more than twice per month), according to an independent survey by global consulting firm Oliver Wyman. Consumers also are spending more money per shopping trip at Lidl today than a year ago, indicating they have found a wider range of Lidl products they prefer.. . . more

Property Investors Vote on Future of Retail With Their Dollars

Investors in real estate are sending a strong signal about the future of retail.

Values for U.S. industrial buildings, including the warehouses that serve as distribution hubs for Inc. and others that sell goods online, have been wildly outperforming retail-property values for some time. A new report from Green Street Advisors LLC shows that industrial values have climbed 15 percent over the past year, the most of the 10 types of commercial real estate the research firm tracks. Over the same period, prices for malls, the worst performer, fell 12 percent.. . . more

Online Retailers Continue to Grow Their Physical Footprints

Amidst a tumultuous environment for brick-and-mortar retailers, online brands continue to flip the script and open physical stores. Many landlords are welcoming them, hoping they will help draw shoppers.

While some are start-ups testing the waters and figuring out their brick-and-mortar strategy, others have a proven formula and are expanding. They already know their customer base and which markets they want to be in, and they’re targeting tech-savvy consumers, particularly millennials, which landlords want to attract.. . . more

Neiman Marcus’ ‘strategy is working,’ increasing revenue, sales in Q3

Chain Store Age
Neiman Marcus Group is on a roll with three consecutive quarters of year-over-year sales growth, an indication that the company’s focus on innovations across the customer experience is paying off.

Same-store sales increased 6%. Meanwhile, online sales increased 17.1% to $416 million, a segment that represents more than 35% of overall sales. . . . more

Aldi’s long-awaited mixed-use project reportedly in works for 2019

Chain Store Age
Aldi is making good on its promise to open a store in a new Minneapolis apartment building.

The grocer is moving ahead with its plan to participate in a mixed-use project in Minneapolis, with plans to open a new store by spring of 2019. Aldi first announced its intention to participate in the project two years ago, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. . . . more

Five Below beats Street, provides strong Q2 guidance

Chain Store Age
Five Below was strong out of the gate in the first quarter, due in part to successful sales across new stores.

Net sales increased by 27.2% to $296.3 million from $232.9 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2017. Comparable sales increased by 3.2%.. . . more

Target launching design-focused home brand

The Star Tribune
Target, which helped pioneer the idea of democratizing design with its Michael Graves partnership in the 2000s, is returning to that concept with a new home brand with a functional, clean design in mind.

Made by Design is Target’s fourth new home brand launched in the past year, and the Minneapolis-based retailer expects it will become a billion-dollar brand, a spokesman said.. . . more

Price war intensifies between Costco, Target and Walmart
You're not imaging things. Stuff is a little bit cheaper at Costco, Target, Walmart and Kroger this year.

All four companies have said in recent months that they lowered prices.

Costco: "Price is at the top of our list," Costco chief financial officer Richard Galanti told investors on Friday. "When prices are going down...we want to be the first to go down.". . . more

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Retail Strategy Switches
Arguably, nowhere is the overworked phrase “retail experience” more evident than in malls and shopping centers. As Crystal Allen, Transwestern’s SVP of retail services, indicates, the old shopping magnets have switched.

“Over the past five to 10 years,” she tells, “the mix has changed dramatically.” As enticements to stay longer, landlords are starting to lead with the former minority players—the restaurants and entertainment. “Traditionally, 75% of the mix was soft goods,” says Allen. “Now restaurants and entertainment can take up as much as 50%.” . . . more

Hawaii, Wisconsin are fastest-growing real estate states

Chain Store Age
It’s said that retail follows rooftops, so expansion-minded retailers might want to set their sights on Hawaii, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Washington, according to a report from Experian.

The credit reporting service ascribes a strong economy and historically low unemployment for home sale booms in several states. The 10 states with the biggest percentage increases in the first quarter of 2018, according to Experian, were:
 . . . more

16 Ways Malls Are Filling Space Besides Stores

The Motley Fool
With retail chains closing at a record pace, empty spaces are piling up at some malls. With Toys R Us and Bon-Ton going out of business entirely while perennial anchor tenants Macy's has closed hundreds of locations and Sears appears to be at risk of closing entirely, mall owners are finding themselves looking for clever ways to fill openings. Add in the fact that interior mall retailers including Claire's, Gymboree, Rue 21, Payless, and countless others have declared bankruptcy, and you have a crisis for mall owners that's not going to be solved by more retailers coming along.

Instead, if malls want to remain viable, their owners have to turn to something other than stores to fill open spaces. That has started to happen and the result is a transformation for some malls from shopping centers to something new entirely. . . . more

McDonald's Kiosks Are The New Cashiers

McDonald's will roll out self-order kiosks to 1,000 stores every quarter for the next two years, according to CEO Steve Easterbrook.

The kiosks were already in roughly 3,500 US McDonald's restaurants as of March, or about one-fourth of its domestic stores. They will be in about half of US restaurants by the end of 2018 and in all stores by 2020. McDonald's locations in Australia, Canada, and the UK are even further along in kiosk usage.. . . more

Bertucci’s ‘very expandable,’ new owner says

Boston Herald
The owner of Planet Hollywood and a number of chain restaurants has bought the bankrupt local Italian chain Bertucci’s, and said he plans to expand the company’s reach again.

“I’ve been a fan of Bertucci’s brand a long time,” said Robert Earl, the new owner. “I consider myself someone who likes to take good brands who might have lost their way a little and restore them.” . . . more

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Maurices suffers losses, store closures in third quarter

Duluth News Tribune
Maurices continued to close stores last quarter.

The Duluth-based women's clothing company closed seven stores in its third quarter ending April 28, dropping from 993 to 986 stores, according to parent company Ascena’s results released Monday.

Maurices had $236.6 million in sales in the third quarter, down from $256.1 million during the same period in 2017.. . . more

Proposed merger to create $7B-plus real estate company

Chain Store Age
Madison Marquette, whose trendsetting projects range from the new District Wharf in the nation’s capital to Pacific Place in Seattle, plans to merge with PMRG to create a company with more than $7 billion in assets.

In business since 1954, PMRG leases, manages, and provides investment and development services across a portfolio of office, industrial, medical, and multi-family space in 17 states. Its holdings are valued at over $2 billion and include a landmark 40-story multi-family development in Houston and the Confluence luxury multi-family tower in Denver. . . . more

Lanesborough gives Berkshire Mall owner June 18 deadline to pay nearly $1M in back taxes

The Berkshire Eagle
The owner of the Berkshire Mall has two weeks to pay nearly $1 million in back taxes or the town will seize control of the county's largest shopping complex.

Michael Kohan, principal of Berkshire Mall Realty Holdings LLC, has vowed not to lose control of the 720,000-square-foot building on the 89-acre site.. . . more

Ahold Delhaize U.S.A. gets in on the meal kit game

Chain Store Age
Two Ahold Delhaize U.S.A. banners will soon be selling meal kits.

Through a partnership with meal kit provider HelloFresh, 581 stores under the Giant Food and Stop & Shop banners will feature the boxed offering. The meal kits will be largely concentrated in the Northeast. The partnership also marks HelloFresh’s retail debut. . . . more

Comcast rolling out interactive store format

Chain Store Age
Comcast is making its store fleet more customer centric.

The telecommunications giant is rolling out a new interactive Xfinity concept, with the first locations recently opened in Pueblo, Col.; Aventura, Fla.; Henrico, Va., and Chattanooga, Tenn. The company plans to open more than 50 of the new and enhanced Xfinity stores in high-traffic shopping centers across its service footprint in 2018. Comcast’s ultimate goal is for customers to be within a 15-minute drive of an Xfinity store. . . . more

Starbucks’ executive chairman to step down

Chain Store Age
It’s the end of an era at Starbucks.

The company’s executive chairman and architect of its spectacular growth, Howard Schultz, is stepping down after 40 years with the company. He will be honored with the title of chairman emeritus, effective June 26. The news of his retirement sparked reports that Schultz is considering a run for political office.. . . more

Stew Leonard's supermarket is a step closer to finally opening in Jersey
Stew Leonard's is one step closer to bringing their farm-style supermarket to the Garden State.

A store in being planned for the Paramus Park Mall where Sears shuttered its anchor position earlier this year. . . . more

Hudson's Bay to close up to 10 Lord & Taylor stores, including Fifth Avenue in New York

USA Today
Hudson's Bay Co. will close up to 10 Lord & Taylor stores, including the Fifth Avenue location in New York City, as department stores grasp for stability amid retail upheaval.

The decision to close the Lord & Taylor store on Fifth Avenue comes after the company recently decided to sell the property to co-working real estate firm WeWork.. . . more

Troubled Sears gets more time to pay back its loans

Sears Holdings says in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing it has been given two extra years to repay lenders, including its CEO and hedge fund owner Eddie Lampert.

In its filing Monday night, the troubled department store chain said it has consolidated three loans, including two real estate loans totaling roughly $320 million and due in July. The new consolidated loan is due in July 2020.

Sears said it has about $779 million due in 2020, which is secured by 69 Sears-owned real estate assets. . . . more

Monday, June 4, 2018

Walmart, Target, Kohl's see the light at the end of Toys R Us' tunnel

Retail Dive
Retailers are already preparing for the disappearance of Toys R Us from the market.

Since the toy retailer filed for bankruptcy last fall, media and analysts have speculated on who might grab Toys R Us' market share should it close stores or fail altogether. Now many are making plans to push deeper into the category as the 70-year old toy retailer winds down. . . . more

Recent Court Rulings Demonstrate Value of Operating Covenants

Many retail leases contain operating covenants included in a long list of boilerplate provisions.

Tenants agree to operate their stores for a minimum number of years during the lease term, but also agree to how many hours they will keep their doors open each week—usually conforming to the normal business hours for other tenants in the shopping center.

These provisions have not typically been heavily negotiated, and retail landlords have not had much success in enforcing them. When a tenant announces that they are closing their doors, the landlord’s best option tends to be a negotiated termination deal.. . . more

Specialty grocer cuts back on expansion amid financial woes

Chain Store Age
Dean & DeLuca is downsizing its retail footprint.

The 41-year-old upscale specialty grocer has been quietly shrinking its portfolio (down from 42 locations to 18), canceling planned stores, and fending off lawsuits from suppliers who claim they haven’t been paid, reported the New York Post. (The company also has nine licensed stores overseas.). . . more

Abercrombie turnaround holds steady in Q1

Chain Store Age
Abercrombie & Fitch exceeded Wall Street forecasts and cut its loss in the first quarter amid strong demand for Hollister and an upturn in its namesake brand.

Total same-store sales rose 5%. By brand, same-store sales 6% at Hollister and 3% at Abercrombie.. . . more