Tuesday, July 16, 2019

From Old Navy to Madewell: How sub-brands grow up to eat their parents

Retail Dive
They're not designed to be predators. But sometimes a sub-brand ultimately does a flagship more harm than good.

The theory is often sound: create a new brand to better compete with rivals, which often includes emerging businesses that are disrupting your offer. But the result can mean that your customers drift to that new entity, especially if it was developed as a cheap alternative, and subsequently abandon the original. That can induce not just financial and sales defeats, but also a brand conundrum.. . . more

Four Emerging Technologies in Retail Real Estate

From IoT systems to space-sharing platforms, bricks-and-mortar retail is seeing plenty of new technologies.

Ninety percent of worldwide retail sales are still done in physical stores, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence report. In addition, 43 percent of consumers are likely to spend more money shopping at a store that offers a meaningful experience, according to a 2019 Storefront retail trends report. Technology tools can often be used to enhance retail revenue or solve issues with in-store shopping. The technologies outlined below are attempting to do just that. . . . more

Rent-A-Center to make $47.5M acquisition

Dallas Business Journal
Plano-based Rent-A-Center Inc. (Nasdaq: RCII) plans to acquire Merchants Preferred for $47.5 million in a deal expected to close in the third quarter, the company announced Monday.

The deal for Atlanta-based Merchants Preferred, which provides convenient lease-purchasing services to furniture and appliance merchants, will add an additional 2,500 locations to Rent-A-Center’s Acceptance Now platform. . . . more

Online sales will reach $645 billion in 2020; but growth slowing

Chain Store Age
Online retail sales growth may have reached an inflection point.

Online sales growth has slowed for four consecutive quarters for the first time since 2012, according to FTI Consulting’s 2019 U.S. Online Retail Forecast, and may have reached an inflection point that could result in slowing growth moving forward. The Retail & Consumer Products practice at FTI expects U.S. online retail sales of $575 billion in 2019, a 12.3% increase over 2018. That compares to a 14.2% increase in 2018, when the market grew from $450 billion and topped $500 billion for the first time, and a 15.6% increase in 2017.. . . more

U.S. retail sales beat expectations in June

Yahoo Finance
U.S. retail sales increased more than expected in June, pointing to strong consumer spending, which could help to blunt some of the hit on the economy from weak business investment. The Commerce Department said on Tuesday retail sales rose 0.4% last month as households stepped up purchases of motor vehicles and a variety of other goods. Data for May was revised slightly down to show retail sales increasing 0.4%, instead of increasing 0.5% as previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales edging up 0.1% in June. Compared to June last year, retail sales advanced 3.4%.. . . more

Monday, July 15, 2019

Dollar General shifts strategy to draw wealthier customers

Dollar General is expanding its offerings to include home furnishings, kitchenware and party supplies, in a bid to attract wealthier customers.

Roughly 75 percent of the bargain chain’s $25 billion in sales comes from such low-margin items as food; cleaning and household supplies; and personal-care products, but these have been squeezing the profit margin, reports CNN. So over the past year, Dollar General has been introducing such items as home decorations, pillows and candles. These will be on the shelves in roughly 2,500 Dollar General stores by year-end — about 15 percent of the chain's 15,000 units nationwide.. . . more

GameStop partners to develop new store concepts and in-store experiences

Chain Store Age
GameStop is doubling down on brick-and-mortar.

The world’s largest video game retailer is partnering with global design firm R/GA to develop and piloting new and streamlined physical store concepts, introducing new ways for gamers to try new titles before they buy them, and giving stores a unique layout and purpose that appeal to gamers. From store concepts that offer competitive sessions in home-grown e-Leagues to locations that sell strictly retro gaming software and hardware, GameStop plans to pilot the new store concepts in a “select market.”. . . more

Target launches 'tween' brand in time for back-to-school rush

Chicago Tribune
Target Corp. on Saturday rolled out a new owned-brand line of clothing, electronics and school supplies aimed at 9- to 13-year-old girls and strategically timed the launch during the back-to-school season.

The assortment, marketed under the name More than Magic, is the first multiproduct category line that Target both owns and designed from the ground up.

With 500 items under $30, it includes apparel, jewelry, journals and accessories such as small bags and hair brushes with positive messages such as "Dream big" or "You don't have to be perfect to be amazing." It also includes paraben-free makeup and volume-limiting headphones.. . . more

Survey: Consumers prefer the same online retailers across generations

Chain Store Age
The four most popular e-commerce sites have the same ranking among three key age demographics.

According to a new survey of 983 U.S. consumers from custom signage provider Signs.com, the four most frequently shopped online retailers for Baby Boomers, Gen X, and millennials are Amazon, Walmart, eBay, and Target. Discrepancies do not start until the fifth-place ranking, which is held by Kohl’s for Baby Boomers, Costco for Gen X, and Best Buy for millennials.. . . more

Barneys New York explores options that include bankruptcy

U.S. luxury department store operator Barneys New York Inc is exploring options that include a bankruptcy filing, as it struggles with high rents and changing consumer tastes, people familiar with the matter said on Saturday.

The nearly 100-year-old retailer, known for its high-end designer collection, is working with law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP to prepare for a potential bankruptcy filing that could come in the coming weeks, one of the sources said.. . . more

Store closures accelerate and may top 12,000 in 2019. Here’s what’s closed so far this year

Despite the year being more than halfway over, the pace of store closures doesn’t appear to be slowing down in the retail industry. More companies piled on the bad news this week.

So far, 7,062 store closures have been announced by U.S. retailers this year, according to a tracking done by Coresight Research. And the tally could top 12,000 by the end of 2019, setting a new record, Coresight says. Last year, Coresight tracked 5,524 store closures, down more than 30% from an all-time high of 8,139 closures announced in 2017.. . . more

Will Salem, N.H., be the site of Boston’s best new town center?

Chain Store Age
It will have 800,000 sq. ft. of “best in class” retail. It will have a million sq. ft. of Class A office space. It will have 900 residential units. It will have a “high energy” entertainment district with a 6-acre lake sitting in the middle of it.

What it does not have that residents and tenants of new developments in booming Boston do have is state income taxes.. . . more

Nordstrom Really Needs an Anniversary Sale Win

If you’ve spent any time in the Instagram fashion bubble recently, you probably know that Nordstrom Inc. is holding a massive promotional event that kicks into high gear on Friday. It’s called the Anniversary Sale, and it’s a weeks-long run of price reductions on new merchandise that the retailer has done a remarkable job of getting the fashion influencer-set to hype.

This time around, the deals bonanza represents an especially important test for the department store. Some of it has to do with the timing. Wall Street sentiment has curdled on this chain in recent months. In fact, Nordstrom is the worst-performing stock in the S&P 500 Index year-to-date. . . . more

Why Prime Day is vital to Amazon

Boston Business Journal
Beyond the revenue boost Amazon will get from customers eager to snap up cheap electronics, apparel and beauty products, the event’s greater value may be the people it recruits to Prime, the membership programme customers must join to access Prime Day discounts.

With Amazon’s revenue growth slowing — to a four-year low of 16.9 per cent in the first quarter — Prime is an important factor in improving the company’s margins and building out new businesses, including advertising, that will power future growth.. . . more

Friday, July 12, 2019

Cinnaholic Celebrates Monumental Growth in First Half of 2019

Cinnaholic, the gourmet cinnamon roll bakery acclaimed for serving innovative plant-based cinnamon roll creations, announced today record-breaking growth in the first half of 2019. The brand has already opened 10 franchise locations since January in new markets including New Jersey, Houston, Phoenix and Ottawa, Ontario, bringing its total location count to 38 units.

The brand projects a strong growth trajectory with newly signed agreements in San Antonio and Austin, Texas; Tulsa, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Tampa and Coral Springs, Florida; Nashua, New Hampshire; and Birmingham, Alabama. With more than 100 locations in the development pipeline, Cinnaholic is on track to reach 50 locations by the end of 2019 and open another 25 by the end of 2020.. . . more

Three non-Amazon metrics to watch during Prime Day

Chain Store Age
The retail industry will be focused on Amazon’s performance this Prime Day, but some other statistics are worth tracking, too.

Retail observers are anxiously awaiting Prime Day (July 15-16) to get a better sense of how strong Amazon is right now. News flash – however the final figures turn out, Amazon is doing just fine.

But by expanding their attention beyond Amazon, industry experts can gain valuable insight into what is happening in the broader world of retail. Here are three other metrics worth following. . . . more

Fred’s closing more stores

Chain Store Age
Fred’s Inc.’s store footprint keeps shrinking.

The embattled retailer announced that it will close an additional 129 retail stores and hold clearance sales across all locations in an effort to refocus its product mix, simplify its store portfolio and repay debt. This is Fred’s fourth round of closings — the chain has closed some 300 stores during the past few months — and, when completed, will leave it with 80 locations, centered primarily around its distribution center in Dublin, Ga.. . . more

America has fallen out of love with the suburbs

Fast Company
The Boston metro area may be the first region in America to claim that it’s put an end to sprawl.

“There’s no leasing activity happening in the drivable suburbs,” says Tracy Hadden Loh, senior data scientists at the George Washington University School for Businesses’ Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis. “All of the new demand for retail, office, and multifamily rental space is going to walkable, urban places.”. . . more

Charming Charlie to close all stores

Chain Store Age
Charming Charlie is closing up shop.

The jewelry and accessories retailer has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy — the second time in less than two years — with plans to close all of its 261 stores. Going-out-of-business sales are already underway in many locations, with all stores expected to close no later than Aug. 31. Charming Charlie’s website is no longer taking orders.. . . more

Pembroke’s plan to overhaul Seaport World Trade Center gets city OK

Boston Business Journal
Pembroke Real Estate, the real estate arm of Boston-based Fidelity Investments, has been approved to overhaul the Seaport World Trade Center. The Boston Planning and Development Agency signed off on the plan Thursday.

Features of the project include adding cutouts and “public niches” along the long facade of the Seaport World Trade Center, which extends along Commonwealth Pier, as well as interior courtyards for office tenants. Other features include creating 45,000 square feet of retail within a new street-front colonnade in the Seaport World Trade Center Headhouse, adding a public terrace on the Headhouse’s upper level, and creating a 25,000-square-foot open-air public Harbor Plaza.. . . more

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Bed Bath & Beyond to Review Assets Under Pressure From Activists

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., the home-goods retailer that also owns Cost Plus World Market and Christmas Tree Shops, is reviewing its portfolio of store brands as part of a turnaround plan.

The brand review is one step in a four-part strategy that interim chief Mary Winston outlined Wednesday in her first major move since taking the helm in May from Steven Temares. He stepped down under pressure from activist investors.. . . more

ZIPS Dry Cleaners Presses On With Aggressive Expansion

With more than 60 locations and a burgeoning development pipeline, ZIPS Dry Cleaners, known for its revolutionary one-price, same-day business model, is making all the right moves as a top franchise intent on owning the No. 1 spot in every operating market.

To zero in on what makes ZIPS Dry Cleaners such a compelling consumer concept and best-in-class franchise proposition, just do the math.. . . more

Retail Rents Are Rising Across the Board, But at a Glacial Pace

Despite continuing U.S. store closures, retail rental rates are trending slightly higher, and some argue that the overall retail sector is in relatively good shape.

“When you take all retail product types, the overall asking rents are going up,” says James Cook, Americas director of retail research with real estate services firm JLL. “That belies or goes against the popular narrative of the day.”. . . more

World Trade Center Mall Has a Plan to Get You to Stick Around

There are always crowds at the shopping mall inside the Oculus transit hub in lower Manhattan: commuters rushing to their trains, tourists wandering about after a stop at the nearby 9/11 Memorial & Museum or a photo shoot at the Statue of Liberty.

The mammoth, butterfly-shaped Oculus draws as many as 120 million visits each year -- often people passing through on their way to somewhere else. Visitors spend just a little over a half hour on average at the mall, Westfield World Trade Center. Now, its operator has plans to get them to linger longer.. . . more

McDonald's Franchisees Call Chicken With Chick-Fil-A

The Street
McDonald's U.S. franchisees are getting tired of playing chicken with Chick-fil-A.

A group representing national franchisee owners of McDonald's restaurants on Wednesday balked at their parent company for not offering a chicken sandwich that fairly competes with southern rival Chick-fil-A.

"A Chicken Sandwich at McDonald's should be our top priority," the National Owners Association board said in an email addressed to fellow operators. "JFK called for a man on the moon; our call should be a category leading chicken sandwich.". . . more

Mega-Mall Vs. Mall Next Door? A Shopping Showdown In The Garden State

Westfield Garden State Plaza has been ranked one of the 10 best performing malls in the United States. The New York Times has called it “perhaps the single most influential mall in the country” because it is a favorite of Wall Street analysts, who grade retailers based on what they see there.

So why is it embarking on an ambitious plan to transform itself from a suburban mall into a live, work, play community with apartments, offices and public parks?

First, it sees an existential threat to all malls in the digital age if they don’t evolve. Second, it sees a more immediate threat—the American Dream mega-mall under construction ten miles away, in the New Jersey Meadowlands.. . . more

Goldman gets bullish on big box retailers, likes Target, Home Depot and Walmart

In a world of retail “winners and losers” Goldman Sachs is betting on big-box retailers it feels will shoot up over the next year.

The firm recommends Target, Costco, Home Depot and Walmart among others because of their strong market share growth, defensiveness against an unknown trade war with China and years of investments finally paying off.. . . more

​Fast-food chains to trial licence plate recognition in drive-throughs

Boston Business Journal
Drive-throughs have been a staple of American life since the mid 20th century, but how they work — and how well they know you — is about to change.

Fast-food chains are looking to deploy cameras that recognise licence plates in order to identify customers, personalise digital menus and speed up sales. Coffee chain Starbucks began trialling such a system in Korea last year, with customers who preregistered their cars, but restaurants in the US are now looking to follow suit.. . . more

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Does the world still need Babies R Us?

Retail Dive
It's been a little over a year since bankrupt Toys R Us outlined a plan to liquidate all of its U.S. operations, which not only included the namesake brand, but also Babies R Us.

Before Toys R Us became a leader in the toy industry, the company had its beginnings in the baby furniture business. Founder Charles Lazarus opened "Children's Bargain Town" in 1948 — nearly 50 years before the first Babies R Us opened in Westbury, New York. . . . more

Commercial Lease Assignments: A Tale of Two Leases and A Landlord’s Right to Recapture

Commercial leases typically contain standard protections for landlords that may be potential pitfalls for tenants seeking to assign or transfer interests in a lease. A lease recapture provision permits a landlord to terminate a lease and “recapture” the leased premises when the tenant requests landlord’s consent to assign, sublease or transfer the lease. These recapture rights, which are frequently overlooked, can actually have shocking results for tenants.

In order to assign a lease, the landlord’s consent is required. The Texas Property Code provides that leases, unlike certain other commercial contracts, are not assignable without a landlord’s prior written consent. Many leases enlarge the obligation to get consent by expressly preventing the tenant from selling or changing ownership interests in the tenant without landlord’s consent. . . . more

Consumers putting off making purchases until Prime Day

Chain Store Age
More than half of consumers (52%) will put off making a purchase in anticipation of Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Day deal.

That’s according to a survey by PwC. More than 60% of the 1,000 consumers surveyed said they signed up for Prime membership to take advantage of Prime Day discounts. But not everyone will shop at just Amazon. Fifty-five percent of respondents said they will shop around for deals from other retailers.. . . more

Cheap eats get more expensive as a higher minimum wage forces restaurants to raise prices

Chicago Tribune
Some research has found that raising the minimum wage has a modest impact on consumer prices. A University of California at Berkeley, study published last year examined online menu prices at nearly 900 restaurants in San Jose, Calif., before and after the city raised its minimum wage from $8 to $10 in 2013 and found an average price increase of just 1.45%.

But other studies find steeper price effects as the wage climbs higher. And as the price gap widens between eating out and eating in, some consumers may be more inclined to cook at home than pay $8 for a burrito they used to get for $6.. . . more

Don’t expect back-to-school spending to give retailers a lift, Deloitte projects spending will be relatively flat

If retailers were hoping that the back-to-school shopping season would inspire consumers to spend more, they’re going to be disappointed.

A new survey from Deloitte suggests spending during the second busiest shopping period of the year will be about flat with year-ago levels. Consumers shopping for back-to-school clothing, school supplies and electronics for children in grades K-12 are expected to spend $27.8 billion this year, up just 1.8% from 2018, the survey found. . . . more

Domestic Private Investors Become the Fastest-Growing Buyer Pool for Multi-Tenant Retail Centers

Private investors have become the fastest growing buyer pool for retail centers due to low interest rates and an increase in 1031 and 1033 exchange activity, according to research from brokerage firm Stan Johnson Company and Real Capital Analytics (RCA).

Private domestic investors represented approximately 72 percent of the buyer pool for multi-tenant retail in 2018, based on sales volume, according to Stan Johnson and RCA. That’s a significant increase from around 42 percent in 2014.. . . more

Macy’s new ‘story’ is the outdoors

Chain Store Age
Macy’s is celebrating the great outdoors — with a little help from Dick’s Sporting Goods and Miracle-Gro — in its latest experiential store concept.

The department store retailer has added Outdoor Story shops to 36 locations nationwide. The shops are the second iteration of Story at Macy’s, and come about 14 months after Macy’s acquired Story, the experiential Manhattan retailer that reinvents itself with a new theme every couple of months.. . . more

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Restaurants Unlimited files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Restaurants Unlimited, a Seattle-based company that operates 35 fine-dining and polished casual restaurants in six states, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the District Court of Delaware, citing rising minimum wages in its core markets, specifically Seattle, San Francisco and Portland, Ore., as well as the company’s own expansion and a general national trend away from casual dining.. . . more

Boston Market shutters 10% of stores

Boston Market said Monday that it has closed 45 stores, or about 10% of its 454-unit system, due to store underperformance, according to a letter circulated by CEO Frances Allen to employees.

The Golden, Colo.-based chain owned by Sun Capital Partners Inc., closed six restaurants on June 30, while the remaining 39 closed on July 7. . . . more

Kohl’s goes nationwide with Amazon returns

Kohl’s “biggest” initiative of the year involves Amazon.

The department store retailer is now accepting unpackaged Amazon returns at its more than 1,100 stores nationwide. Kohl’s and Amazon previously piloted the program in some 100 Kohl stores in the Los Angeles, Chicago, and Milwaukee markets. In April, the chain announced it planned to roll out the service to all stores in July. . . . more

Parent company of Famous Footwear, other brands to open stores in China

Caleres is expanding globally.

The footwear company said it will begin to distribute footwear in greater China, including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, through a joint venture with Brand Investment Holding, a member of the Gemkell Group. The venture will kick off with Caleres’ Naturalizer and Sam Edelman brands, which will be marketed and sold across multiple channels, including branded retail stores and e-commerce sites. . . . more

Report: Some Amazon workers plan Prime Day stoppage

At least one Amazon warehouse may not operate at full capacity for part of the upcoming Prime Day sales event. . . . more

Revival Café & Kitchen Plans to Open a Newbury Street Location

Boston Magazine
A local coffee and sandwich shop with two locations on the other side of the river is making moves to open a Back Bay spot: Revival Café & Kitchen is going before the City of Boston Licensing Board this week to open a locationat 103 Newbury St. . . . more

Monday, July 8, 2019

Primark sales grow 4 percent, continues retail expansion

Fashion United
Primark, part of the diversified group Associated British Foods plc has announced through a statement that sales in the year-to-date were 4 percent ahead of last year at constant currency and actual exchange rates, driven by increased selling space but offset by a decline in like-for-like sales. For the full year, the company expects good profit growth in Primark and, group adjusted earnings per share are expected to be in line with the previous year. . . . more

Big Lots to celebrate the grand opening of 17 Nashville-area stores

Big Lots will be celebrating the grand opening of 17 newly remodeled stores throughout the Nashville area – including the Tullahoma store - on Friday, July 26. . . . more

uBreakiFix Opens 25 New Stores in Q2, Celebrates 10th Anniversary and 500th Store Opening

Yahoo Finance
uBreakiFix announced significant growth for the second quarter of 2019, boasting a total of 25 new stores. These second quarter additions bring the brand’s total footprint to 522 stores across North America.

The brand’s highest growth markets included Texas, with four new locations; Ontario, with three new locations; and Oklahoma—a new market for the brand, which welcomed three locations in Q2, including the uBreakiFix’s 500th store opening in Tulsa on April 10.. . . more

Long-delayed mega-mall sets opening date

The waiting may finally be over.

American Dream, the 3 million-sq.-ft. retail and entertainment destination located next to Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., announced it will open on Friday, October 25, 2019. It is the first time the developer — Triple Five Group — has set a specific date for the opening. In May, it announced a “fall” opening and back in March, it had announced a “late summer’ opening. . . . more

Pier 1 Imports’ Q1 loss widens; ups store closures

Pier 1 Imports continued to bleed in the first quarter as its loss nearly tripled and its sales continued to slide.

The home decor retailer, which is working to turnaround its ailing business, reported a net loss of $81.7 million, or $19.97 a share, for the period ended June 1, compared with a loss of $28.5 million, or $7.11 a share, in the year ago. (Pier 1 completed a 1-for-20 reverse stock split on June 20.). . . more

Vision benefits giant makes a power play in physical store strategy

As the lines between health care and retail continue to blur, VSP’s newest deal is poised to give the company a strong foothold in the retail marketplace.

VSP Global, whose businesses include national vision benefits company VSP Vision Care, on Thursday announced that it will acquire San Antonio, Texas-based VisionWorks — the sixth largest optical chain in the United States. . . . more

Legendary San Francisco retailer acquired

Gump’s, which shut the doors of its iconic store in San Francisco in December after filing for bankruptcy, is getting a new lease on life. . . . more

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Walmart’s e-commerce biz is reportedly racking up $1 billion in losses and that’s only one problem it has

Walmart’s attempt to catch up with Amazon comes at a huge cost — and it’s stirring up hard feelings within the company.

While Walmart has been making investments — like buying Jet.com for $3.3 billion — to try to compete with Jeff Bezos’ behemoth, it’s been a drag on the big-box business’ profitability. So much so that Walmart is now projecting losses of over $1 billion for its U.S. e-commerce division, helmed by Marc Lore, this year, on sales of between $21 billion and $22 billion, according to a report by Vox, citing discussions with multiple sources familiar with those financials.. . . more

UBS: Nordstrom is a 'no-growth retailer'

Retail Dive
Nordstrom and even its Rack off-price unit are losing customers and sales to lower-price rivals, according to new research from UBS analysts led by Jay Sole. The team has downgraded the department store to a "no-growth retailer," according to their report, which was emailed to Retail Dive.

Shoppers once flocked to Nordstrom for special occasion and other pricier apparel, but are now looking for wedding and other attire elsewhere, according to the report. The trend of wearing more casual clothing is also an issue for the retailer, UBS said.. . . more

CRE Property Prices Still Reaching for the Peak

Ten years into this expansion cycle and properties are continuing to post impressive price growth.

Property price growth rose 1.1 percent in May from April, the biggest monthly increase since early 2015, according to the latest U.S. National All-Property Index tracked by research firm Real Capital Analytics (RCA). Year-over-year pricing growth jumped to 7.2 percent. In fact, the RCA Index shows that pricing is still moving up across all four of the core property sectors. Industrial is leading with year-over-year growth of 11.8 percent, while retail is trailing with a 3.1 percent average increase in pricing.. . . more

Forever 21 Hits Rough Patch

Forever 21
After years of aggressively expanding its store count and moving into supersized locations, Forever 21 is in retreat. It has been quietly downsizing some of its biggest stores at malls across the country. 

The once-hot retailer is grappling with a sales slump as mall traffic declines and teens gravitate toward other fast-fashion outlets like Zara and H&M and online-only retailers like Asos and Fashion Nova. It has reversed course on its philosophy of bigger is better, yet has sought to hold on to its physical footprint by shrinking stores or opening smaller locations. . . . more

Target readies more college campus stores

Supermarket News
Target Corp. plans to open three more small-format stores on or near university campuses to meet the food and daily essentials needs of on-the-go college students.

Slated to open their doors this fall, Target said, are a 20,000-square-foot store on the University of Kentucky campus in Lexington, Ky.; a 22,000-square-foot store on the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing, Mich.; and a 21,000-square-foot store near the University of Washington in Seattle.

Currently, Target operates 23 small-format stores on or near college campuses in 13 states, including 10 locations opened last year.. . . more

Amazon’s Deal Making Threatened by D.C. Scrutiny

The Wall Street Journal
Amazon.com Inc. has been on a buying spree in recent years, but the U.S. government’s increased scrutiny of large tech companies threatens to slow that pace.

The company has struck more than $20 billion worth of acquisitions and investments since the start of 2017, more than its deal volume in all of the previous 23 years in the online retailer’s history, according to data provider Dealogic. The spree’s biggest was Amazon’s $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods Inc. in 2017.. . . more

Walmart leads NRF's top 100 retailers

Retail Dive
Walmart tops the National Retail Federation's measure of the top 100 retailers, in a list that the organization itself said reflects "stability."

While Amazon comes in at number two, its $120.9 billion in retail sales last year pale in comparison to Walmart's $387.6 billion, according to the list published in the organization's "Stores" magazine.. . . more

Wachusett Brewing Co. expanding to Harvard Square

Boston Business Journal
Wachusett Brewing Co., the state’s third-largest brewery by production, plans to open a third brewery and tap room in Cambridge’s Harvard Square this fall.

The facility will open at 33 Dunster St., formerly the home of John Harvard’s Brewery & Ale House, and feature a 15-barrel brewhouse, 16 rotating beers on tap, live entertainment and a full kitchen serving up “creative flatbreads,” the brewery announced in a press release Tuesday.. . . more

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Bob’s Discount Furniture puts new spin on ‘discount’

Chain Store Age
Fast-growing Bob’s Discount Furniture wants to change the way folks interpret the word “discount” in its name.

The nation’s 12th-largest furniture chain has launched a campaign designed to challenge a misperception that the word “discount” in its brand name indicates “cheap” alternatives to better-made furniture. The campaign, now running across TV, radio, outdoor, digital and in-store, is meant to clarify this inaccuracy while doubling down on the true nature of the Bob’s “discount,” the company said.. . . more

Former Sears store getting a new lease on retail

Union Leader
Half of the Sears store at the Mall of New Hampshire, a casualty of the retail giant’s bankruptcy, will transform into Dick’s Sporting Goods before year’s end, according to a mall spokeswoman, reconfirming what the New Hampshire Union Leader previously reported.

A Dave & Buster’s restaurant is slated to open in 2020 in the other half of the space. . . . more

Consumer tastes are redefining convenience retail

Food Business News
Convenience stores have evolved from the old model of “gas, Cokes and smokes” into a food-forward destination, said Frank Beard, trends analyst at GasBuddy, a Boston-based technology company.

“The industry today is building bigger stores, cleaner stores, becoming that real destination for high-quality products,” Mr. Beard said during a June 24 panel discussion at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York. “It’s moving very rapidly in a more specialty direction.”. . . more

Guess Who Just Became Amazon's Biggest Shipper

Yahoo Finance
FedEx rocked the world of online shopping recently when it announced that it had made the decision not to renew its contract with Amazon.com. The carrier would no longer deliver FedEx Express shipments in the United States. The shipper downplayed the move, pointing out that Amazon packages represented less than 1.3% of FedEx's total revenue in 2018.

In the wake of these moves, it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that Amazon is now its own biggest shipper.. . . more

The Lower Depths, Kenmore Square bar known for beer and tots, closes

Boston Business Journal
The Lower Depths, a Kenmore Square beer bar well-known for its tater tots and diverse beer selection, has closed.

The cash-only bar made the announcement via posts on Facebook and on Twitter Sunday night.

According to the bar’s website, The Lower Depths opened in December 2006 and took its name from a play about impoverished Russians by Maxim Gorky.. . . more

JLL Closes HFF Deal

Globe St
JLL said it was set to close its acquisition of HFF after the end of regular trading hours on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday—and just as predicted, it did. The final matter of HFF shareholder approval was finalized at an annual meeting earlier in the day, allowing JLL to close the books.

With the deal complete, JLL plans to use its newly-added capital markets expertise to expand in the US and Europe.. . . more

Hooters Of America Has Been Sold

Restaurant Business
Hooters of America, the breastaurant chain long rumored to be for sale, has been acquired by Nord Bay Capital and TriArtisan Capital Advisors, the parties announced late Monday.

Details of the deal were not disclosed. Previous Hooters owners Chanticleer Holdings and H.I.G. Capital will retain stakes in the casual-dining chain.

Hooters of America is the franchisor and operator of more than 430 Hooters restaurants in 38 states and 27 countries. . . . more

Monday, July 1, 2019

Abercrombie customers will soon be able to buy now but pay later

Chain Store Age
Online customers of Abercrombie & Fitch Co. will be able to take a little longer to pay for purchases.

The specialty apparel retailer is deploying the Klarna Pay Later solution for digital shoppers in the U.S. and U.K. Later this year, U.S. customers can utilize Klarna’s Pay in 4 product, while U.K. customers will have access to Klarna’s Pay in 3 product. These solutions enable customers to pay for online purchases after delivery, in three or four installments, respectively, over a two-month time period.. . . more

The wealth gap is a retail problem

Retail Dive
This month marks 10 years of an economic expansion in the U.S. that has been seen mostly on Wall Street, less so on Main Street. It's either tied for or is the longest recovery ever, depending on which economist you speak to, although it may have reached its limit. Some economists say a recession is swiftly approaching, if not already here.

That's hardly good news for retailers, considering how many have had to shutter stores, work to address new shopping preferences and, in some cases, declare bankruptcy. If howls of a "retail apocalypse" in recent years were overly dramatic, so is the notion of a major retail miracle. . . . more

Forever 21 Officials Approached Landlords About Possible Purchase

A small faction of officials at Forever 21 Inc. has asked its biggest landlords if they’d consider taking a stake in the clothing retailer, as the company’s leadership battles internally about how to turn around the struggling store chain.

The group, which didn’t have the backing of the company’s co-founder, talked to Simon Property Group Inc. and Brookfield Property Partners LP about a range of options including a sale, according to people with knowledge of the matter.  . . . more

Walmart monopolizes grocery market in some areas

Chain Store Age
A new analysis indicates Walmart is preventing grocery competition in many rural sections of the U.S., according to CNN.

A study from the non-profit Institute for Local Self-Reliance claims that Walmart controls a 70% or higher share of the grocery market in 38 regions of the U.S., and 50% or more of the grocery market in 43 metropolitan areas and 160 smaller markets. . . . more

Pier 1 Imports gets buried in a crowded home furnishings market

The Dallas Morning News
Pier 1 interim CEO Cheryl Bachelder says the store has a loyal customer base and is working to get its mojo back. But it can’t catch a break.

The challenges facing the Fort Worth-based home furnishings chain of 973 stores seem to be multiplying as it struggles to recover from a year when sales dropped 14 percent and it swung to an annual loss for the first time since the Great Recession.. . . more

Walgreens Isn’t Done Closing Drugstores In U.S. Or Abroad

Walgreens Boots Alliance is closing 200 Boots drugstores in the United Kingdom as part of a global “transformation cost management program” launched earlier this year that has figured in store closures in the U.S.

The plan disclosed late last week and confirmed by Walgreens Boots Alliance to shutter 200 U.K. stores and consolidate them with other Boots locations comes after a decision announced earlier this year to shutter more Rite Aid drugstores in the U.S. than originally anticipated. Walgreens initially purchased 1,932 Rite Aid stores and planned to close up to 600, but that number is growing to 750, executives said in April.. . . more

Tatte to open South Boston production facility, hire 100

Boston Business Journal
Tatte Bakery and Cafe, a popular local bakery chain that has significantly expanded its local footprint in the past year, will anchor National Development’s mixed-use project in South Boston with a 30,000-square-foot production facility, test kitchen, office and cafe.

Beyond the Tatte facility, the renovated Cole Hersee building is expected to have 45,000 square feet of additional ground-floor space that can house up to 10 additional retail and restaurant spaces, as well as second-story office space, said Ed Marsteiner, a partner and director of acquisitions at Newton-based National Development. . . . more

Friday, June 28, 2019

How Pier 1, Rite Aid and other distressed retailers stacked up in Q1

Retail Dive
In a May report, analysts with Moody's described an emerging Darwinian landscape for the industry, where the largest retailers with the healthiest balance sheets take advantage of everybody else's debt woes, underinvestment and execution missteps. The analysts called it a "survival of the fittest" in retail, which could lead to further consolidation of the industry (meaning there could be more big retail liquidations to come).

To some extent, the industry saw that play out in the first quarter of 2019. Walmart, Target, Amazon and Costco have reported relatively booming sales, growth online and sizable profits. But the quarter was tough for many that are trying to find their footing and pay off interest expenses. . . . more

How Should Retail Leases Account for Omni-Channel Transactions?

Retail landlords need to adapt to tenants increasingly employing omni-channel sales formats, according to industry insiders.

“Many times, [landlords] have a clause in the lease that requires tenants to report sales, just as a way for the landlord to track the health of the tenant,” says Scott Holmes, senior vice president and national director of the national retail group with brokerage firm Marcus & Millichap. “That gives the landlord some degree of leverage in leases that are due for renegotiation if they know that the tenant is doing great in that location. So, landlords for quite some time have been concerned about how do they track all sources of sales being generated by the trade area surrounding a store, especially as more and more sales are happening online?”. . . more

Can Taking Hudson’s Bay Private Save the Ailing Retail Company?

Struggling Canadian department store chain Hudson's Bay Co., owner of Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor, might be going private.

A group of Hudson’s Bay shareholders, spearheaded by Executive Chairman Richard Baker, has offered a cash bid valued at $1.74 billion Canadian dollars (or roughly US $1.31 billion) to take the company private.. . . more

Study examines wider impact of Amazon Prime Day

Chain Store Age
Online consumers change their behavior for what has become “Black Friday in July.”

Digital marketing platform Bazaarvoice has conducted a study of 1,000 U.S. consumers and more than 6,000 retail sites (including top U.S. retailers) that are part of its network. With numerous other retailers now offering July online sales events to compete with Amazon Prime Day, Bazaarvoice saw a 21% increase in visitor traffic during Prime Day 2018 in comparison to typical traffic. Additionally, the number of shoppers increased by 15%, and the number of orders increased by 11%.. . . more

Chico’s gives same answer to new Sycamore bid

Chain Store Age
Chico’s FAS is saying no to a lower version of a buyout offer made in May.

The Chico’s board of directors has unanimously rejected an unsolicited proposal received from Sycamore Partners on June 19, 2019 to acquire all of the outstanding shares of the company for $3.00 per share in cash. The $350 million offer follows rejected offers Sycamore previously made to acquire Chico’s for $3.50 a share and $4.30 a share.. . . more

Vision benefits giant makes a power play in physical store strategy

Chain Store Age
As the lines between health care and retail continue to blur, VSP’s newest deal is poised to give the company a strong foothold in the retail marketplace.

VSP Global, whose businesses include national vision benefits company VSP Vision Care, on Thursday announced that it will acquire San Antonio, Texas-based VisionWorks — the sixth largest optical chain in the United States. In addition to acquiring VisionWorks’ portfolio of more than 700 stores in nearly 40 states, the deal will be the single largest VSP network investment in the company’s 65-year history. . . . more

Rent the Runway, Nordstrom team up to boost convenience, attract customers

Nordstrom Inc and Rent the Runway announced a partnership on Thursday that aims to draw more foot traffic into the department store while making the clothing rental service more convenient so it can improve service to existing customers and attract new ones.

Rent the Runway “drop-off boxes,” where subscribers can quickly scan and return rented items, will be placed inside four Los Angeles-based Nordstrom stores, three of which are smaller “Nordstrom Local” stores billed by the chain as “a convenient drop-in hub” closer to residential areas.. . . more

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Target going back to school — in-store and online

Chain Store Age
Target is ramping up its school credits as it gears up for back-to-school shopping.

The discounter is opening a college section, launching an exclusive lifestyle brand for tween girls and expanding its popular Cat & Jack kids line.

Target said it will open in-store shops stocked with essentials for college living in more than 700 Target locations. The shops will feature items for bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and more. . . . more

Walgreens retail falters on lower tobacco sales

Retail Dive
Walgreens Boots Alliance on Thursday reported that third quarter sales rose 0.7% (2.9% in constant currency) to $34.6 billion, thanks mostly to its U.S. pharmacy and wholesale pharmacy operations. Retail sales in the quarter fell 2.9% year over year, reflecting store closures after the acquisition of Rite Aid stores, according to a company press release.

Comparable retail sales fell 1.1% in the quarter, primarily due to a de-emphasis of tobacco, the drugstore retailer said.. . . more

Gen Z shoppers big on brick-and-mortar — and BOPIS

Chain Store Age
Young shoppers like shopping in stores.

That’s according to a new study by Package Concierge, in which nearly 60% of surveyed shoppers aged 18 to 25 years old said they visited a mall within the last week, with almost 90% making an in-store purchase during their visit. Nearly one-third of those polled said they want items purchased within just a few hours, typically quicker than they can get them via online shopping.. . . more

Pier 1 Imports’ Q1 loss widens; ups store closures

Chain Store Age
Pier 1 Imports continued to bleed in the first quarter as its loss nearly tripled and its sales continued to slide.
Pier 1 ended the quarter with 967 stores, down 30 from the year-ago period. The retailer said it is looking to close some 57 locations in its current fiscal year, higher than the chain’s previous estimate of 45, which it gave back in April. . . . more

Amazon ramps up delivery wars in deal with Rite Aid

Chain Store Age
Amazon is launching its own version of buy-online-pickup-in stores.

The online giant is partnering with Rite Aid to launch “Counter,” dedicated counters in Rite Aid stores where Amazon customers can pick up their purchases. The service, which is free to all Amazon customers, is now available in more than 100 Rite Aid stores, and will be rolled out across 1,500 locations by the end of the year. Financial terms of the arrangement weren’t disclosed.. . . more

Can Kroger Catch Walmart in Online Grocery Sales?

Yahoo Finance
Walmart surpassed Amazon.com last year as the favorite destination for online grocery shoppers. Having added so many options for buying and getting groceries -- including a recently rolled out direct delivery-to-refrigerator service -- the retail giant zipped passed its e-commerce rival with 33% of online shoppers choosing Walmart, versus 31% for Amazon.

Yet in terms of actual dollar sales, Amazon is still the king, selling $8.2 billion worth of groceries online in 2018, a 12.5% increase over the year before, according to data from Edge by Ascential. Walmart was a distant second with just $2.8 billion of groceries sold, up 10% year over year. . . . more

It's time for Boston's Time Out Market. Here's a sneak peek inside

Boston Business Journal
A spicy crispy chicken sandwich cooled by nori buttermilk ranch dressing from Ms. Clucks Deluxe. Tony Maws' famous Craigie Burger alongside some of Michael Schlow's tagliatelle bolognese. A warm lobster roll from Saltie Girl, and a zippy coffee sangria from George Howell Coffee.

Those are some offerings of the new Time Out Market in Boston's Fenway neighborhood. Today, Boston becomes the fourth city in the world to host a Time Out Market. The market debuted in Lisbon, Portugal in 2014 and has last month opened in New York and Miami.. . . more

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Neiman Marcus goes 'dark'

Retail Dive
Neiman Marcus will stop filing public statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to a Form 15 document filed June 21 with the federal agency. The department store’s debt holders number "less than 50," according to the filing.

The department store, which two years ago abandoned an effort to go public, is able to "go dark" because its reporting requirements were tied to its debt, which was renegotiated earlier this year. Neiman Marcus didn’t immediately respond to Retail Dive’s request for comment on the move.. . . more

Out with the Old: Embracing the Value of Evolved Retail Centers

Store closures are an all too common occurrence nowadays, with announcements hitting the news cycle on a semi-weekly basis. Mass closings by household names like Victoria’s Secret, Gap, and J.C. Penney have raised concerns amongst developers that traditional retail centers are in danger of extinction as e-commerce gains steam. Fortunately, the outlook isn’t nearly this pessimistic. In fact, these empty boxes unlock potential for new e-commerce concepts and alternate uses and could be leading us towards a whole new era of bricks-and-mortar retail.

Shopping centers with compelling assets relevant to consumers will attract investors this year, according to Nuveen’s 2019 Real Estate Outlook, especially properties like destination malls with experiential offerings. . . . more

How Apollo Salvaged a Grocery Buyout Gone Horribly Wrong

Deutsche Bank AG and its co-lenders were staring at tens of millions of dollars in potential losses.

The banks -- a who’s who of Wall Street’s top underwriters -- had promised to arrange loans to fund Apollo Global Management LLC’s buyout of discount grocer Smart & Final Stores Inc., which the private-equity firm planned to split in two.

But worried about razor-thin margins and intense competition in the industry, many investors had shown little appetite in recent weeks for the riskiest part of the deal -- a $380 million tranche tied to the company’s retail side. . . . . more

7-Eleven takes delivery convenience to new heights

Chain Store Age
A new on-demand delivery feature from 7-Eleven brings products to a variety of public locations.

7-Eleven is offering 7Now Pins, on-demand delivery technology that allows users to order products to locales such parks, beaches, sports fields, and entertainment venues. The proprietary hot spot technology was developed in house by the 7-Eleven digital team and has added more than 2,000 7Now Pins, or hot spots, to the 7Now delivery app.. . . more

Shoppers set to spend more than ever on Prime Day

Chain Store Age
Amazon Prime Day 2019 is looking to be the most lucrative shopping event yet — and not just for Amazon.

That’s according to a new study of U.S. and U.K. Prime members from Profitero, which revealed that the annual shopping extravaganza is gaining more steam with each passing year. Seventy-six percent of Prime members in the U.S. are planning to shop on Prime Day this year, up from 63% last year.. . . more

Consumer confidence drops more than expected, reaching its lowest point in nearly two years

A key measure of the American economy slipped this month after three consecutive months of increases as consumers saw the trade war with China as an increased risk.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index declined to 121.5 in June, the business research group said on Tuesday. The drop was more than the decline to 131.1 that economists surveyed by Reuters expected. . . . more

Target's Deal Day challenges Amazon's Prime event

Target is going head to head with Amazon's Prime Day this year by debuting an event call "Deal Days"-- and yes, it'll also last for 48 hours. In a bid to compete with Amazon for your hard-earned dollars, the retailer is also holding an online sale event from July 15th to 16th. Target even stressed in its announcement that there's "no membership required" to participate. Unlike Prime Day, it means, which is limited to Prime subscribers who have to pay a year-long membership fee that costs $119 in the US unless they're still on free trial.. . . more

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Private Equity Retail ‘Abuses’ Spur Senator to Plan Legislation

Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin is adding her voice to a growing list of politicians admonishing private equity’s stewardship of debt-laden retailers. And she says she is trying to do something about it.

“There are definitely active discussions” toward legislation that would address the collapse of struggling companies tied to buyout firms, Baldwin said in an interview Thursday following the release of a letter chiding Sun Capital Partners Inc. for its management of bankrupt retailer Shopko Stores Inc. “Legislation will be designed so this doesn’t happen again.” . . . more

Can a new owner re-write the story of Barnes & Noble?

Retail Dive
If the life of Barnes & Noble were a book, this is the part where the calvary comes riding over the hill or the White Knight charges in, after many pages of tension.

Eight months after officially exploring a sale, Barnes & Noble landed a buyer in June. The $34 billion hedge fund Elliott Management has already picked up a large bookstore chain overseas, Waterstones, and Paul Best, Elliott's portfolio manager and head of European private equity, said when the Barnes & Noble deal was announced that it, "demonstrates our conviction that readers continue to value the experience of a great bookstore." . . . more

Pet Supplies Plus Signs 22 Franchise Agreements in Early 2019, Will Result in 46 New Stores

PR Newswire
Pet Supplies Plus, the largest independent pet retailer known for its 'Minus the hassle,' brick-and-mortar customer experience, welcomed 46 new franchise store deals in the first half of 2019.

The newly signed stores will be developed across Texas, Florida, California, Michigan, Kentucky and New Hampshire.. . . more

Amazon unveils online beauty store for a very select group

CNN Business
America's convenience stores are trying to shake off their reputation as gas stations with hot dogs on rollers and Slurpees inside.

On Monday, 7-Eleven said it would start delivering to "hot spots," including parks, beaches and other public locations through its year-old 7-Now delivery app. 7-Eleven's move, which is similar to Domino's beach delivery launch last year, is the latest sign of convenience chains reshaping their businesses for the digital era.

Chains such as 7-Eleven, Wawa and QuikTrip are sprucing up stores, adding online delivery and offering craft beers and meal kits to woo customers. . . . more

Toys “R” Us reportedly set for small-scale comeback

Chain Store Age
Toys “R” Us is plotting a return to the U.S. retail scene with stores later this year.

Tru Kids Brands, which bought the intellectual property, including the brand names of Toys “R” Us, Babies “R” Us, and Geoffrey the Giraffe following the chain’s bankruptcy filing and liquidation last year, plans to open approximately six stores and an e-commerce site this year, reported Bloomberg. . . . more

Dressbarn announces first store closures, beginning plan to shutter 650 locations by 2020

Fox Business
Dressbarn’s “wind down” of its retail operation is officially beginning at the end of this month.

The retailer announced Friday it will be closing 25 stores across the nation by the end of June and at least three more stores in July. Dressbarn, which listed the stores closing on its website, plans to shutter all 650 retail locations by the first half of 2020.. . . more

Bookstores find growth as ‘anchors of authenticity’

Boston Business Journal
Corporate chains were once a threat to smaller bookstores, but entrepreneurs have found ways to thrive, including hosting events and adding nonbook merchandise like games and T-shirts. The American Booksellers Association, a trade group for independent bookstores, has grown to 1,887 members with 2,524 locations as of May 15, the highest participation since at least 2009, when there were about 1,650 indie bookstores, the group said.

Another challenger to traditional publishing, e-books, has also started to fizzle. Sales of digital books fell 3.6% to $1.02 billion in 2018, a third straight decline, while hardback sales rose 6.9% to $3.06 billion and paperback sales 1.1% to $2.67 billion, according to the Association of American Publishers. . . . more

Friday, June 21, 2019

Walmart Pays $282 Million to End Long-Running Bribe Probes

Yahoo Finance
Walmart Inc. agreed to pay $282 million in penalties and a Brazilian unit admitted to violating a U.S. anti-bribery law, providing a relatively subdued ending to a seven-year investigation that spanned the globe and at one point looked poised to yield record foreign-corruption fines.

In parallel announcements on Thursday, the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission faulted the country’s largest retailer over payments made to fast-track store openings in Mexico, China, Brazil and India. Walmart will pay about $138 million in criminal penalties and $144 million in disgorgement to resolve the SEC’s allegations.. . . more

Survey: Customers want leading-edge tech, do retailers deliver?

Chain Store Age
Retailers are overestimating the effectiveness of their customer-facing solutions.

According to “The Sci-Fi Shopper: How to Future Proof Your Brand for the New Consumer,” a survey of consumers and retailers from e-commerce software provider Elastic Path, retail respondents rated their offerings in “futuristic” shopping a 7 out of 10. Customers, however, rated them a 4.. . . more

Largest daytime cafe poised for rapid expansion

Chain Store Age
A restaurant concept that specializes in upscale breakfast, brunch and lunch and closes at 2 p.m. is on the move.

Another Broken Egg Café announced it recently signed nine new franchise agreements, resulting in the development of 28 new units in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Kansas and Texas. The company, which currently operates 68 locations in 12 states, has set a goal of 300 units by 25.. . . more

Amazon reprises dorm shopping deals

Retail Dive
Amazon on Thursday announced that it's reprising its "Off-to-College store," a curated page of dorm room and class essentials, plus apparel and electronics.

Prime Student members will get special deals while the store is up, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive. Amazon will also announce special prices daily.. . . more

Five retailers among 100 best CEOs in new survey

Chain Store Age
Charles C. Butt, CEO of H-E-B, took the No. 2 spot on Glassdoor’s Employees’ Choice Awards, honoring the top 100 CEOs in 2019 in the U.S. Butt earned a 99% approval rating based on employee ratings.

Only one other retailer cracked the top 10: Hubert Joly, who stepped down as chief executive of Best Buy on June 11 to transition to the role of executive chairman. Joly, at No. 10, had a 97% rating) The other retailers who make the top 100 were Costco’s Craig Jelinek (No. 42), Wegman Food Markets’ Coleen Wegman (No. 52) and Trader Joe’s Dan Bane (No. 93).. . . more

Retailers J.C.Penney, Macy's oppose proposed tariffs on apparel, footwear

Department store operators J.C. Penney Co Inc and Macy’s Inc have opposed U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposal to include apparel and footwear among the Chinese goods targeted for tariffs.

The companies warned that U.S. consumers would have to pay more as they would not be able to quickly shift sourcing from China for items listed in separate letters dated June 17 and posted online to the U.S Trade Representative.. . . more

Panera Is Testing A Dinner Menu With Rice Bowls, Artisan Flatbreads, And Hot Sandwiches

Anyone who has eaten at Panera Bread knows the joy that is eating a hot bowl of the mac and cheese, whether it's for breakfast (respect), lunch, or dinner. While said dish is undeniably the best on the menu (don't @ me), Panera has some delicious new options coming to an all-new dinner-centric menu.

Featuring hearty, wholesome, and homemade meal choices, Panera's new dinner menu will feature ten hand-crafted items available to order from 4:30 to 10 p.m. daily, beginning in Lexington, KY, and Providence, RI, in September 2019.. . . more

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Lululemon shutters men's only stores

Retail Dive
Lululemon closed its two men's only stores in the fourth quarter, in SoHo and Toronto, a company spokesperson told Retail Dive in an emailed statement. The SoHo men's store was consolidated with two other locations to form a larger "experiential location" on Broadway.

When asked about future men's only locations, the spokesperson said the company was "focused on our co-located strategy," and noted that the men's business has been experiencing growth, including a comps rise of 26% in Q1 and revenue growth of 33%.. . . more

New department store concept to open its doors in Manhattan

Chain Store Age
Neighborhood Goods is bringing its department store of the future model to the Big Apple.

The company announced it will open its second location to date, in Manhattan’s Chelsea Market. Opening in fall 2019, the store will feature its own restaurant concept specific to the locale and an ever-changing selection of brands and products relevant to the New York market.. . . more

Sycamore lowers bid for Chico’s FAS — again

Chain Store Age
A buyout offer for Chico’s FAS has gone lower for the second time.

Sycamore Partners has revised its buyout offer for the struggling women’s apparel retailer to $3.00 a share, or $350 million, in cash as the chain continues to battle sliding sales. In May, Chico’s rejected an offer from Sycamore for $3.50 per share after previously having turned down its offer of $4.30 per share. . . . more

Amazon drones may do more than deliver

Chain Store Age
The 1982 Alan Parsons Project classic “Eye in the Sky” might be a good theme song for Amazon’s planned drone fleet.

According to The Telegraph, Amazon has filed for a U.S. patent on “surveillance as a service” technology that would monitor customer homes from its delivery drones. The drones would film and record customer homes as they passed overhead, looking for signs of break-ins, vandalism, or other problems. Anything suspicious would be photographed and/or recorded and sent to the customer and local police.. . . more

Can James Daunt Save Barnes & Noble from Oblivion?

U.K.-based hedge fund Elliott Advisors announced earlier this month that it will acquire the flailing Barnes & Noble bookstore chain in an all-cash transaction valued at $683 million, including debt. That breaks down to $6.50 per share.

The once-powerhouse U.S. bookseller will now become private after being publicly-traded since 1993. Elliott also owns Waterstones, Britain’s biggest bookstore chain, which it acquired in June 2018. This new deal brings together the largest booksellers in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Barnes & Noble operates 627 U.S. locations and Waterstones has 293 bookshops in the UK, Ireland, The Netherlands and Belgium.. . . more

Apple Is Partnering With Best Buy for Repairs. Is That Enough to Fix Consumers' Complaints?

Apple announced Wednesday that it’s adding Best Buy retailers to its previously-exclusive list of authorized repair locations.

The facts of the exchange are simple: Nearly 1,000 Best Buy locations can now offer Apple-certified repairs with an Apple-certified technician. This brings the number of the third-party repair locations to 1,800, a figure that doesn’t include the just under 300 U.S. Apple Store locations.. . . more

People thought Hubert Joly was ‘crazy or suicidal’ for taking the job as Best Buy CEO. Then he ushered in its turnaround

When Hubert Joly took on the CEO role at Best Buy in 2012, it was being pummeled by Amazon. Naysayers had all but written off the company. Then, he ushered in one of the greatest revivals retail has seen over the past decade.

By the time Joly announced he was stepping down as CEO in April, Best Buy had achieved same-store sales growth for the past eight quarters. By the latest fiscal year, it had already achieved the financial targets it set for fiscal 2021. . . . more

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Sam’s Club associates in need of info can go ask Sam

Chain Store Age
Whether they want to remember what the dormouse said or check store inventory levels, Sam’s Club employees can “Ask Sam.”

The Walmart warehouse club subsidiary recently rolled out Ask Sam, a voice-responsive app that acts as a digital assistant when associates ask questions on their mobile device. This app is now available to all associates in the chain’s nearly 600 stores nationwide.. . . more

Backstage and Story are very pretty. But, will they lure shoppers to Macy's?

Retail Dive
Macy's most recent earnings had mixed results. While revenue dipped slightly to $5.5 billion from $5.54 in the year-ago quarter, the company landed its sixth consecutive quarter of comparable sales growth, and pointed to mobile as its "fastest-growing channel."

The department store seems to be self aware and is making decisions to shake itself up and attempt to vary its retail strategy. Two of the most notable efforts are the addition of the narrative-driven, rotating, in-store retail space Story, and the retailer's off-price efforts via the Macy's Backstage concept.. . . more

Barnes & Noble narrows Q4 loss and swings to profit for full year amid falling sales

Chain Store Age
Barnes & Noble reported mixed results for its fourth quarter and full year as it prepares to go private.

The struggling bookseller reported a net loss of $18.7 million for its fiscal fourth quarter ended April 27 compared to a loss of $21.1 million.

Sales totaled $755.4 million, down from $786.1 million last year. Same-store sales fell 2.3%.. . . more

BJ’s launches popular shipping option – with a price

Chain Store Age
BJ’s Wholesale Club is the latest retailer to offer two-day shipping.

BJ’s is quietly introducing a new program called BJ’s Stocked, which delivers essential products in two days. So far, the retailer has only announced BJ’s Stocked via social media and a banner ad on its homepage.

Eligible items include canned and packaged food, candy and cookies, health and beauty, cleaning, and baby and kids. Orders must be placed by 1 p.m. for two-day delivery.. . . more

Target CEO Brian Cornell reiterates forecast, apologizes to customers for weekend outages

Target CEO Brian Cornell apologized to customers for a disappointing weekend after the company experienced outages that shut down its cash registers and credit-card processors for several hours.

There was no impact to the company’s earnings forecast as a result of the outage, said Cornell in an interview on Wednesday with CNBC’s Becky Quick on “Squawk Box.” . . . more

Amazon adds more jets to its growing fleet

Seattle Times
Amazon’s fleet of jets is getting bigger.

The online shopping giant said Tuesday that it will lease 15 more Boeing 737s as it seeks to grow its delivery business and get packages to shoppers’ doorsteps faster. Amazon is in the midst of speeding up its delivery time to one-day from two for its Prime members.

Amazon said it currently has 42 planes in its fleet and will have 70 by 2021.. . . more

Fenway’s Time Out Market to debut next week

Boston Business Journal
Mark your calendars, Boston area gourmands: Time Out Market, a 15-vendor food hall and cultural market in the Fenway neighborhood, will open Thursday, June 27 at 7:30 a.m.

The 25,000-square-foot market is located on the ground floor of 401 Park, formerly a 1 million-square-foot Sears, Roebuck & Co. warehouse that has been repositioned by real-estate firm Samuels & Associates. . . . more

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

H&M's sales growth fails to ease investors concerns about margin pressure

Fashion retailer H&M reported sales grew for a fourth straight quarter on Monday, but also hinted it had needed to invest more to boost its online business, disappointing investors already concerned about margin pressure.

H&M, the world’s second-biggest fashion retailer, has seen profits shrink and inventories rise in recent years as its core brand has not kept up with the online shift and tougher competition, and not reacted fast enough to demand swings. . . . more

Rock bottom: Tracing the decline of diamond retail

Retail Dive
In 1948, De Beers launched its now-famous slogan, "A Diamond Is Forever." But for many diamond retailers, forever is coming to an end.

In 2018, the Jewelers Board of Trade (JBT) reported that 852 U.S. jewelry retailers closed up shop, on top of the 817 retailers that shut down in 2017. Even though new retailers are opening up, it's not enough to offset the closures. The overall jewelry retail industry is shrinking, as confirmed by Richard Weisenfeld, JBT's president, in a January 2019 interview with National Jeweler magazine. . . . more

The Case for Growing in Developing Areas

FSR Magazine
Real estate professionals often say the three most important factors in real estate are location, location, and location. This rings true in residential real estate—however, its impact may be even more significant in commercial real estate for certain kinds of businesses. Some companies may have the luxury of interacting with and serving customers online, but a restaurant is tied to its physical location. While there are certainly stories of successful bistros hidden away off the beaten path and cafe's that gain a large following in spite of being in a less than desirable location, the goal should be to find the most optimal location for the money a business has budgeted for rent/the mortgage. In a fully developed area, this may be relatively straightforward. In a location that has more development on the horizon, research may be a little more challenging. . . . more

How Much Value Is There in Ground-Floor Retail Space at Student Housing Properties?

Some student housing properties rent their retail spaces to national retailers like CVS or Target. But in other cases, retail spaces inside student housing buildings stand empty for years—unable to support even a pizza shop.

“Most ground level retail is a drag on a student housing project,” says Frederick Pierce, president and CEO of Pierce Education Properties, which invests in, develops and manages student housing properties. “But in the right location, retail, restaurant or food can be an asset to a project and can support credit tenants.”. . . more

Rothy’s, the women’s shoe brand with a cult-like following, is opening more stores

Rothy’s, the women’s shoe brand with an almost cult-like following, is making a bigger move into bricks-and-mortar retail.

On Tuesday, Rothy’s announced it will open five stores this fall and promises more are coming in 2020. The five locations will be in the New York’s West Village, on Boston’s Newbury Street, around Georgetown in Washington, D.C., and two in Los Angeles. The company said these are four of Rothy’s highest-penetrated markets for sales. . . . more

Giant Food president tapped to lead Stop & Shop supermarket chain

Boston Business Journal
Ahold Delhaize USA, the Dutch parent company of Stop & Shop, is tapping Gordon Reid as the new president of the Quincy-based supermarket chain.

Reid, the president of Giant Food, another U.S. supermarket chain owned by Ahold Delhaize, will start as the new Stop & Shop president in late July, the company announced Monday.. . . more