Friday, August 31, 2018

The critical role of search in the retail revolution

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

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

Burlington Stores Q2 income surges

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

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

Signet Q2 earnings, sales well above forecasts

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

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

Ulta Beauty earnings jump 30% but outlook misses

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

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

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

Why Dollar General thrives even in a hot economy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Four reasons why shoppers are in the mood to spend

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

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

Hollister disappoints as execs reiterate brick-and-mortar plan

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

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

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

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

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

Dollar Tree Q2 falls a bit short

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

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

Digitally native Eloquii continues offline expansion

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon continues to expand Whole Foods delivery service

Chain Store Age
Customers across four more markets are now eligible for Amazon’s free two-hour delivery service from Whole Foods Markets.

Amazon plans to continue expanding the service across the U.S. throughout 2018, according to the company.. . . more

American Eagle Outfitters to ramp up Aerie store expansion

Chain Store Age
American Eagle Outfitters, which on Wednesday reported its 14th consecutive quarter of same-store sales growth, is bullish on its fast-growing intimate apparel brand Aerie.

In the chain’s second-quarter earnings call, American Eagle CEO Jay Schottenstein described Aerie’s performance as “nothing short of spectacular, marking nearly four years of consecutive double-digit growth. . . . more

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

9 brands come together under one roof in Brooklyn to test new retail shop

Nine young retailers are coming together under one roof in New York to test a new, smaller-format mall, as the industry experiments with ways to draw in shoppers.

The space, called HiO, opens this week inside Acadia Realty's City Point shopping complex in downtown Brooklyn. . . . more

American Eagle Outfitters soars in Q2 but outlook disappoints

Chain Store Age
American Eagle Outfitters topped analysts’ estimates in the second quarter amid its 14th consecutive quarter of same-store sales growth, buts its third-quarter earnings outlook fell short.

The teen apparel retailer reported net income of $60.3 million, or 34 cents a share, in the quarter, up from $21.2 million, or 12 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Analysts had expected earnings of 31 cents a share.

Revenue rose to $964.9 million from $844.6 million, which was better than expected. Consolidated same-store sales rose 9%, also more than expected. . . . more

Chico’s tops Street amid ongoing omnichannel initiatives

Chain Store Age
Chico’s FAS sales declined 5.9% to $544.7 million from $578.6 million, but still topped Street estimates of $541.0 million. The decline reflected the impact of 42 net store closings since the year-ago period and a calendar shift with the addition of an extra week in 2017.

Total same-store sales were down 3.2%, as a lower transaction count was partially offset by higher average dollar sales. By brand, same-store sales fell 3.8% at Chico’s, 3.5% at White House | Black Market and 0.9% at Soma.. . . more

Tailored Brands on the hunt for a new CEO

Tailored Brands
Tailored Brands, whose banners include Men’s Wearhouse, Jos. A. Bank, and Joseph Abboud, announced that Doug Ewert will retire as CEO and as a member of the company’s board, effective September 30, 2018.

Ewert’s resignation was announced the same day as the resignation of Bruce Thorn, who is stepping down as president and COO of Tailored Brands, effective Aug. 31, to become CEO of Big Lots.. . . more

Dick's Sporting Goods plunges after saying it saw 'significant declines in Under Armour sales'

Business Insider
Dick's Sporting Goods earned $1.20 a share during the second quarter, easily beating the the $1.06 that Wall Street analysts surveyed by Bloomberg were expecting. Dick's recorded second-quarter sales of $2.18 billion, missing the $2.23 billion that was anticipated. Comparable sales fell 1.9%, worse than the 0.8% drop that was expected.

"As we continue to focus on driving profitable sales, we are very pleased with our strong gross margin improvement. An improved product cycle, fewer promotions, and a favorable product mix contributed to the overall strength in our merchandise margin," CEO Edward Stack said in the earnings release. . . . more

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

U.S. Consumer Confidence Rises to Highest in Almost 18 Years

Yahoo Finance
Consumer confidence unexpectedly rose in August to the highest level since October 2000, according to a report Tuesday from the New York-based Conference Board, on improved assessments of the economy and the outlook.

Confidence index increased to 133.4 (est. 126.6) from 127.9 in July; exceeded all forecasts in a Bloomberg survey of economists.. . . more

Best Buy shares fall despite earnings beat

Best Buy revenue in the second quarter climbed nearly 5 percent to $9.38 billion, surpassing the expected $9.28 billion.

Sales at Best Buy stores open for at least 12 months were up 6.2 percent overall. That included domestic same-store sales growth of 6 percent and international same-store sales growth of 10.1 percent. . . . more

Adventure park plans to quadruple its shopping center footprint

Chain Store Age
The master broker for Urban Air Adventure Parks told a convention of retail real estate executives on Monday that the Dallas-based chain was poised to deliver on that promise and would be doubling its shopping center presence to 100 locations this year before doubling them again to 200 by the end of 2019.

“Trampoline parks were the Nineties; people want more,” said Stern, a principal of Edge Realty Partners at the International Council of Shopping Centers show in Orlando. “So we’re giving them indoor skydiving, obstacle courses, zip-lines, and Euro-style go-carts.” . . . more

BJ’s Q2 tops estimates as it returns to public arena

Chain Store Age
BJ’s Wholesale Club Holdings beat Street estimates for its second quarter — its first reporting period since it returned to the public market in July.

Total revenue rose to $3.31 billion from $3.16 billion, beating estimates of $3.27 billion. Same-store sales rose 5%, higher than expected. . . . more

DSW soars in Q2; to exit Town Shoes

Chain Store Age
DSW Inc. on Tuesday reported earnings and revenue for its second quarter that crushed analysts’ estimates and raised its full-year guidance.

DSW’s revenue for the quarter ended July 29 increased 16.4% to $795 million, blowing past the $691 million analysts had expected. Same-store sales rose 9.7%, also much better than expected.. . . more

Watch out for First Watch

Chain Store Age
Breakfast and lunch restaurant First Watch is looking to eat competitors like Cracker Barrel for dinner with a new store concept and plans for expansion.

The Florida-based chain of 339 franchised and company-owned stores in 27 states plans to open at least 100 more of its “urban farm” concept restaurants by the end of 2019. The ultimate goal is 1,400 locations. . . . more

As Sears withers, its former stores fuel a new fortune

Boston Business Journal
Three years ago, Sears sold about 235 stores to Seritage Growth Properties, a spinoff company that was created to convert Sears and Kmart locations — which Sears also owns — into more valuable uses like offices and restaurants. The struggling retailer, in return, got a $2.7 billion infusion of cash.

The real estate play, put in motion by Edward S. Lampert, a hedge fund manager with a large role in both companies, is simple. As Seritage works to redevelop some of Sears’ best locations into more profitable uses, it is also collecting rent from Sears for stores still in operation.. . . more

Monday, August 27, 2018

Marvin Ellison’s new playbook for Lowe’s

Chain Store Age
Marvin Ellison has wasted no time in shaking things up at Lowe’s.

In his first week on the job, Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison unveiled a major restructuring of executive staff. And in the company’s first quarterly report under Ellison, Lowe’s unveiled a bombshell decision to close all 99 Orchard Supply Hardware stores.

So what else is new at Mooresville, N.C.-based Lowe’s? There’s a lot. The company reported second quarter revenue in excess of $20 billion – another first. Here are some of the other highlights from Lowe’s first quarterly report and earnings call under Ellison’s watch.. . . more

Del Frisco’s unveils 2nd Double Eagle in Boston

Nation's Restaurant News
Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group Inc. in mid-July opened its second Double Eagle Steakhouse in Boston, pulling the wraps off the 17,603-square-foot restaurant in the city’s Back Bay neighborhood.

Boston is the first city in the country to have two Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouses with over 17,000 square feet and interior seating for 450 and patio seating for 32.. . . more

Foot Locker in comeback

Chain Store Age
Foot Locker is back on track after a lackluster 2017, beating second quarter Street forecasts amid improved inventory management.

Net income totaled $88 million compared to net income of $51 million in the prior year.

Total sales rose 4.8% to $1.78 billion, besting analysts’ estimates of $1.76 billion. Same-store sales inched up 0.5%.. . . more

Eighty-two Toys ‘R’ Us properties going on auction block

Chain Store Age
A total of 82 former Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores and other real estate assets will be auctioned on Sept. 27 in Manhattan by advisory and real estate brokerage firm A&G Realty Partners and Raider Hill Advisors, private real estate investment and advisory firm. The auction will take place beginning at 10 a.m. EDT on Sept. 27 at the offices of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, 601 Lexington Avenue, New York.

The auction will include 52 ground-leased properties, 29 building leases and one parking lot lease. Ranging in size from 22,000 sq. ft. to 63,000 sq. ft., the sites include Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us locations, as well as side-by-side or combined stores with both nameplates. . . . more

Ross Stores accelerates store expansion plans

Chain Store Age
Ross Stores now sees even more potential for expanding its store network.

The off-pricer has raised its long-term projected store potential to 3,000 locations, up from the previous target of 2,500. The company believes that Ross Dress for Less can grow to about 2,400 locations nationwide, up from its prior target of 2,000, and that its dd Discounts chain can ultimately grow to about 600 stores, versus its earlier projection of 500.. . . more

Amazon has a second Go at cashierless convenience store in downtown Seattle

The Seattle Times
The bright orange wrapping is coming off the new Amazon Go store in downtown Seattle, the first expansion of the cashierless convenience store outside Amazon’s corporate campus.

People who have visited the pilot store, which opened in January on the ground floor of an Amazon building, will find largely the same experience at the new downtown store. . . . more

Amazon’s Whole Foods Is Starting to Steal Trader Joe’s Shoppers

When Inc. bought Whole Foods last year, investors panicked and dumped shares in Kroger, Sprouts Farmers Market and even Walmart. The fear was that the e-commerce leviathan would disrupt yet another industry. Since then, the concerns have subsided as investors and analysts came to recognize that it will be years before Amazon becomes a major player in the $800 billion industry. Meanwhile, traditional grocers have more than managed to hold their own.

Still, there are already hints that the fabled Amazon effect is boosting Whole Foods, which had been losing ground to rivals as organic food went mainstream. In more than 100 places around the U.S., the upscale grocer gained foot traffic at the expense of Trader Joe’s, Walgreen and Dollar Tree Stores in the past year. . . . more

Friday, August 24, 2018

Children's Place sales jump 20% as it preys on competitors

Retail Dive
The Children's Place barreled through its second quarter and back-to-school season, posting a 20.1% year-over-year spike in net sales, which totaled $448.7 million, according to a company release. Comparable sales were up 13.2% in Q2, partly due to a strong traffic increase at its brick-and-mortar stores and digital sales increases.

Net income in Q2 fell by nearly half, to $7.5 million, partly from costs related to the children apparel retailer's "transformation" efforts, while operating income more than tripled to $10 million. . . . more

Q2 Growth At Walmart, Target, TJX Hints That Retail’s Woes Are In The Rear-View Mirror

Retail Touchpoints
In 2017, the stories of retail bankruptcies, store closures and the decline of department stores conveyed a bleak outlook for the state of retail, giving rise to the term “retail apocalypse.” But one year later, it appears the industry has gone a long way toward righting itself, with some of retail’s top players leading the way in Q2.

Walmart, Target, The Home Depot and TJX all had excellent financial quarters, with the troubled department store sector even experiencing a slight bounceback (excepting JCPenney) on the strength of continued reinvestments. Urban Outfitters, the biggest winner of Q2, is something of a surprise. The retailer’s success showed that fashion and apparel can perform if fast inventory churn and low markdown rates are executed properly.. . . more

Target gives behind-the-scenes look at new store opening

Chain Store Age
Target Corp.  detailed the opening of its location in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia on its website.

“We’re located in a trendy, up-and-coming residential area, and our store is designed to cater to young professionals and college students living in small apartments nearby,” said visual merchandising director Beth Hinkle. “So we have expanded apparel and home departments with Target’s new exclusive brands front-and-center, lots of grab-and-go grocery options and other essentials.” . . . more

Who Killed Toys ‘R’ Us? Hint: It Wasn’t Only Amazon

The Wall Street Journal
On March 15, to the surprise of most people involved, the 70-year-old Toys “R” Us announced it was shutting for good.

Many factors contributed to the retailer’s troubles, including the costs of a leveraged buyout, competition from Inc. and a disastrous Christmas season. What pushed it over the edge, however, was a small group of hedge funds.. . . more

Old Navy does the heavy lifting for Gap in Q2

Chain Store Age
Gap Inc. sales rose 8% to $4.1 billion in the period ended August 5, better than the $4 billion analysts had expected.

Same-store sales increased 2%, marking the company’s seventh-consecutive quarter of positive comp growth. By brand, same-store sales rose 5% at Old Navy and 2% at Banana Republic. Same-store sales fell 5% at Gap, almost double what analysts had expected. . . . more

Walmart opens a new chapter with eBooks

Chain Store Age
Walmart is taking on Amazon in one of the online giant’s signature categories — and undercutting it on price.

In a first for the discounter, Walmart is launching a catalog of e-books, available in stores and online. The service, WalmarteBooks, is being launched in partnership with Rakuten Kobo, the digital book division of Japan’s top e-commerce company, Rakuten.. . . more

Finally ‘time to party’ at Springfield casino

Boston Herald
Nearly seven years after its existence in Massachusetts was signed into law, the first resort casino is set to open its doors today, a long-awaited milestone that has gone through hundreds of Gaming Commission meetings, two ballot questions and hundreds of millions of dollars in investment.

Now, MGM executives and state regulators take on the task of running and regulating a massive gaming company.. . . more

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Retailers worried about keeping up with change

Chain Store Age
Global retailers of all sizes have significant concerns over their ability to keep pace with new technologies and shifts in consumer behavior.

That’s according to a new report from Oracle Retail in which 60% of respondents said they believe that their organization will likely face disruption from more innovative, nimble and customer-centric organizations. While retailers believe their company embraces digital and mobile technology, 60% recognize that they are not investing quickly enough to keep pace with the speed of technology change and consumer expectations.. . . more

Williams-Sonoma delivers impressive Q2

Chain Store Age
Williams-Sonoma reported better-than-expected earnings and sales, fueled by strong performances by its West Elm brand, digital channel and growth across all its brands.

Total same-store sales rose 4.6%. By brand, same-store sales increased 9.5% at West Elm, 5.7% at Pottery Barn Kids and Teens, 2% at Pottery Barn and 1.6% at Williams-Sonoma.  . . . more

Another 46 Sears and Kmart stores closing in November: Here's the list

USA Today
Sears Holdings is closing 46 more Sears or Kmart stores as the struggling retailer seeks stability amid questions about its future.

The department store chain also said it will "continue to evaluate our network of stores" and "make further adjustments as needed," raising the distinct possibility of additional closures as the company continues reeling.

The latest plan involves closing 13 Kmart locations and 33 Sears stores in November, all of which are losing money. . . . more

The 'breadth of success' from traditional retailers will only continue going forward, UBS analyst says

Traditional retailers, including Target, will be able to maintain their success going forward as the consumer landscape shifts to digital, one analyst told CNBC on Wednesday.

Michael Lasser of UBS said what's been striking for Wall Street analysts this earnings season is the "breadth of success" among traditional retailers. . . . more

Do J.C. Penney Stores Have a Future?

To say that J.C. Penney is facing serious problems is an understatement.

The struggling department store’s stock plummeted on Aug. 16 more than 27 percent to $1.75 per share—the lowest level since the company’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange during the Great Depression in 1929, according to Reuters. This plunge followed the release of the retailer’s disappointing second-quarter earnings report, which fell short on both earnings and revenue.. . . more

Planet Fitness Sees Opportunity In Retail Vacancies
Even as some retail businesses shutter their doors, other brands see expansion in their future in some of the spaces left vacant. Planet Fitness, for one, is ramping up its growth, and many of its new locations are likely to occupy recent vacancies — and help replace missing anchors and drive traffic.

Between 2013 and 2017, the company added an average of 187 new locations each year. Since Planet Fitness was founded in the early 1990s, it has only closed 22 sites. According to Planet Fitness Chief Financial Officer Dorvin Lively, many of the brand's new locations will be in shopping centers.. . . more

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Brookfield Making Over GGP Malls With New Businesses and Tenants

The Wall Street Journal
Brookfield Property Partners had to overcome vocal GGP Inc. shareholder opposition last month to convince stockholders to approve its $15 billion takeover of the mall owner. That may prove to be the easy part.

Now Brookfield has to revitalize GGP’s 125-property portfolio at a time when many shopping malls are reeling. That means expanding GGP’s top-tier shopping centers with additional stores, while scaling back or reconfiguring less successful malls by adding housing, office space or hotels. . . . more

What's behind Best Buy's $800M foray into healthcare services?

Retail Dive
A few years ago Best Buy was flirting with disaster, faced with swiftly changing consumer expectations about shopping and the encroachment of retail's great disruptor, Amazon, into its category. But after a turnaround that involved strict cost controls, a re-imagining of its stores and a renewed focus on its Geek Squad services, Best Buy remains one of the preeminent sellers of electronics. Even Amazon has turned to it as a strategic partner to sell its new smart televisions.

Last week, however, Best Buy went well beyond electronics retail to acquire health and safety solutions company GreatCall for $800 million. . . . more

Target firing on all cylinders amid record store traffic, surging online sales

Chain Store Age
There was no stopping Target Corp. in its second quarter — online or off — as it reported skyrocketing digital sales and “unprecedented” store traffic growth.

The discounter’s stellar quarter came as the chain has focused on revamping its business to better compete in an omnichannel environment. Target’s hefty investments (totaling some $7 billion) in expanding its digital operations, remodeling its existing stores, rolling out new smaller-format locations, and enhancing its merchandising mix with an array of new house brands appear to be paying off.. . . more

A 'scary' development is taking place at Victoria's Secret

Market Insider
Pricing power continues to erode at L Brands as the brand extends more and more promos and yet the consumer still isn't responding. It's a major red flag considering Pink is a $3 billion business and accounted for all of Victoria's Secret's segment growth over the past 5 years, Konik added.

"Victoria's Secret brand is broken and PINK is now breaking," Konik reiterated in Monday's note.. . . more

Lowe's new chief shuts Orchard stores, promises streamlining

Yahoo Finance
Lowe's Cos Inc on Wednesday promised to cut back slow-moving products and unsuccessful business projects as new Chief Executive Marvin Ellison seeks to turn around a company that has trailed bigger rival Home Depot (HD.N) for years.

Shares of the company reversed course to rise as much as 10 percent and hit a record high as investors cheered better-than-expected quarterly sales and profit as well as Ellison's move to shut struggling Orchard Supply Hardware stores.. . . more

Chasing Amazon, grocers stock up on startups

Boston Business Journal
Chieh Huang spent years trying to get grocery industry executives excited about the technology at Boxed, his grocery e-commerce company. He regularly gave tours of the company’s state-of-the-art fulfillment centers, featuring a custom software system and roving bands of autonomous carts.

But interest in Boxed, which is not profitable and crossed $100 million in revenue in 2016, was lukewarm. “They were like, ‘What a cute lemonade stand,'” Huang said.

That changed a year ago when Amazon bought Whole Foods Market. . . . more

Wall Street Investors Increase “Big Short” Bets on CMBS Retail Loans

Hedge fund company Alder Hill Management is one high-profile player shorting CMBS with high concentrations of retail loans. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the hedge fund’s short 18 months ago, followed by a more recent story in early August that said the hedge fund made an additional short investment on 2012 and 2013 era loans. Earlier this spring, Bloomberg also reported that Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley had both recommended buying credit protection against, or shorting, segments of CMBS with heavy concentrations of retail loans.

Some people are looking at retail loans as the next “big short”, says Manus Clancy, senior managing director and the leader of applied data, research, and pricing departments at Trepp. . . . more

Dunkin’ rolls out new ideas

Boston Herald
Cold brew on tap, better mobile ordering, redesigned stores and selfie donuts. These are some of the new features customers can expect when they walk into one of 30 next-generation Dunkin’ — formerly Dunkin’ Donuts — in downtown Boston when they are finished by the end of the year, the company’s latest push to keep pace with competitors and remain relevant.

“Everything is changing, the world, technology, and everything like that. I think things are changing so fast, this has to be part of the equation going forward,” said David Hoffmann, chief executive of Dunkin’ Brands. “If you think you can just be a cash box selling drip coffee, I think the world will pass you by.”. . . more

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

TJX sales up 12% on 16th straight quarter of traffic increases

Retail Dive
TJX Cos. on Tuesday reported that second quarter net sales increased 12% to $9.3 billion and comparable sales increased 6% companywide, according to a press release.

TJX said that the spike in comps was primarily driven by increases in customer traffic across divisions. By brand, comps rose 7% at Marmaxx (which operates T.J. Maxx and Marshalls), 3% at Home Goods, 6% at TJX Canada and 4% at TJX International. Over the quarter, the retailer opened a net of 53 stores.. . . more

What Retail Apocalypse? Ask Some Department Stores, But Not All

Adapt or die isn’t just a tenet of evolution: It’s also the reality faced by the U.S. department-store industry. And some are doing it far better than their rivals.

Although the chains are often lumped together with other mall mainstays when lamenting the “retail apocalypse,’’ this past week’s earnings reports underscore just how different department stores’ strategies are amid a wider brick-and-mortar slowdown. . . . more

San Francisco Has a New Cashierless Store—and It Isn’t Amazon Go

Ad Week
Automated checkout startup Zippin has launched its software platform and opened a cashierless concept store in San Francisco that sells lunch items, snacks and drinks.

In a release, Zippin said its platform can be easily and quickly deployed by any retailer (although a story in Wired said it doesn’t work for clothes yet), and Zippin said it works accurately in crowded locations.. . . more

America’s favorite home retailers are…

Chain Store Age
A Swedish giant took one of the top spots in an annual survey of consumers’ favorite home furnishings retailers while a specialty hardware store beat out its bigger box competitors in the home improvement category.

Ikea ranks first among consumers when it comes to home furnishings, and Ace Hardware is their favorite home improvement chain, according to a study by customer experience management firm Market Force. . . . more

Sales at Kohl’s Rise Amid Robust Consumer Spending

The Wall Street Journal
Kohl’s Corp. posted improved sales results during the second quarter amid a wave of robust consumer spending that has buoyed many retailers.

Net sales rose 3.9% to $4.31 billion and adjusted comparable sales, which account for an extra week in last year’s retail calendar, rose 3.1% during the quarter, or 4.3% on a fiscal basis. . . . more

From Bed Bath & Beyond To Eggslut: How Taubman Is Shaking Up The Shopping Mall

If you were opening a U.S. shopping center in the “peak mall” era of the '80s, there was a definite formula: two department stores, a multiplex, as many national chain fashion stores as you could muster, and a gleaming food court. Simple.

That was the profile of Los Angeles’ Beverly Center when it opened in 1982. Today, however, that kind of retail mix is ancient history, and Beverly Center is in the midst of a $500 million radical reshaping. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, it’s part of a larger strategy by Taubman Centers to “double down” on mall investment in an effort to combat the shift to shopping online.. . . more

First downtown retail pot shop in Salem gets zoning approval

The Salem News
Salem, MA officials have given zoning approval to the first retail pot business seeking to open in the downtown.

Seagrass hopes to open in the old Deschamps Printing Company building at 3 Dodge St. It's the venture of third generation Salem resident Chip Tuttle, who is also chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs, and Nahant resident Don Wyse. . . . more

Monday, August 20, 2018

These are the fastest-growing retailers in America right now

Business Insider
America's fastest-growing retailers are bringing in millions and growing bigger every day.

A recent ranking in the National Retail Federation's Stores magazine used sales data from Kantar Consulting to take a look at the top 100 fastest-growing retailers in America. It found that the fastest-growing companies, based on year-over-year domestic sales growth, were Primark, Bass Pro Shops, and, with Amazon and Wayfair rounding out the top five. . . . more

Consumer sentiment slides to 11-month low

Chain Store Age
Consumer sentiment dipped in August amid concern about rising prices.

The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index fell to 95.3 in August, down from 97.9 in July, according to a preliminary reading. It was the lowest level in 11 months, and below economists’ expectations who were looking for it to reach 98. . . . more

Fast-casual, $300 million restaurant deal backed by founder of Panera Bread

Chain Store Age
Zoës Kitchen is being acquired in a deal that will create the nation’s largest restaurant operator in the Mediterranean category

The fast-casual, 261-unit Zoës has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by privately held Cava Group, operators of the fast-growing Cava chain. The combined company will have 327 restaurants in 24 states throughout the U.S. The deal was valued at approximately $300 million. . . . more

Long-delayed $3 billion mega-mall sets opening date

Chain Store Age
One of the nation’s most ambitious retail and entertainment projects has an opening date.

American Dream Meadowlands, the mammoth retail and entertainment destination now taking shape in East Rutherford, New Jersey, will open this spring, reported The long-delayed center will boost such attractions as an indoor Nickelodeon Universe theme park and water park, a Lego Discovery Center, a Sea Life aquarium, 16-story indoor ski slope, a miniature golf course — and more, including some 450 retail stores and a 150,000-sq.-ft. food hall.. . . more

Walmart eyes virtual reality shopping system

Ad Age
Trekking through a crowded, cavernous Walmart supercenter isn't much fun. But what if you could do it from the comfort of your own home through virtual reality?

The world's biggest retailer wants to find out, according to filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.. . . more

Sears CEO Puts His Own Board on the Spot

The Wall Street Journal
For years Edward Lampert has called the shots at Sears Holdings Corp. as its chief executive, largest shareholder and biggest lender. But his latest play to keep the struggling chain afloat is out of his hands.

The hedge-fund manager turned CEO said earlier this year that he would be interested in buying the Kenmore appliance business and other assets, after a two-year strategic review by the company failed to result in a deal for the units. Frustrated by the pace of deliberations, Mr. Lampert stepped in last week with a $400 million offer to buy Kenmore himself. . . . more

Flood of Toys ’R’ Us Space Comes on the Market; Who’s Going After the Empty Boxes?

As part of Toys ‘R’ Us’ bankruptcy process—in which it closed its more than 700 U.S. stores totaling millions of sq. ft.—the retailer is in the process of selling off its real estate to other big-box retailers, including Big Lots, Hobby Lobby and Ashley Furniture.

Toys ‘R’ Us is incrementally auctioning off stores that it owns across the country, as well as the leases it has for other stores. Most of the stores are freestanding or located in open-air shopping centers and average around 40,000 sq. ft. . . . more

E‑commerce accounts for an estimated 13.3% of US retail sales in the second quarter

Internet Retailer
U.S. online retailers generated $120.45 billion on the web in the first quarter, a 15.4% increase compared with $104.41 billion in Q2 2017, the Department of Commerce reported today.

This is a slightly lower growth rate than e-commerce for 2017 as a whole, when U.S. online sales rose 16.0% to reach $453.46 billion, compared with $390.99 billion in 2016. It’s also a slightly lower growth rate than the first quarter, when online sales from U.S. merchants grew 16.4%. . . . more

Friday, August 17, 2018

Nordstrom raises outlook as Q2 sales, earnings cruise past expectations

Nordstrom was firing on all cylinders in its second quarter, fueled by strong gains in digital sales and robust traffic at its off-price and regular-price stores. . . . more

Walmart soars with fastest sales growth in a decade, big online jump

Walmart showed its might in the second quarter, with earnings and sales that topped the Street amid surging digital sales and a jump in store sales.. . . more

Irvine Spectrum Center unveiling $200 million renovation

Irvine (Calif.) Spectrum Center officially unveils a $200 million renovation on Saturday that has seen the conversion of a former Macy’s space into 30 stores, entertainment concepts and restaurants. . . . more

Restoration Hardware founder’s latest venture is folding

NY Post
The entrepreneur who founded Restoration Hardware has lost his latest retail bet. Guideboat — an upscale clothing chain started by Stephen Gordon, the visionary who started Restoration Hardware in 1979, only to lose control of it in 2005 — is liquidating its stores after a five-year run, The Post has learned. . . . more

What apocalypse? New concepts are gobbling up vacant space
All the doom-and-gloom media chatter about the “retail apocalypse” nearly always fails to mention the hundreds of stores, restaurants and entertainment tenants that are queuing up to replace departing retailers. And it is not just value concepts that are pushing up new-store numbers in 2018. A broad, eclectic assortment of tenants continue seeking out strategic shopping center positions — and that includes apparel. . . . more

Planet Fitness reports a very healthy 2nd quarter

NH Business Review
Planet Fitness, which opened a new gym in Merrimack last month, plans to open three more in New Hampshire over the next year or so as part the company’s rapid expansion throughout the nation, the company’s CEO revealed in his earnings call last week. . . . more

Chili's Gets its Mojo Back

There was a lot at stake for Chili’s in fiscal 2017. CEO Wyman Roberts went as far as calling it “an important and pivotal year for our business,” during an August 14 conference call. The brand was carrying a streak of negative same-stores into the calendar, with a menu too broad, operations too complex, LTOs that hurt execution, and technology that failed to leverage Chili’s standing or core strengths.. . . more

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Marijuana-themed sandwich chain eyes Milwaukee for expansion

Milwaukee Business Journal
A marijuana-themed restaurant chain wants to expand its Wisconsin footprint with a new shop in the Milwaukee region. Cheba Hut, a Colorado-based business, serves a menu of toasted sandwiches in three sizes: the four-inch “nug,” the eight-inch “pinner” and the footlong “blunt. The restaurant also offers salads, a selection of side dishes and desserts on its “munchies” menu and drinks from a list of “cotton mouth cures.” The food does not contain marijuana. . . . more

Retail sales jump again in July

Retail sales increased 0.4% seasonally adjusted over June, and 4.9% unadjusted year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation. The NRF numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.. . . more

Aldi is going granola to compete with Whole Foods

Aldi is synonymous with low-cost food staples, canned goods and no frills shopping. But the German grocer is hoping a shift to trendy, natural foods will help it grow its market share in the United States. Last week, it announced the next phase of an aggressive growth initiative that will include a larger emphasis on natural foods. . . . more

For Struggling Restaurants, It's Buy or Die

Restaurant Business
Earlier this month, Real Mex Restaurants, the owner of El Torito, Chevys Fresh Mex and Acapulco, filed for its second bankruptcy in less than a decade and has a buyer willing to pay $47 million.

The Real Mex story is a classic story of a zombie restaurant chain: It was shrinking (less than half the size it was before the previous filing), had way too much debt (well over $200 million) and was unable to manage that debt in a period of weakening sales and higher costs. . . . more

Specialty apparel retailer opens Staten Island store

Lands’ End is giving shoppers in the Empire State a new location to do their back-to-school shopping. The specialty apparel retailer is opening a new store at the Staten Island Mall, New York, on Aug. 18. The new store gives the retailer to a total of 14 standalone locations in the United States. . . . more

Macy's shares tumble as department store struggles to grow sales

Macy's shares tumbled Wednesday even after the department store operator reported quarterly earnings and sales that topped analysts' expectations and hiked its forecast for the full year. . . . more

Future bright for malls, physical retail, says report

Quality malls and brick-and-mortar retail can expect robust growth in the coming decade, according to a report by fund manager QIC, which cautions against exaggerating the threat from e-commerce and other challenges. . . . more

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Tiffany to completely revamp Manhattan flagship

Tiffany & Co. will begin a massive renovation of its Manhattan flagship, starting this spring. The 10-story architectural icon, which is owned by the retailer, is located on 5th Avenue at 57th Street. . . . more

Outfitting house and home

An 18-month test initiated by Bealls Inc. has ended successfully with the creation of a chain called Home Centric, the first of which opened this May in Cary, N.C. Bealls operates over 530 stores across 16 states as well as online. Aware of strong and growing sales within its home furniture/decor departments and the fact that “there weren’t a lot of choices out there for off-price home products,” the company decided to expand the home department into a store within a store, says Karen Filips, director of communications and community affairs for Bealls Inc.. . . more

Noon Mediterranean Files for Bankruptcy

Restaurant Business
Noon Mediterranean, the fast-casual chain formerly known as Verts Mediterranean Grill, has filed for bankruptcy protection. . . . more

Famous Dave's Cooks Up Another BBQ Concept

FSR Magazine
Famous Dave’s has been a blend of innovation and legacy over the course of its turnaround stretch. The barbecue brand’s second-quarter report reflected that strategy and promised more changes, including a fresh concept from its new barbecue star, Travis Clark. . . . more

For growth, follow privately funded college housing

America’s major universities and colleges increasingly look to private real estate developers to provide student housing, and that’s good news for retailers looking to expand, says an investment expert involved in the trend . . . more

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Million-dollar NH mall makeovers: Rapidly evolving to connect with today's consumer

Union Leader
The Maple Tree Mall in Manchester's North End recently finished a $1 million facelift - including a new facade, sign and revamped parking lot.

"It brought it from the 1980s to 2018," said Emily Martel, marketing manager for Milne Travel, a tenant there.

About a 20-minute drive away, a Massachusetts developer stripped a former Shaw's plaza in Merrimack down to its structural steel, spending more than $6 million to transform it . . . more

Dunkin' Sprints Into the Future

It seemed like an April Fools’ joke. Only it wasn’t—just a headline-grabbing jolt of marketing genius. In the lead-up to April’s Boston Marathon, one of the globe’s most treasured sporting events, Dunkin’ Donuts teamed with running footwear and apparel company Saucony to release a limited-edition Dunkin’ Donuts–branded running shoe. . . . more

Just Cabinets closing stores

Central Penn Business Journal
A midstate home furniture chain appears to be closing its remaining stores. Just Cabinets Furniture & More, a Dauphin County-based chain with 11 stores, including four in Central Pennsylvania, is in the process of liquidating stores. Merchandise is currently being sold at up to 75 percent off, according to the company's website . . . more

Sleeping and high-tech? Minnesota mattress company mixes it up in Manhattan

New York Business Journal
A Minnesota mattress maker is mixing high technology with sleeping in New York by opening a souped-up mattress store in Manhattan this week. Sleep Number Corp. (Nasdaq: SNBR) said it's continuing its New York expansion by opening a new location in a historic building at 136 Fifth Ave.. . . more

Big-Box Retailers Come Up with Small Concepts to Grow in a Changed Landscape

National Real Estate Investor
The old adage that “everything’s bigger in Texas” gets thrown around a lot. However, that’s not necessarily the case for Walmart as it's testing a small-format store concept in the Dallas-Fort Worth market. . . . more

McDonald’s to undertake nearly $3 billion store remodeling initiative

McDonald’s Corp. is embarking on an ambitious — and costly — store remodeling program to transform the customer experience inside and outside its restaurants across the country. . . . more

Monday, August 13, 2018

Party City to team up with Amazon

Chain Store Age
Party City has joined the growing list of retail companies that are making deals with Amazon. Amid strong second quarter results, the party supplies retailer and wholesaler announced it is launching a pilot program to sell product on The pilot will launch in advance of Party City’s biggest selling season—Halloween—and will initially offer a curated assortment focused largely on the costume category. Party City plans to expand the assortment later this year to include products for Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. Further expansion is possible in 2019. . . more

Pet Pampering Surges as Milennials Practice Parenting

Brett Gursky flies first-class. And so does his dog Buddy, a Maltese-Chihuahua mix that he rescued two years ago. When Gursky, a writer-director-producer based in Los Angeles, goes to the Beverly Hills Hotel for meetings, Buddy comes along. And Buddy, who has 3,200 Instagram followers and receives monthly treat boxes from a site called PupBox, is a regular at the Chateau Marmutt—no relation to the iconic Hollywood hotspot Chateau Marmont—where he's pampered with baths, clippings and brushings costing as much as $40 a day. . . more

Retail sales in 2018 could climb higher than forecast, the National Retail Federation says

Spending at retailers — excluding automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants — is now predicted to climb at least 4.5 percent, The National Retail Federation says in its updated outlook for 2018. That compares with a prior forecast range of 3.8 to 4.4 percent. . . more

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Hummus & Pita Co kicking off national expansion with Connecticut opening

Fast Casual
The Hummus & Pita Co will mark the official start of its national expansion Saturday with the opening of its first franchised store in Brookfield, Connecticut. The brand's newest outpost, located at 15 Federal Rd., is part of a multi-unit, statewide franchise deal inked earlier this year, according to a company press release. . . . more

Cold Stone Creamery Celebrates 30th Anniversary With Opening Of 30 Stores In 2018

Restaurant News Resource
Cold Stone Creamery continues their 30th Anniversary celebration with continued growth of the brand. In 1988, Cold Stone Creamery opened its first location in Tempe, Arizona, and will be rolling out 30 new stores domestically and internationally this year. . . . more

Aldi’s aggressive growth on track

With more than 1,800 stores across the country, Aldi is in the midst of an accelerated growth plan, investing more than $5 billion to remodel and expand its store count to 2,500 by the end of 2022. The company said it is more than halfway through its remodel investment. . . . more

Party City to team up with Amazon

Amid strong second quarter results, the party supplies retailer and wholesaler announced it is launching a pilot program to sell product on The pilot will launch in advance of Party City’s biggest selling season—Halloween—and will initially offer a curated assortment focused largely on the costume category . . . more

Winning the Hearts–and Loyalty–of Younger Consumers

Alliance Data’s 2018 “Rules of NextGen Loyalty” study validates an emerging trend happening with today’s younger consumers: Not only are they financially conscious, they’re also heavily influenced by cost when it comes to purchasing decisions. These new findings build on our 2017 study, “The Generational Perspective,” which looked at all generations, and found that Millennials, as compared to Gen X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation, were most likely to prioritize their budgets when making purchasing decisions. Initially, we thought this was due to life stage, but our recent study proved there is a bigger underlying cause and effect that is shifting how younger consumers shop. . . . more

Analysis: Rite Aid faces ‘questionable future’ after scrapped merger

The proposed merger by Albertsons and Rite Aid [which was called off on Wednesday evening] was always one based on an overly optimistic view that combining the two businesses would generate incremental revenue and profit.. . . more

Boston Public Market Expands to Logan Airport

The time before or between flights can be hectic and stressful or boring and everlasting. Either way, fueling up is essential and The Boston Public Market is on it. The indoor market is expanding to Logan Airport, its second location will be in Terminal C, and is expected to open in spring 2019.. . . more

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Retail collapse: The 57 biggest chains closing stores
It's been a merciless few years when it comes to retail store closings.

As shoppers move online and mall traffic declines, more and more brands are filing for bankruptcy, downsizing or closing retail operations altogether.

Is your favorite retailer closing shop? . . . more

5 trends reshaping retail

Retail Dive
Like many industries today, retail is in an extreme state of disruption. In five years, 25% of malls will be gone. The U.S. has way too much retail space per capita at 23.5 square feet, compared to 16.4 in Canada and 11.1 in Australia. And retail giants Macy's and J.C. Penney have shed over 100,000 jobs since October 2016.

While these figures may seem a bit ominous, innovation sparks opportunity. Digital transformation is driving a new breed of retail that will take consumers where they’ve never been before. . . . more

Jewelry chain files Chapter 11—again

Chain Store Age
A Texas-based jewelry retailer has filed for bankruptcy protection amid a legal probe of its Indian-based parent company.

Samuels Jewelers said that its approximately 122 stores and its e-commerce site will remain open for business as the company seeks to restructure its finances while continuing normal business operations. The retailer, which listed liabilities between $100 million and $500 in its Chapter 11 filing, said it expects the restructuring process will enable it to significantly reduce its outstanding debt.. . . more

Aldi is overhauling its stores to win the grocery wars — and it's coming straight for Walmart and Kroger

Business Insider
Aldi is making big changes to its stores.

The discount grocer is embarking on the biggest product refresh in its history by bringing more fresh, organic, vegetarian, and vegan items to its 1,800 stores across the US.

The changes will be hard to miss; once the product rollout is complete in early 2019, about 20% of the items in Aldi's stores will be new.. . . more

Big-Box Retailers Come Up with Small Concepts to Grow in a Changed Landscape

The old adage that “everything’s bigger in Texas” gets thrown around a lot. However, that’s not necessarily the case for Walmart as it's testing a small-format store concept in the Dallas-Fort Worth market.

The big-box retailer is building 3,000-sq.-ft. convenience stores with fuel pumps—called Walmart Fuel Station—in some parking lots of existing 180,000-sq.-ft. Walmart Supercenters that don’t already have gas pumps. . . . more

Rite Aid, Albertsons call off merger deal ahead of vote

Boston Herald
Rite Aid and the grocer Albertsons called off an agreement to become a single company with the deal facing shaky prospects in a shareholder vote.

Rite Aid Chairman and CEO John Standley said in a prepared statement late Wednesday that after hearing the views of shareholders, the drugstore chain is "committed to moving forward and executing our strategic plan as a (stand-alone) company.". . . more

Amazon Prime Day 2018 analysis in 5 charts

Internet Retailer
The fourth-annual Amazon Prime Day is in the books and it is Inc.’s biggest sales event ever.

Amazon doesn’t disclose sales figures on Prime Day, but Internet Retailer estimates sales hit $4.19 billion globally this year during the 36-hour sale July 16-17, up nearly 74% from $2.41 billion during last year’s Prime Day (a 30-hour sales event July 11-12, 2017). Comparatively, in 2017 Amazon grew its overall Prime Day sales by 60% over the 24-hour Prime Day 2016 sales event.. . . more

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Shopping mall owners fill empty stores with offices as coworking companies branch out

Across America, stores once occupied by now-bankrupt retailers like Toys R Us and Bon-Ton are being converted into shared office space.

Coworking space is predicted to grow at retail properties by a rate of 25 percent annually through 2023, according to a new report from Jones Lang LaSalle.. . . more

Off-price craze driving foot traffic to Marshalls, Macy's

Retail Dive
Consumers shopped more in stores in the second quarter this year compared to the first, favoring home improvement big box stores and mall stores, according to a report from location-based advertising platform GroundTruth emailed to Retail Dive. May saw the largest increase with a 1.1% gain in foot traffic, correlating with the highest monthly retail sales growth in over eight months.

Within fashion, off-price retailers performed well, along with Marshalls, Old Navy, Gap Body, Coach and Macy's, which saw the largest increase of foot traffic. Saks Off Fifth and Macy's Backstage also saw a 0.5% uptick, while mid-tier apparel and accessory brands lost some ground, according to the report. . . . more

Natural Grocers working toward a footprint of 1,100 stores

Retail Leader
Natural Grocers is leveraging dietary education and store experience into sustained sales and earnings growth on its way to 1,100 stores.

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage Inc. reported an impressive third quarter, with a 9.5 percent net sales increase to $213.1 million, a 5.2 boost in same store sales, and a 233 percent net income surge to $2 million with diluted earnings per share of 9 cents.

During an earnings call presentation, Natural Grocers says it is working toward a footprint of 1,100 stores across the United States. It currently has 147 stores in 19 states.. . . more

Denny's Shifts Course as Value Wars Heat Up

FSR Magazine
Since 2009, Denny’s has opened more than 500 restaurants, which represents about 30 percent of its entire system and is one of the more impressive growth charts in casual dining. Following its second-quarter review July 30, the brand revised its outlook for fiscal 2018 for total operating revenue to $626–$634 million from $634–$642 million. A slowdown in net restaurant growth being the main culprit.

Denny’s said it now expects to open 35–45 restaurants this year, down from the 40–50 it forecasted earlier. And overall, Denny’s predicts to end 2018 with five–10 fewer units than it had to start the calendar.. . . more

Casper, a Web Pioneer, to Open 200 Stores

The Wall Street Journal
Online mattress seller Casper Sleep Inc. plans to open 200 of its own stores in the next three years, expanding across North America to stave off competition from dozens of internet copycats.

Casper, which launched in 2014, opened its first permanent retail shop in New York City earlier this year. The 200 stores will include 18 existing temporary locations that Casper is transitioning to permanent shops. The brand also distributes some products throughTarget Corp. , Nordstrom Inc. and Inc.. . . more

CVS to offer nationwide telemedicine service through smartphone video

USA Today
Drug store giant CVS Health plans to offer a nationwide service to treat easy-to-diagnose maladies and other medical issues via its smartphone app.

The telemedicine service will be offered for diagnosis of conditions like colds and flu, skin issues and general wellness matters.

The video visit service, which will be provided on smartphones, will cost $59 and can be paid by credit card or debit card. . . . more

What consumers consider the most ethical company

Boston Business Journal
Walmart tops the list of corporations that American consumers think are most ethical, according to a new poll by market research company Morning Consult, which also found that people would prefer that companies stay out of politics.

The top 10 companies on the list are all large retailers, restaurants or tech companies.. . . more

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Women’s apparel retailer extends credit agreement

Chain Store Age
Christopher & Banks Corp. is getting a reprieve on its credit facility.

The women’s apparel retailer entered into an agreement to extend its current senior secured revolving credit facility of up to $50 million. The deal also includes an additional $5 million through a first in, last out (FILO) loan, which is as an advance on unsold merchandise. . . . more

Rite Aid updates full-year outlook

Chain Store Age
Rite Aid revised the outlook it issued in April based on a more stable reimbursement rate environment, fees under the Walgreens Boots Alliance transition services agreement, generic drug purchasing and other factors. However, the new figures don’t include the expected impact of its proposed merger with the privately-held grocer, Albertsons.

Rite Aid said it expects its generics purchasing efficiencies to come in $80 million less than expected in April, which has an effect on its adjusted EBITDA, net loss and adjusted net loss per diluted share estimates. It now expects adjusted EBITDA to stand between $540 million and $590 million, down from the range of $625 million to $675 million it had expected earlier this year.. . . more

National Stores Files for Bankruptcy Protection

The Wall Street Journal
Discount retailer National Stores Inc., which operates under the Fallas brand and others, filed for chapter 11 protection Monday with plans to close 74 of its 344 stores.

The retailer is working with its vendors, lenders and other creditors on a reorganization plan that it hopes will allow it to survive bankruptcy, according to a news release.. . . more

Mattress Firm explores U.S. bankruptcy to close stores

Mattress Firm Inc, the largest U.S. mattress retailer, is considering a potential bankruptcy filing as it seeks ways to get out of costly store leases and shut some of its 3,000 locations that are losing money, people familiar with the matter said.

Mattress Firm’s deliberations offer the latest example of a U.S. brick-and-mortar retailer struggling financially amid competition from e-commerce firms such as Inc . . . more

In a U.S. Mall Owner’s World, ‘Boring’ Is Actually Pretty Good

Mall landlords, besieged for the past two years by the rise of online shopping, are trying to push a new narrative of improving sales and increased demand for empty space at their properties.

Second-quarter earnings results for the biggest owners were largely in line with expectations, according to DJ Busch, an analyst at Green Street Advisors LLC, a research firm that specializes in real estate investment trusts. And that’s good news for an industry that’s struggling to stay relevant. . . . more

The Mall is Dead. Long Live Bricks-and-Mortar?

Recently, GGP shareholders approved the Brookfield Property merger deal by a wide margin. Sure they did. The value was reported to be in the range of a 6 percent cap rate, a number that any self-respecting, not fee-driven real estate owner would consider aggressive.

Yes, I have heard the commentary. The cap rate was on the low side because the properties are Class-a, located in great locations and therefore protected from the “retail apocalypse” (if that’s still a thing). Also, GGP has begun to convert many of these malls into more experiential facilities, which serves as proof positive that they will overperform in the new age of retail. Now that I mention it, what in fact is the new age of retail? Have retail tenants even settled on a proven new-age prototype around which we can build new-age properties?. . . more

Target hiring employees for new Porter Square store

Boston Business Journal
Target Corp. is currently on the hunt for 40 employees to work at its newest small-format store in Cambridge’s Porter Square, set to open this fall.

Target is planning to open the store at 822 Somerville Ave., along with another small-format store in Burlington, on Oct. 21. They will mark the company's sixth and seventh small-format locations in the Boston area. The Minneapolis-based retail giant plans to open 130 such stores nationwide by next year. . . . more

Monday, August 6, 2018

Hanover Mall redevelopment forum scheduled Thursday night

The Patriot Ledger
A public forum on plans to convert Hanover Mall from an enclosed mall to an open-air shopping center similar to Hingham’s Derby Street Shoppes and The Launch will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 9 at the former JC Penny at the mall.

The forum will include discussion of how the new shopping center, Hanover Crossing, will affect schools, water, traffic and a new wastewater plant that could go near the mall.. . . more

A tale of retail: The shopping mall

The Sun Chronicle
Victor Gruen went to his grave cursing the structures for which he became famous — the enclosed shopping center, better known as “the mall.”

The renowned architect came to America in 1938 after fleeing the Nazis who took over his native Austria.

But four decades later and much to his distress, his architectural brainstorm had reshaped the retail landscape in a way he never intended, and he regretted it until the day he died.. . . more

Algorithms feeding unsustainable price cuts online

Retail Dive
While consumers and sellers alike may think that Amazon itself is driving price competition, it's now often third-party marketplace sellers, on Amazon and Walmart, that initiate price-based skirmishes, according to the report. Dynamic pricing algorithms have enabled retailers to detect every online price change, including temporary promotions, and that's, "leading to race-to-the-bottom behavior and permanent drops in Average Selling Price," Profitero said.

Consumers are benefiting and abetting the practice. Aided by their smartphones, 54% now habitually suss out prices, even shopping in store. And, while not as speedy as machines, they're now conditioned to not only search out the best online price, but also to wait for price drops, Profitero said.. . . more

Walmart pilots ‘first-of-its-kind’ robotics system

Chain Store Age
Walmart is adding a new member to its online grocery fulfillment team — but it’s not an associate.

Walmart is set to launch a pilot, in collaboration with start-up Alert Innovation, that uses “first-of-its-kind” automated technology to help associates fill online grocery orders faster than ever before. The system, called “Alphabot,” — developed specifically for the chain — will automatically bring items from storage to associates who will consolidate the items in the order.. . . more

Jamba Juice acquired by fast-casual giant

Chain Store Age
Focus Brands Inc. has added another brand to its expanding portfolio.

Focus Brands Inc. announced it will acquire Jamba (whose wholly-owned subsidiary is Jamba Juice Company) for $13.00 per share in cash, in a transaction valued at approximately $200 million. The deal is expected to close during the third quarter of 2018.. . . more

Retail jobs up in July

Chain Store Age
Retail industry employment in July increased by 66,000 jobs unadjusted over the same time last year showing on-going industry growth, the National Retail Federation said today. Retail industry unemployment dipped from 4.5% to 4.4%. (The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.)

July saw monthly gains in general merchandise stores, which were up by 14,000 jobs, clothing and accessories stores up 10,000 jobs, and food and beverage stores up 8,000 jobs. Offsetting the gains, employment decreased by 32,000 jobs in sporting, hobby, book, and music stores.. . . more

From Amazon to Alibaba, Grocers' Agony Is Endless

Want to know what Inc. will be doing in physical retail tomorrow? Look at what is happening in China today.

If you’d taken this advice, you wouldn’t have been surprised when the behemoth spent $13.7 billion last year buying Whole Foods. Eighteen months earlier Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. had launched Hema, a technologically advanced blend of online grocery shopping, dining and bricks and mortar.. . . more

Friday, August 3, 2018

Sally Beauty closing stores, launching click and collect

Retail Leader
Sally Beauty plans to close as many as 100 stores and launch click and collect as part of its long-term transformation strategy.

The beauty retailer made the announcement as part of its fiscal third quarter report, which was less than impressive. Same store sales for the period ended June 30 decreased 2% in the quarter. Net sales were $996.3 million, a decrease of 0.2% compared to the prior year. . . . more

Amazon forms U.S. Postal Service lobby group

Chain Store Age
Amazon has formed a group that will lobby to keep U.S. Postal Service delivery services “reliable and affordable.” And it’s not alone.

Amazon, QVC, Columbia Sportswear, Express Scripts, and the National Retail Federation among others have formed “The Package Coalition,” a group that is lobbying to keep the U.S. Postal Service’s package delivery services “reliable and affordable,” according to Reuters. The group was created to educate elected officials and others about why proposed rate hikes to the Postal Service could hurt corporations, small businesses and consumers across the United States, according to the report.. . . more

Online no-brand retail upstart secures new funding to fuel growth

Chain Store Age
An online retailer that sells no-name home staples — mostly at $3 a pop — is resonating with consumers and investors.

Brandless announced it has raised $240 million in Series C funding, led by the SoftBank Vision Fund.

Launched in July 2017, Brandless makes and sells a curated assortment of “no-brand” everyday essentials — from organic, non-GMO food and clean beauty and personal care products to non-toxic cleaners and home goods. Most items are priced at $3. . . . more