Thursday, December 20, 2018

Gymboree reportedly preps for Ch. 22

Retail Dive
Gymboree is on the hunt for a bankruptcy loan in preparation for its second Chapter 11 in a year and a half, which could come as soon as January, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal citing people familiar with the situation. Gymboree did not immediately respond to Retail Dive's request for comment.

While a Reuters report from November claimed that the children's retailer could be considering the closure of half its stores, sources told the Wall Street Journal that the retailer is looking to close the majority of its 900 stores, with the exception of a little over 100 well-performing locations mainly of the Janie & Jack branch, which it hopes to sell.. . . more

Toy superstore to become a golf superstore

Gloucester Times
PGA Tour Superstore plans to open an "experiential" golf superstore in February in the former location of the Toys R Us at the Northshore Mall.

In addition to golf supplies, the store will also offer lessons, repairs, an expansive putting green and practice bays and simulators that will allow you to play Pebble Beach indoors when there's 10 inches of snow on the ground outside. . . . more

Big Chain Stores Are Fleeing Manhattan, Study Finds

Patch (NYC)
With Marshall's opening next to Katz's Deli and Target dressing up like CBGB, some New Yorkers may feel like big retailers are taking over Manhattan. But the borough was actually the only one where the number of chain stores dropped this year, fueling the first citywide decline in more than a decade, a newly released study says.

The Center for an Urban Future counted 2,904 national retail locations in Manhattan this year, 2.3 percent fewer than the 2,971 recorded in 2017, according to the center's 11th annual "State of the Chains" report released Wednesday. . . . more

Retail Landlords Turn to Mom-and-Pop Shops to Fill Credit Tenant Void

NREI
The end of the traditional big-box era is creating a new landscape where mom-and-pop retailers are the new credit tenants for mall and strip center landlords who have to reinvent the large spaces vacated by Sears, Toys R Us and others like them. When looking deeper at the macro-economic drivers impacting the sector—the high-profile big-box bankruptcies, proliferation of e-commerce and increasing emphasis on “experiential retail”—the next generation of retail is one of opportunity, not an apocalypse as many have suggested.

With so much focus on the closure of big-box stores like Sears and Toys R Us, the opportunity for landlords to recapture these spaces and repurpose them to higher and better uses has been largely overlooked. . . . more

The Retail Net Lease Sector Begins to Show Slights Signs of Wear

NREI
The average cap rate for single-tenant net lease assets in the retail sector increased by 5 basis points to 6.25 percent, according to the Third Quarter 2018 Net Lease Report from the Boulder Group, a national commercial real estate firm that focuses on the net lease sector.

However, that’s the third consecutive quarter of cap rate increases for the sector. In the second quarter, cap rates finally pushed upward to 6.2 percent—the biggest increase in seven years.. . . more

Rite Aid loss narrows as it chases rivals

Retail Dive
Rite Aid on Wednesday reported that third quarter revenues from continuing operations rose to $5.5 billion from $5.4 billion in the prior year's quarter. Same-store sales from retail pharmacy continuing operations in the quarter rose 1.6% year over year, including a 1.5% decline in front-end sales, according to a company press release.

Net loss from continuing operations in the quarter narrowed to $17.3 million from $18.2 million a year ago, the company said. Adjusted net income from continuing operations rose to $14.7 million from last year's third quarter adjusted net income in that metric of $8.5 million, thanks to expense reductions.. . . more

Pier 1 CEO out amid ongoing loss

Retail Dive
Pier 1 on Wednesday said that CEO Alasdair James has stepped down and that board member Cheryl Bachelder replaces him in the interim. The company has also retained Credit Suisse to help evaluate "a full range of strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value," according to a company press release.


In another release, the retailer reported that third quarter net sales fell 11.9% year over year to $413.2 million as store comps tumbled 10.5%, even with a benefit of about 600 basis points thanks to a shift of certain holiday selling days into the calendar.. . . more

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

12 news stories that shaped retail in 2018

Retail Dive
Retailers are looking forward to the trends and technologies that the new year will bring, but it's also important to reflect on some of the most impactful events of 2018. Retail Dive put together a calendar of the most important news stories from each month this year.

Toys R Us foreshadowed a tumultuous — and ultimately fatal — year with an announcement in January to hire a liquidator and shutter at least 180 stores in bankruptcy. At the time, the toy retailer, who filed for bankruptcy in September 2017, held optimistic plans to open new Babies R Us concepts and reengineer its loyalty and CRM program to improve the customer experience. Needless to say, the plans weren't enough to save Toys R Us.. . . more

8 outrageous retail predictions that could actually happen in 2019

Yahoo Finance
It’s no small wonder investors have chosen to overlook a banner 2018 for many retailers and focus on growing fears of a U.S. recession — and subsequent impact on U.S. consumers — in 2019.

Bad news just sells, right?

That focus on the negative is unfortunate as 2018 will go down as the year where the likes of Walmart and Target proved they can beat Amazon. More retailers showed vastly improved mobile shopping experiences and big sales gains on smartphones as a result (see booming Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales figures). Shipping products from stores to satisfy online orders is as pervasive as ever before. Retail inventory is nicely controlled, meaning sweeping markdowns are not the norm right now. . . . more

Municipalities hear voice of retail pot sales experience

Salem News
Communities that have embraced recreational marijuana sales are plodding ahead with plans to open more retail pot shops, but local officials say challenges remain.

"We've had long lines and lots of traffic, but I can say there really haven't been any negative impacts," said Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, one of several local officials who participated in a day-long forum on recreational marijuana at the John Adams Courthouse in Boston. "As a community, we have embraced this new industry and we've had a lot of interest from folks around the country who are interested in retail cultivation and manufacturing.". . . more

In-store shopping emotionally satisfying

Chain Store Age
Consumers are more likely to feel satisfied with their purchases when shopping in-store than with pure-play e-commerce retailers.

That’s according to a study by DXC Technology (and published in an IDC InfoBrief) which found that more than 60% of respondents are confident with their purchases when they make them in-store and strongly appreciate the ability to return products conveniently and hassle-free to retail locations. Fifty-four percent rate their overall in-store shopping experiences as emotionally satisfying. . . . more

Nike gave us a glimpse into the store of the future this year

Business Insider
Technology is invading the in-store experience.

It's not just about hyper-futuristic stores with sensors like Amazon Go, either. Nike is winning the race to create the store of the future by debuting many new features into the Nike app instead of stacking the physical space with expensive technology.

The Nike app can now let you unlock free stuff in stores, help you try on shoes without having to talk to anybody, and even allow you to instantly purchase something in-store and walk right out with it.. . . more

Amazon’s year on the Go: Ninth store opens as customers and company embrace walk-out tech

GeekWire
Amazon has been making a Go of its cashier-less convenience stores for nearly a year, since opening its first location to the public in Seattle on Jan. 22. Tuesday the tech giant opens its ninth Amazon Go store, and second in San Francisco, and the official company line is that customers love the experience and the company loves its technology.

The opening of the new store, at 1,750 square feet, comes just a week after Amazon unveiled another location in Seattle that was much more compact, at just 450 square feet.. . . more

Optimism Fuels Late-Cycle CRE Investing Strategies

NREI
Investors that have been cautious of the downside risk in retail are now looking at some late-cycle acquisitions. There are opportunities in retail where prices have over-corrected to the downside. Investors see an opportunity to get in at a lower basis and be able to reinvest to reposition or re-tenant the asset or add value, notes Steve Pumper, an executive managing partner in Transwestern's capital markets and asset strategies group.


“You need to proceed with caution, but I think there are opportunities within the retail sector,” he says.. . . more

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Drugstores, supermarkets and specialty set to grow in 2019

Retail Dive
The U.S. retail industry next year is poised for continued growth in sales (4.5% to 5.5%) and operating profits (5% to 6%), thanks to a strong economy plus retailers' investments in e-commerce and the shopping experience in their stores, according to a report from Moody's Investors Service emailed to Retail Dive.

Six of 13 retail sectors studied by Moody's analysts will outperform the broader industry. Drugstores, specialty retailers and supermarkets will see performance improve; Amazon U.S. (not including its cloud services) "will continue to grow;" and home improvement, off-price and dollar stores "will continue to perform well," according to the report. Even department store "losses will begin to taper," Moody's said.. . . more

JLL: Big chunk of holiday spending still up for grabs

Chain Store Age
Consumers still have a lot of holiday shopping left to do — and that bodes well for brick-and-mortar stores.

According to JLL Research findings, 29.5% of consumers still have half of their holiday shopping left to do this holiday season. Out of all the generations surveyed, millennials were the ones with the largest number of respondents who indicated they still had half their shopping left. . . . more

Rent-A-Center calls it off

Chain Store Age
Rent-A-Center isn’t going private after all.

The company on Tuesday announced it has terminated a deal to be acquired by affiliates of Vintage Capital Management after the private equity firm didn’t extend the deal’s deadline. The agreement had allowed Rent-A-Center and Vintage Capital to extend the end date of the plan of the merger to March 17. Rent-A-Center also opted not to extend the end date. . . . more

Toy sales booming on Amazon

Chain Store Age
Amazon is doing big business in toys — especially in games.

Sales in the group hit an estimated $510 million in the third quarter, up 30% from the year-ago period, according to a report by Edge by Ascential. The research revealed that outdoor play, toys for adults (games) and automotive toy trends will carry Amazon into the new year as one of the biggest toy sellers in America. . . . more

Total Return Growth for All Commercial Property Types Will Slow to 5.7 Percent in 2019, PREA Survey Forecasts

NREI
The results of the latest consensus forecast survey from the Pension Real Estate Association (PREA) show that respondents expect total unlevered return growth on commercial real estate assets traded at the institutional level to moderate in 2019. Respondents expect that total returns on all commercial property types, as represented by the NCREIF Property Index (NPI), will average 5.7 percent next year vs. 7.1 percent in 2018 and will decline to 4.4 percent in 2020.

Retail properties, on the other hand, will likely experience slightly higher returns in 2019, at 4.3 percent, indicating a 10-basis-point increase from 2018, in survey respondents’ estimate. . . . more

Here’s Where Costco Is Opening in 2019

Winsight Grocery Business
Costco this week said a new unit would open in Coral Springs, Fla., in February but has not publicly identified future U.S. sites beyond that. The company typically does not identify opening dates until about two months before they open.

Data from Planned Grocery, a site tracking retail developments from Beitz and Daigh Geographics, indicates the company could open as many as 10 more sites in 2019.

The site lists another 19 U.S. cities where Costco stores are proposed or planned, with estimated openings through 2022 including Branford and Clinton, Conn. and Cranston, R.I.. . . more

Developer proposes converting part of CambridgeSide mall to office space

Boston Business Journal
New England Development is proposing to convert a portion of the third floor of the CambridgeSide Galleria Mall in Cambridge from retail to office space, another example of landlords taking creative steps to open up leasable space in a tight market.

The proposal to convert 140,000 square feet of retail into office space follows New England Development’s $30 million investment last year to revitalize the 1.2 million-square-foot mall, which opened in 1990 at 100 Cambridgeside Place. At the time of its opening, the mall was one of the first urban enclosed shopping centers in the U.S. . . . more

Monday, December 17, 2018

Lowe's refocuses in wake of missteps

Retail Dive
In a presentation to investors on Wednesday, newly arrived Lowe's CEO Marvin Ellison, a veteran of the retailer’s main rival, The Home Depot, said that Lowe’s had lost its way but has identified areas to improve and on which to base strong growth.

Ellison said the retailer will make retail fundamentals a priority in the wake of missteps — including a website outage during peak Black Friday shopping — but will continue with its technology efforts. As part of the investor day, Lowe’s also unveiled a focus on its pro customers and a new marketing approach aimed at a wider audience which includes a new slogan, "Do it right for less. Start with Lowe’s.". . . more

Costco Q1 earnings beats Street; first location in China under construction

Chain Store Age
Costco Wholesale Club’s earnings climbed more than 19% in the first quarter amid strong sales at home.

Costco said it earned $767 million in the quarter ended Nov.25, up from $640 million in the year-ago period.

Revenue rose 10.2% to $35.07 billion from $31.81 billion a year ago. billion. Total same store sales rose 8.8%. Same-store sales rose 11% in the U.S., 4% internationally and 2.4% in Canada.. . . more

More stores may hop to neighboring shopping malls amid surge of retail closings

nwi.com
Commercial real estate observers say it might become more common for stores to hop to nearby shopping centers because of the slew of retail closures in recent years, including huge national chains like Sports Authority and H.H. Gregg. Others, including Macy's and Lowe's, have scaled back and shrunk their footprints. That can give retailers options to move somewhere nearby and get a better deal on rent when their leases expire, and some landlords may try to poach their neighbors' tenants to fill vacant space.

"You're absolutely seeing more poaching nationally," CoStar Group Market Economist Brandon Svec said. . . . more

Genesco in deal to sell struggling Lids

Chain Store Age
Genesco Inc. has finally found a buyer for Lids.

The company has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its ailing Lids Sports Group for $100 million in cash to FanzzLids Holdings. The holding company is controlled and operated by affiliates of Ames Watson Capital, owner of licensed sports apparel retailer Fanzz. . . . more

Stop & Shop rolls out updated store design

Chain Store Age
New England’s largest supermarket operator has brought its updated design and smaller-store concept to its home state of Massachusetts.

Stop & Shop has opened a 20,950-sq.-ft. store at Newton Nexus, in Newton Highlands, Mass. It is the first location in the state to feature the brand’s new logo and refreshed store design. The update is part of a multi-year, chainwide initiative to improve Stop & Shop’s in-store experience with a focus on more fresh and healthy options and improved digital solutions. The grocer first launched the initiative at 21 remodeled stores in the Hartford, Conn. area.. . . more

November retail sales show ‘good start’ to holiday season

Chain Store Age
U.S. consumer spending showed momentum in November as shoppers began holiday shopping in earnest.

Retail sales in November rose 5% unadjusted year-over-year and 0.7% seasonally adjusted from October, reported the National Retail Federation. (The NRF numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.)

The NRF said the results, which reflect the first half of the holiday season, show that spending is on track to easily meet its forecast of a 4.3% to 4.8% increase in sales during November and December for a total between $717.45 billion and $720.89 billion. . . . more

Is This What Derails Amazon's Plans for 3,000 Cashless Stores?

Motley Fool
Amazon.com wants to open 3,000 cashierless Amazon Go stores by 2022, but the effort could be stymied if more states follow New Jersey's lead and require all retailers to accept cash.

Excluding transactions made online, by telephone, or via mail, as well as certain airport stores and parking facilities, a bill unanimously approved by a state senate committee would prohibit any brick-and-mortar store in the state from being cashless, with violations carrying hefty fines. It's this sort of Luddite thinking that could prevent Amazon from transforming the retail industry.. . . more

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Aerie comps soar 32%

Retail Dive
American Eagle Outfitters on Tuesday reported that total third quarter net revenue rose 5%, or $43 million, to about $1 billion from $960 million last year, with the calendar shift bringing down results by $40 million.

Overall store comps rose 8%. By brand in the quarter, American Eagle comps rose 5%, and Aerie's comps soared 32%, following a 19% increase last year, the 16th consecutive quarter of double-digit comp growth, according to a company press release.. . . more

Smaller Amazon Go store tested in Seattle as retailer eyes new venues

Seattle Times
Amazon continues its experiments with new physical retail formats and technologies, this time with a shrunken version of its no-checkout convenience stores.

The company on Wednesday opened a 450-square-foot Amazon Go store — about a quarter the size of existing Go stores — on the sixth floor of the Macy’s department-store building in downtown Seattle. . . . more

Unit growth boosts Dave & Buster’s revenues

Nation's Restaurant News
Growing unit count helped Dave & Buster’s Entertainment Inc. post record revenues in the third quarter despite negative same-store sales, the Dallas-based company said Tuesday.

The big-box food and entertainment brand is on track to open 15 new locations in its fiscal 2018, which ends Feb. 3. That increase will represent unit growth of 14 percent, the company said.

Same-store sales declined 1.3 percent in the third quarter ended Nov. 4.. . . more

Investors Still Pursuing Grocery-Anchored Shopping Centers but Deal Volume Slowed in 2018

NREI
High-quality, well-located grocery-anchored shopping centers continue to be a “darling” of investors and are still achieving strong pricing.

These high-performing centers, anchored by top-tier grocers, appeal to investors because they draw customers to the center for daily needs and have proved more internet-resilient than other retail sectors.. . . more

Transformation is tops for Lowe’s going forward

Chain Store Age
Technology improvements, merchandise excellence, a seamless, omnichannel experience, and a $10 billion stock repurchase plan are priorities as Lowe’s heads into the new year.

In the current fiscal year, total sales are expected to increase about 4%. Comp-store sales are expected to increase 2.5%. Lowe’s plans to add a total of eight new stores on the year. . . . more

A look inside Starbucks' newest Reserve Roastery in New York City

CNBC
Nestled in the meatpacking district between Chelsea Market and Google's New York offices is Starbucks' latest Roastery.

Set to open on Friday, the nearly 23,000-square-foot space is far from the typical Starbucks store. Bathed in warm light and teeming with copper features, the Roastery is a cozy haven for coffee fanatics looking to not only get their caffeine fix, but get an up close and personal experience with Starbucks' roasters, baristas and craft mixologists.. . . more

Tailored Brands’ Q3 sales miss Street, lowers outlook

Chain Store Age
Lower transactions at its Men’s Wearhouse brand took a toll on Tailored Brands’ third quarter sales.

The parent company of brands including Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank earned $13.9 million for the quarter ended Nov. 3, compared with $36.9 million for the same period a year ago. 

Retail net sales increased 0.6% primarily due to an increase in retail clothing sales, which drove positive 2.3% retail comparable sales. This was partially offset by a $7.3 million decrease in alteration and other services primarily resulting from the MW Cleaners divestiture. . . . more

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A look inside Macy's new retail strategy

Retail Dive
A new in-store strategy at Macy's is on prominent display at its Herald Square flagship in New York, where both The Market @ Macy's and b8ta concepts are placed just inside one of the entrances, at the intersection of 34th and 7th streets. Both installations came into being this year, the same year that Macy's acquired store concept Story, and invested in and partnered with b8ta.

The department store's most recent experiments sit alongside another shop-in-shop concept, a Samsung mini-store, and the three mark a departure from the usual in-store experience at Macy's. The move could be seen as a response to the perception that it has struggled to stand out from the pack in the past, resulting in shuttered stores and a turnaround that finally seems to be taking hold. . . . more

Brick-and-mortar store traffic up 14% this holiday season

Chain Store Age
Retailers in malls, shopping centers, and streets will see a 49% lift in foot traffic on Dec. 15, contributing to a 14% year-over-year increase in Christmas traffic, according to a report from Foursquare.

The study, which was sponsored by the British online marketplace OnBuy.com, found consumers most willing to drive long distances to sporting goods stores, an average of 11 miles.

Next came shopping centers at around 10 miles, clothing stores and boutiques (9.6), and department stores (9). . . . more

Your shuttered Sears store could soon be demolished. Here's why

CNBC
If a Sears store near you has already closed or is in the process of closing, it's likely the owner of that property will opt to demolish it rather than find someone to fill the space.

The bankrupt department store chain has already said it will shut 142 stores by year's end. And its future while it's in bankruptcy court proceedings is still uncertain, with a total liquidation being one potential outcome. That would mean more than 500 additional Sears and Kmart stores going dark.. . . more

Happy Socks in store milestone

Chain Store Age
Happy Socks continues to expand its U.S. brick-and-mortar footprint.

The Swedish socks brand has opened its 100th global store, in Manhattan’s Times Square. It is Happy Socks’ third New York City location.

The 345-sq.-ft. store is bright and colorful, and is designed to reflect the brand’s signature playful aesthetic. It follows on the heels of two recent openings, in Brooklyn, New York, and Venice, Calif.. . . more

Whenever possible, Americans want dinner at home

Supermarket News
U.S. consumers prefer to eat dinner at home and are seeking more ways to help them do so, a survey by online grocer Peapod finds.

Of more than 1,000 adults polled, 77% said they would rather eat a homemade meal than go out for dinner, and 43% aim to cook more in 2019, according to Peapod’s annual meal planning forecast, compiled by Engine.

The top reason consumers said they’d rather make dinner at home is cost savings, cited by 77% of respondents. Other reasons for preferring to cook at home included the desire to eat healthier (51%) and spend more quality time with family (41%), according to Peapod, a subsidiary of supermarket retailer Ahold Delhaize USA.. . . more

In acquiring Aetna, CVS embarks on another pivotal moment in its 55-year history

CNBC
CVS wants to be a health-care company. It's buying a health insurer to prove it.

Four years after adding "Health" to its name, CVS has become more than just a drugstore chain. Now, its vision is becoming clearer as CVS Health enters what may be the most pivotal moment in its 55-year history.. . . more

Comcast Opens Seven Interactive Xfinity Stores In New England In 2018

prnewswire.com
In 2018, Comcast opened seven interactive Xfinity Stores in New England, bringing the regional total to 29. The stores – located from Holyoke, MA to Manchester, NH -- are a key part of the company's multi-year strategy to transform the customer experience, and provide a welcoming, state-of-the-art environment for customers to learn to optimize their Xfinity products and services.

The new Xfinity Stores are conveniently located at popular shopping destinations and feature trained and knowledgeable sales consultants, flat screen TVs, interactive iPads and a dedicated seating area for demonstrations of Xfinity products and apps. . . . more

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Ascena Retail Group Q1 income, sales beat Street

Chain Store Age
The parent company of such brands as Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant and Dressbarn started its fiscal year on a high note, fueled by strong sales at Ann Taylor, Loft and Justice.

Ascena Retail Group reported net income of $6 million in the quarter ended, compared to net income of $7 million in the year-ago period. 

Net sales were a better-than-expected $1.592 billion compared to $1.590 billion. Total same-store sales rose 3%. By division, same-store sales rose 8% at premium fashion (Ann Taylor and Loft) and 12% at kids fashion (Justice). Same-store sales decreased 3% at value fashion (dressbarn and maurices) and 2% at plus fashion (Catherines and Lane Bryant). . . . more

What’s next for retail in Worcester?

Worcester Telegram
As we head into the holiday shopping season, what should be next for retail in the city? What does Worcester need and how should the city go about getting it? Where should it be located? Big-box outlets? Storefront retail? Local owners? Chains? And what should, for instance, be done Greendale Mall?

We asked our guest columnists to weigh in. . . . more

Francesca’s swings to Q1 loss; to evaluate store portfolio

Chain Store Age
Francesca’s Holdings Corp. posted a loss in its first-quarter as traffic to its stores slowed.

The women’s apparel and accessories retailer had a net loss of $16.2 million in the quarter ended Nov.3, compared to earnings of $0.2 million in the year-ago period. 

Sales fell 10% to $95.4 million, slightly ahead of estimates of $95.1 million. Same-store sales fell 14%.. . . more

McDonald's franchisees to Corporate: We're not going to take it

Ad Age
It's tough being a McDonald's franchisee these days. More than 1,000 are expected to voice their displeasure at a meeting in Dallas this week, the latest move in what could become a historic showdown between the fast-food juggernaut's corporate team and its 1,700 U.S. restaurant owners.

The costs of labor, goods and rent are all rising, while diners are showing up less frequently. At the same time, CEO Steve Easterbrook's three-year-old turnaround plan requires store owners to pony up hundreds of thousands of dollars for high-tech store remodels.. . . more

Without Toys R Us, one iconic, international toy chain could soon make its mark in the US

CNBC
Without Toys R Us, an $11 billion toy industry has been left with no clear market leader.

Companies like Target, Walmart, Amazon and Kohl's are trying this holiday season to sell more toys to kids and their parents, but the verdict is still out on which company will best fill the void that Toys R Us left behind. Seeing a huge opportunity, one iconic, British toy retailer Hamleys could soon make its first move into the U.S. with a flagship location in New York, and plans for a wider rollout of stores to follow.. . . more

Sears seeks offers on stores Lampert needs for turnaround

Chicago Tribune
Sears Holdings Corp. is shopping around its stores, looking to gauge what they're worth in the open market while it weighs Chairman Edward Lampert's $4.6 billion bid to buy the entire chain and keep it open.

The firm has hired real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle to market its portfolio of about 500 U.S. stores and so far has seen high interest in major markets, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Bids have come in from retailers and mall owners, and other parties are interested in potentially converting stores for non-retail use, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing the private plan.. . . more

Chase plans to open 18 local branches over next year

Boston Business Journal
JPMorgan Chase & Co. expects to open at least 18 retail branches in Greater Boston by the end of 2019, including in suburban towns like Belmont, Hingham and Lynnfield, according to the company.

The megabank announced in October that it would open 50 branches in the region over the next few years, its first in Greater Boston. Only six other banks currently have at least that many retail branches in the area.. . . more

Monday, December 10, 2018

How 'brick-and-mobile' is transforming in-store shopping

Retail Dive
Nearly two-thirds (71%) of shoppers now access their phone while in stores to read product reviews, compare prices, navigate aisles, check out, pay or look for gift inspiration ahead of the holidays. That number is up 15% from 2017, and increasingly, retailers are answering consumers' rapidly changing expectations through the mini computers in nearly everyone's pocket.

Over the past few years, retailers have used mobile to add life to their brand while reimagining their store spaces to match customer desires for "brick-and-mobile" experiences, Shannon Andrick, VP of marketing advancement at Alliance Data's card services business, told Mobile Marketer in an interview.. . . more

Eddie Lampert's Sears Bid Comes With a Key Demand: Legal Shelter

NREI
Eddie Lampert’s $4.6 billion bid to salvage what’s left of bankrupt Sears Holdings Corp. was pitched by the hedge fund manager as a way to preserve tens of thousands of jobs. To some others in the industry, it’s also seen as a way to sweep a decade of potential problems under the rug.

The bid, if successful, would come with an important condition: a full release from liability over controversial deals his fund made before the 125-year-old retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. . . . more

Mall Landlord CBL Is `Always for Sale,’ Chief Executive Says

NREI
CBL & Associates Properties Inc., an owner of lower-end malls in the suburban U.S., is always open to prospective buyers.

“We’re a public company, so we’re always for sale, so to speak,’’ Chief Executive Officer Stephen Lebovitz said in an interview at an industry conference Wednesday. “Anyone who’s contacted us -- we’ve always talked to them, but we’re not actively looking to sell the company.’’. . . more

GNC: The Store Base

Seeking Alpha
GNC is on track to close about 200 company stores in the current year.

The company announced during the third quarter call plans to close 700-900 additional company stores over the next three years.

However, these numbers relate only to company owned stores – total store closures including franchisees and store-within-a-store locations are running at a higher rate.. . . more

Online holiday spending already hits new record

ChainStore Age
With more than two weeks left to go to Christmas, online spending is already reaching new heights.

Total online sales hit $80.3 billion from Nov. 1 through Dec. 6, up 18.6% from the year-ago period, according to new data from Adobe Analytics. It was the biggest online shopping period of all time in the U.S., beating last year’s record of $67.7 billion. The top states by basket size were Alaska, California, Washington, New York and Wyoming.

Adobe forecasts that the holiday season (Nov. 1 to Dec. 31) will see at least $124.1 billion in total U.S. online retail sales. . . . more

Ulta Beauty Q3 sales, earnings up; to ‘moderate’ store growth

Chain Store Age
Ulta Beauty’s net income increased 25.3% to $131.2 million in the quarter ended Oct. 28. Net sales increased 16.2% to $1.56 billion, in line with estimates. Total same-store sales increased 7.8%, driven by new store growth along with 5.3% transaction growth and 2.5% growth in average ticket. E-commerce sales spiked 42.5% to $170.7 million, representing nearly 11% of total company revenue.

Ulta kept up its heady expansion during the quarter, opening 42 new stores. It also remodeled four existing locations and relocated one unit. The retailer has opened 105 net new stores to date this year.. . . more

SHOS posts Q3 declines, plans store closings

HBSDealer
Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores (SHOS) reported third quarter 2018 net sales of $339.1 million, more than a 12% drop from sales of $386 million in the third quarter of 2017.

During the third quarter consolidated comparable store sales decreased 0.2%. The lawn and garden category achieved a positive comp and outperformed the average comparable store sales. Tools, home appliances and mattress categories underperformed the average, the company said.. . . more

Friday, December 7, 2018

Big Lots swings to loss amid higher expense; expects ‘challenging’ holiday results

Chain Store Age
Big Lots reported a wider-than-expected third quarter loss and lowered its earnings guidance for the holiday period and full year.

The discounter swung to a net loss for the quarter to Nov. 3 of $6.6 million from a profit of $4.4 million in the same period a year ago. 

Sales rose to $1.15 billion from $1.11 billion, beating estimates of $1.14 billion. Same-store sales rose 3.4%, also more than expected. . . . more

At Home store expansion on track amid 19th straight quarter of comp growth

Chain Store Age
At Home reported that its third-quarter net sales increased 25.5% to $267.2 million, driven by the net addition of 29 stores. Same-store sales rose 5.2%. It was the chain’s 19th consecutive quarter of same-store sales growth and 18th consecutive quarter of over 20% net sales growth.

On the chain’s earnings call, chairman and CEO Lee Bird said that, with a longer term potential of at least 600 locations, “new stores are the growth engine for this business.” The retailer currently operates 178 stores.. . . more

Retail Sales Are Robust for November

Apparel News
November retail sales jumped 8.8 percent, paving the way for a very good holiday season.

November sales were way above the 4.2 percent increase forecast by Retail Metrics president Ken Perkins. “Holiday 2018 is likely to be a merry one,” Perkins wrote in a Dec. 6 retail note.. . . more

Amazon targets airports for checkout-free store expansion

Reuters
Amazon.com Inc is looking at bringing its futuristic checkout-free store format to airports in an effort to win business from hungry, time-pressed travelers, according to public records and a person familiar with the strategy.

The move underscores how a company that started as an online bookseller is making forays into brick-and-mortar retail to capture a greater share of shoppers’ spending.. . . more

Walmart is acquiring the world's largest online seller of art

Business Insider
Walmart announced on Thursday that it plans to acquire Art.com, which it says is the world's largest online seller of artwork.

Walmart will acquire the entire company — catalog, intellectual property, trade name, and all of its US-based operations — for a price it did not disclose. The deal will close early next year, it said.. . . more

Where Toys 'R' Us 'loyalists' are shopping now

Yahoo Finance
It will be a holiday season without Toys ‘R’ Us, after the toy chain liquidated all 800 stores over the summer.

Foursquare, the location tech company, conducted a study of shoppers who visited Toys ‘R’ Us at least three times in 2017, labeling those “loyalist” shoppers. (28% of Toys ‘R’ Us shoppers overall are high loyalty.) Foursquare then looked at which stores those people visited in Q3 of this year, after the closure of Toys ‘R’ Us. (Foursquare pulls this data from its own app and partner apps.). . . more

Ten Retail Brands to Watch in 2019

Chain Store Age
Brand-building consultant and author Denise Lee Yohn has released her annual Brands to Watch list — the brands that she will be keeping her eye on in the coming year. There are 26 companies on the list (one for each letter of the alphabet), with retail and restaurant brands accounting for 10 of the spots. Here is Yohn’s take on the top 10 brands:

• Amazon: No surprise, Amazon will dominate the headlines. . . . more

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Sears chairman/CEO Eddie Lampert submits bid to buy bankrupt chain

Chain Store Age
The drawn-out saga of embattled Sears Holdings Corp. may have entered its final chapter.

In a move to save the bankrupt retailer, ESL Investments, the hedge fund run by Sears chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert, submitted a $4.6 billion bid on Thursday to purchase its remaining stores, which total about 500, headquarters, distribution locations, as well as Sears brands Kenmore and DieHard. . . . more

More food in the mix at Dollar General

Supermarket News
Food remains a linchpin of Dollar General Corp.’s efforts to expand its store base and fine-tune its retail formats, according to CEO Todd Vasos.

The dollar store chain plans to remodel more stores to include extra refrigerated space and a fresh produce section and step up its “Better-For-You” initiative to offer customers healthier consumables, Vasos told analysts yesterday in a conference call on third-quarter results.. . . more

Opportunity Zones, Marijuana-Related Properties and Retail Assets Among Best CRE Bets for HNW Investors in 2019

NREI
As high-net-worth (HNW) investors zone in on commercial real estate opportunities for 2019, Opportunity Zones, multifamily, marijuana, retail and industrial are emerging as some of the key areas to watch.

Real estate investments made next year by HNW investors should be weighed against rising interest rates and the prolonged economic expansion, according to Doug Brien, co-founder and CEO of Oakland, Calif.-based Mynd Property Management, which specializes in multifamily assets.. . . more

Online apparel returns set to rise this holiday season

Chain Store Age
The holiday season’s online sales may be off to a strong start, however consumers may not be keeping all of the clothes they purchased — not by a long-shot.

This was according to data from BodyBlock AI which revealed that half (50%) of Americans are expecting to return clothes ordered online due to poor fit. This could equate to $1.39 billion.. . . more

Barnes & Noble’s Top 20 holiday gift ideas include only 1 book

MarketWatch
Barnes & Noble Inc.’s list of 20 top holiday gift ideas in five categories includes several types of socks, some mittens, Mickey Mouse speakers and a Buddha board for “live-in-the-moment” painting, but only one book and no reading devices, not even its own Nook e-reader.

That’s actually one more book than last year, as the company’s 2017 list of 27 “top gift items” didn’t include a book. In 2016, the list of 40 “unique gift ideas” included seven books, while the list of 19 “last-minute” gift ideas included five books.. . . more

Walgreens expands prescription delivery program nationwide

Boston Herald
Walgreens is joining rival drugstore chain CVS Health in expanding home deliveries for prescriptions nationwide, as stores continue adjusting to a retail world made more consumer-friendly by online competition.

Walgreens said Thursday it will partner with FedEx to deliver prescriptions as soon as the next day for a $4.99 fee, and it also is providing same-day deliveries in several cities including New York, Chicago and Dallas. The Deerfield, Illinois, company started offering deliveries in several markets in October.. . . more

Weaker Sears holiday forecast heightens doubts about its survival

Chicago Tribune
Revised internal forecasts show that Sears Holdings Corp. will bleed hundreds of millions of dollars more than it expected over the coming weeks, casting new doubt on whether the bankrupt retailer can avoid liquidation.

When the company declared bankruptcy Oct. 15, it filed a budget with revenue forecasts of $241 million for the week of Christmas and $1.93 billion for the two months ending Jan. 12. But an updated budget filed Friday shows only $215 million the week of Christmas and $1.69 billion for the entire two months, almost $246 million less than originally projected.. . . more

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Target Opening Unique Store In West Hartford

West Hartford Patch
Target announced Tuesday that it plans to open its first small-format store in Connecticut located in West Hartford at the Bishops Corner Shopping Center.

Target has signed a lease with EDENS, a national retail real estate owner, operator and developer, for the approximately 59,000-square foot store, which will offer residents and families a quick-trip shopping option. . . . more

Gymboree to shutter Crazy 8 stores amid 'strategic review'

Retail Dive
Gymboree announced Wednesday it has begun a "comprehensive review of strategic options," which could include a sale or "other transactions" for its Gymboree, Janie and Jack, and Crazy 8 brands, according to a company press release.

The children's retailer said in the release that it plans to close all of its Crazy 8 locations and is "significantly reducing" the number of Gymboree locations in 2019, though for now all of the retailer's locations remain open.. . . more

Ahold Delhaize USA makes Giant investment

Supermarket News
After launching a brand refresh at Stop & Shop in the Northeast, Ahold Delhaize USA is now investing $175 million in a store upgrade program at Giant Food in the Mid-Atlantic.

Landover, Md.-based Giant said Tuesday that it plans to open one new store in Fairfax Circle, Va., and remodel 24 locations over the next two years across its Washington, D.C., regional trade area.. . . more

All the space department stores take up could build 350 malls—that may be way too much

CNBC
Even with Sears and Bon-Ton filing for bankruptcy protection this year, and shutting hundreds of locations, department stores still account for more than 350 million square feet of mall space across the United States. And that's likely way too much.

Companies like Macy's, J.C. Penney and now-bankrupt Sears — which still has hundreds of locations open — continue to evaluate their massive real estate portfolios, and industry analysts expect more store closures to come. . . . more

Hudson’s Bay posts lower Q3 loss as Saks Fifth Avenue drives improvement in overall sales

Star Business Journal
Hudson’s Bay Co. says it had a smaller overall third-quarter loss than last year as sales increased by 5.6 per cent to $2.2 billion, with its Saks Fifth Avenue brand of luxury retail stores continuing to show improvements.

Comparable-store sales from continuing operations increased 2.9 per cent overall, with Saks Fifth Avenue up 7.3 per cent and the Saks OFF 5th off-price brand down 2.3 per cent on a comparable-sales basis.. . . more

Here are the best retailers to work for in 2019, according to Glassdoor

Business Insider
Retail work isn't always easy— but some companies provide a better environment for employees than others.

Glassdoor just ranked the best places to work in 2019. Eight retail companies made the job site's list this year, accruing average scores on Glassdoor well above the site average of 3.4. . . more

Christopher & Banks closing up to 40 stores

Boston Business Journal
Women's clothier Christopher & Banks plans to close 30 to 40 stores over the next two years but has seen a rise in e-commerce and expects net sales to increase in 2019, the company said in a quarterly call with analysts.

The Plymouth, Minnesota-based company’s net sales for the quarter ended Nov. 3 fell 7.3 percent to $91.3 million, Fashion Network reported, while comparable sales decreased 7.5 percent, for a quarterly net loss of $8.8 million.

But online sales posted a revenue increase of 10.7 percent over the same period, and the company said that it expects net sales for fiscal 2019 to increase 2 percent to 3 percent, Nasdaq reported. . . . more

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Amazon testing cashierless retail store in larger format location

Mobile Payments Today
Amazon, the leading e-commerce retailer in the U.S., is testing its cashierless store concept in larger format spaces, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The report published late Sunday says that Amazon is testing the concept in a larger format store in Seattle, hoping the idea would work in larger sized stores with higher ceilings and more goods on the shelves.. . . more

Seritage Says 70% of Signed Lease Income Coming from Non-Sears Tenants

NAREIT
Benjamin Schall, president and CEO of Seritage Growth Properties, said that the REIT ended the third quarter with 70 percent of its income on a signed lease basis coming from non-Sears tenants. “That income is now with new, growing retailers who are attracted to the quality of our sites and the first-class environments that we’re developing,” he said.

Asked about the potential impact on investors if Seritage’s master lease with Sears were to end, Schall said the company has “more than sufficient” income coming online in the next 12 to 24 months from its commenced and completed redevelopment activity.. . . more

RH details expansion strategy, other developments for 2019

Chain Store Age
RH upped its expansion strategy and raised its guidance for the year amid third-quarter earnings that beat Street expectations.

The luxury home retailer is accelerating its expansion starting in 2019, with plans to open five to seven new “Gallery” locations per year, up from three to three to five. . . . more

AutoZone comes out of the gate fast as earnings surge

Chain Store Age
AutoZone topped Wall Street’s first-quarter earning estimates amid an acceleration of its commercial growth and a solid performance from its DIY business.

Net income surged 25.1% to $351.4 million. Sales increased to $2.64 billion fro $2.59 billion, in line with estimates. Same-store sales rose a better-than-expected 2.7%.. . . more

Dollar General Q3 tops Street; reveals 2019 store plans

Chain Store Age
Dollar General reported better-than-expected third quarter sales and earnings, but cut its full-year outlook on hurricane-related costs.

The discounter also revealed its expansion plans for the upcoming year. It plans to undertake some 2,075 real estate projects in 2019, including 975 new store openings (up from 900 in 2018), 1,000 mature store remodels, and 100 store relocations. . . . more

Kroger to Sell Groceries in Walgreens Stores

The Wall Street Journal
Kroger Co. plans to sell groceries in branded sections of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. stores, as both retailers look for ways to keep customers loyal to their products.

The first “Kroger Express” sections will open by early next year in 13 Walgreens stores near the grocer’s Cincinnati headquarters. The companies said they would add more of the 4,000-square-foot displays of produce, Home Chef meal kits and other products if customers take to them. They will account for roughly a third of an average Walgreens selling space.. . . more

Clothing is back in fashion for the holidays

CNBC
One takeaway from this year's Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping extravaganza is that there will be a lot more sweaters and coats under the tree this year.

Shoppers are turning up at stores such as Lululemon, Abercrombie & Fitch, Old Navy and Urban Outfitters this holiday season to buy clothing for themselves and for others. It's a stark contrast from the years that followed the Great Recession, when cash-strapped consumers stuck to their budgets and bought only necessities. For many people, for many years, that meant less clothing. But now, the apparel industry seems to be bouncing back.. . . more

Monday, December 3, 2018

Retailers Need To Gear Up For Post-Holiday Shopping Surge

Forbes
The National Retail Federation noted in a press release following Black Friday that online and in-store sales were almost equal, with 44 percent of shoppers going online and a near equal 40 percent shopping in-store. The International Council of Shopping Centers reported a “supercharged” holiday kickoff, with about 151 million people going to a mall or shopping center over the weekend.

But if retailers think the Black Friday-Cyber Monday stretch was intense, it’s possible they ain’t seen nothing yet. Sixty-four percent of respondents to our recent survey agreed that sales are actually better after the holidays, and 49 percent said discounts in January will draw them back into the stores. . . .more

Ikea to bring new store concept to U.S.

Chain Store Age
Ikea is finally dropping anchor in the Big Apple — but not with its typical format.

Ikea will open its first-ever city-focused location in the United States next spring, in Manhattan. The store, called Ikea Planning Studio, will feature smart solutions for urban living and small spaces. It is designed to give customers the opportunity to discover, select and order Ikea products for delivery to their home.. . . more

There's no place like online for the holidays

Retail Dive
Retailers just closed out one of the best Black Friday weekends in a while. While store traffic over Thanksgiving and Black Friday dropped 1% from last year, retailers made up for it with online sales, which rose 25% in the same period, according to a note from Morgan Stanley emailed to Retail Dive. In-store pickup of online orders helped legacy retailers compete online, with such services rising 65% year over year (a record increase), according to Adobe Analytics data.

But "closed" doesn’t seem to be quite the right word, considering that the appeals to shoppers have hardly abated. Extensions of Cyber Monday price cuts and shipping discounts piled into email inboxes the whole week. Strong spending continued into Tuesday, with Adobe expecting the online total for that day to rise 26% to $2.9 billion. . . . more

Meal kit players adapt to changing market

Supermarket News
Robust growth in the meal kit delivery market will come as the main players continually fine-tune their offerings to consumer preferences, according to a study by Packaged Facts.

The Rockville, Md.-based research firm said the U.S. meal kit market tallied sales of $2.6 billion last year and stands to reach $3.1 billion by the end of 2018, marking growth of nearly 22%. Double-digit sales gains are expected over the next several years but will decline to single-digit growth by 2023.. . . more

Neiman Marcus restructuring talks end

Chain Store Age
Neiman Marcus Group and its lenders have ended their debt negotiations — at least for now.

The discussions between the luxury department store retailer and its lenders and bondholders ended nearly after a month with no deal to extend debt maturing in the next two to three years, the Wall Street Journal reported. . . . more

Sears workers, galvanized by Toys 'R' Us, ask for bankruptcy assurances

TulsaWorld.com
Employees of Sears Holdings Corp., inspired by the hardship fund for workers affected by the collapse of Toys “R” Us Inc., are asking Chairman Eddie Lampert and the firms involved in the chain’s bankruptcy to preserve jobs and stores, as well as guarantee severance pay and pensions.

Sears says it has no plans to liquidate after filing for Chapter 11 court protection in October, but it has been closing stores and cutting jobs as part of that process. It’s still working to keep several hundred outlets alive as part of Lampert’s plan to buy the company out of bankruptcy. Sears has lost billions of dollars since Lampert combined the Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based company with Kmart in 2005.. . . more

Where are the drones? Amazon's customers are still waiting

ABC News
Jeff Bezos boldly predicted five years ago that drones would be carrying Amazon packages to people's doorsteps by now.

Amazon customers are still waiting. And it's unclear when, if ever, this particular order by the company's founder and CEO will arrive.

Bezos made billions of dollars by transforming the retail sector. But overcoming the regulatory hurdles and safety issues posed by drones appears to be a challenge even for the world's wealthiest man. The result is a blown deadline on his claim to CBS' "60 Minutes" in December 2013 that drones would be making deliveries within five years.. . . more