Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Starbucks posts strong Q2 growth, boosted by U.S. and China sales

U.S. coffee chain Starbucks announced Thursday that its net revenues increased 5 percent to $6.3 billion in the fiscal second quarter of 2019 over the same period of last year.

During the quarter, Starbucks’s same-store sales went up 3 percent globally, driven by a growth of 4 percent in the United States and 3 percent in China.. . . more

Retailers urge Congress to support bill to fix remodeling glitch

Chain Store Age
Retailers want Congress to pass a bill that would allow retail stores and restaurants to write off the full cost of improvement projects immediately.

On Monday, 872 business associations and companies, including the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, sent a letter to Congress urging members to support the Restoring Investment in Improvements Act, bipartisan and bicameral legislation that would fix a drafting error in the tax reform law that took effect in 2018. The error relates to depreciation rules is delaying millions of dollars in job-creating investments in stores and restaurants across the country.. . . more

Online ‘bride box’ retailer opens first store

Chain Store Age
A direct-to-consumer, made-to-order luxury bridal brand is looking to upend the legacy bridal industry.

Floravere has opened its first permanent physical location, in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan. The brand’s collection of gowns and separates anchor the space, which has a modern feminine look and contemporary sensibility.. . . more

With a bacon boost, McDonald's first-quarter earnings top forecasts

The Chicago Tribune
McDonald's turned to a sure thing in the first quarter, bacon, and it's paying off.

The world's biggest burger chain on Tuesday reported a first quarter profit of $1.33 billion. Comparable sales jumped 5.4% globally across all segments during the quarter.

At the beginning of the year, McDonald's Corp. offered bacon on anything customers wanted for an hour and it generated both hype and store traffic.. . . more

It's Not Just Amazon: Free One-Day Delivery Is The New Normal

Amazon may have scored points on Wall Street last week with plans to invest $800 million so its Prime member subscribers can receive merchandise in one day. But analysts aren’t concerned the e-commerce giant’s brick-and-mortar competitors like Walmart and Target, with hefty online businesses themselves, have been caught off guard.

Delivery is part of today’s heated skirmish for retail turf, and Amazon simply just made its latest move.. . . more

Neiman Marcus sales down as it considers sale of MyTheresa

The Dallas Morning News
Neiman Marcus said Tuesday that sales declined in its just completed quarter and it's considering the sale of its European subsidiary MyTheresa.

The announcements by the Dallas-based luxury retailer were made in a filing that also detailed the launch of an exchange offer for $1.62 billion of unsecured debt.

Neiman Marcus said sales are estimated to decline 1.3% to 1.9% in its fiscal third quarter that ended Saturday. The decline follows six consecutive quarters of sales increases. . . . more

PetSmart subsidiary files to prepare IPO

Chain Store Age
Chewy.com, the online pet product retailer owned by PetSmart, is readying to go public.

Chewy, which was purchased by PetSmart in May 2017 for about $3 billion in cash and lien notes in May 2017, filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. . . . more

Monday, April 29, 2019

Justice, Lane Bryant parent Ascena Retail Group at low ebb

The Columbus Dispatch
A big retailer with two nationally known brands based in central Ohio is in big trouble.

Share prices have plummeted, debt has skyrocketed, market capitalization has plunged and comparable store sales at one of its two national chains have declined precipitously.

No, it’s not L Brands. It’s Ascena Retail Group, the parent of Lane Bryant and Justice, both based in Columbus. . . . more

Washington Prime CEO: 'We are far from delusional' but retail sector not as bad as reports say

Washington Prime Group Inc. is doing just fine, thank you very much.

The Columbus-based operator of malls and shopping centers reported a 20% increase in leasing volume across its portfolio to 1.4 million square feet, with occupancy in its tier-one malls down a bit at 93.3 percent.

But what was on CEO Lou Conforti's mind was the continued media and analyst drumbeat of a looming 'retail apocalypse.' In a quarterly earnings report, he called out two instances, one a news report and the other a data analysis.. . . more

Amazon turns up the heat as it eyes one-day Prime shipping

Chain Store Age
Amazon Prime members can look forward to getting their purchases even faster.

In a move sure to rattle the competition, Amazon plans to cut its standard Prime shipping time from two days to one day, CFO Brian Olsavsky said during the company’s earnings call on April 25. The call occurred shortly after Amazon announced blowout earnings for its first quarter.. . . more

Are Outlet Centers Immune to the Retail Apocalypse or are They Next?

The outlet center sector has been one of the few bright spots in the retail industry, which has been in upheaval with retail bankruptcies and store closures.

Outlet centers boast brand-name retailers looking to sell overstock items and out-of-season merchandise to consumers who are looking for more bang for their dollar.

“It’s the best news in the brick-and-mortar category,” says Lisa Wagner, a principal with Outlet Resource Group (TORG), a Chicago-based outlet center consulting company.. . . more

Alaskan halibut provides a glimpse of Amazon’s strategy with Whole Foods

The Seattle Times
Amazon bought Whole Foods in August 2017 for $13.7 billion, its largest acquisition and an aggressive move into the grocery business.

The combination of the two has been steady, said Tom Forte, who follows Amazon as a managing director at the D.A. Davidson brokerage. In a few more years, he said, “You won’t recognize the original Whole Foods.”. . . more

Toys ‘R’ Us plans to return for the holidays with downsized stores

New York Post
Toys ‘R’ Us is plotting a comeback — but with stores that are much smaller than the ones the iconic retail chain operated in the past.

Tru Kids Brands, a licensing firm formed last year by creditors following the toy chain’s September 2017 bankruptcy filing, plans to open a handful of US stores in time for the holidays that will span about 10,000 square feet each, The Post has learned.. . . more

Americans Want Mixed-Use, And They Want It Now

The vast majority of Americans would at least consider living in a mixed-use community — a live-work-shop-play environment — according to a new study by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Fully 78% of U.S. adults surveyed are open to mixed-use, but younger Americans are most on board, with 85% of millennials saying they would consider living in such an environment vs. 71% of baby boomers. . . . more

Friday, April 26, 2019

Indochino in U.S. store expansion; lays groundwork for global growth

Indochino is expanding its presence in the Northeast and also looking overseas for growth.

The made-to-measure menswear retailer will open three stores in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, this year and into 2020, adding to the brand’s growing retail presence across North America. Indochino will open its 44th location on April 26, in downtown Greenwich, Conn. The new store will have Indochino’s signature high-tech-meets-high-touch feel, and feature high ceilings, large windows, and a lounge area where customers can relax and enjoy a coffee before designing their one-of-a-kind garments. . . . more

Blaze Pizza is Fire’d Up For Growth in Washington DC

Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, the recognized world leader in fast artisanal pizza, announced today its franchise growth strategy targeting Washington DC, northern Virginia and parts of Maryland. Blaze Pizza’s development team is hosting an exclusive discovery dinner in Fairfax, Virginia on Friday, April 26 for individuals interested in learning more about the franchise opportunity. Individuals interested in attending should email Carolyne Canady at carolyne@Blazepizza.com to get the full details on the dinner. . . . more

Gazit Horizons buys retail center near Faneuil Hall for $82M

Gazit Horizons Inc. has acquired Marketplace Center, a 62,000-square-foot retail property featuring shops including Ann Taylor Loft, Banana Republic and Gap, among others, for $81.8 million.. . . more

Eight Operating Cost Rent Issues for Restaurant Tenants

Restaurant tenants are rarely happy with their operating costs; at best, they’re ambivalent to them and, at worst, they’re upset with them. The two issues that most upset restaurant tenants are ever-increasing operating costs and the landlord’s lack of attention to fully maintaining the commercial property. . . more

Fleming's Seizes the Fine-Dining Opportunity

Outback Steakhouse’s resurgence has, rightfully so, garnered its share of headlines. The brand is riding an eight-quarter run of positive same-store sales. Its fiscal 2018 jump of 4 percent was Outback’s best annual comp result in six years. Naturally, this led to something few casual brands in today’s overcrowded climate can boast: Growth. Dave Deno, who recently took over the Bloomin’ Brands CEO role from Liz Smith, said last quarter there’s room for at least 50 more incremental Outbacks in the U.S. to add to the chain’s 733-unit footprint. But a less publicized opportunity is quietly forming at Bloomin’s smallest chain—Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. . . . more

Twin Peaks Reports Impressive Start to 2019

Twin Peaks kicked off 2019 with a steady increase in sales and traffic in addition to the successful debut of several innovative new menu items. . . more

Boston's Wants to Put 'Dough' Back in Franchisees' Hands

The franchisee-franchisor relationship runs deep at Boston’s. The pizza chain, whose parent company has a long history of success in Canada, believes it can reach similar heights in the U.S. by leaning on its operators. As a majority-franchised chain—out of its 22 locations, there are only two corporate restaurants—anything the brand decides has a major ground-level impact. . . . more

CVS to open ‘hundreds’ of SmileDirect in-store shops

CVS is partnering with SmileDirectClub to bring its “teledentistry” service to the physical space.

After a successful pilot in 13 CVS Pharmacy stores, SmileDirectClub will open “SmileShops” in hundreds of the drugstore retailer’s locations in 2019, with the potential to expand to more than a 1,000 stores during the next several years. . . . more

Seaport Developers Have A Business Lesson For Their Biggest Critics

Critics have lobbed “bad architecture” and “poor planning” critiques at Seaport developers for years, and Thursday morning, the developers responded: It could have been much worse. . . more

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Mother’s Day expected to deliver highest consumer spending to date

Mother’s Day spending is expected to total a record $25 billion this year, up from $23.1 billion in 2018, according to the annual survey released today by the National Retail Federation. A total 84 percent of U.S. adults are expected to celebrate in honor of their mothers and other women in their lives. . . . more

The fastest-growing e-commerce retailer in North America is…

A bed-in-a-box company that offers consumers a one-year “try out” trial period takes top honors when it comes to year-over-year growth in an annual report of online retailers. . . . more

Lululemon plans push into footwear, more ‘agile’ store formats

A surging Lululemon Athletica is looking for new markets to conquer.

The athletic apparel retailer on Wednesday detailed an ambitious five-year growth plan that includes doubling its men’s and online revenues and quadrupling its international growth during the next five years. The company is also getting into the footwear business. . . . more

Great Harvest to expand in five U.S. states

Great Harvest Bread Co. has signed five franchise agreements with new and existing franchisees that will bring the bakery-cafe concept to the additional markets of Grand Junction, Colo.; Northern Dallas; Long Island, N.Y.; Tulsa and Broken Arrow, Okla.; and Red Bank and Asbury Park, N.J. . . . more

By CHLOE to 'Take It to the Next Level' By More than Tripling Its U.S. Presence, CEO Says

Vegan fast-casual restaurant By CHLOE plans to capitalize on growing interest in vegan and plant-based diets by more than tripling the amount of locations it operates in the U.S. and abroad. CEO Patrik Hellstrand said By CHLOE is "ready to take it to the next level" by gearing up to expand from 13 to more than 50 locations in the U.S. by 2023, as well as licensing locations internationally in Canada, the UK, and the Middle East.. . . more

Retail sales strong in March

Consumers were busy in March after weaker-than-expected spending in the prior month.

Retail sales rose 1% in March seasonally adjusted from February and 0.8% unadjusted year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation. The NRF numbers, which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which said that overall March sales were up 1.6% seasonally adjusted from February and up 3.6% unadjusted year-over-year. That was the biggest increase since September 2017 and followed an unrevised 0.2% drop in February. . . . more

Papa John's opens 2,000th overseas store as competition intensifies

Restaurant Dive
It doesn't appear that Papa John’s is going to rest on its international laurels anytime soon. Papa John's first opened internationally in Mexico City in 1998. It marked its 500th international opening in Turkey in 2008, and its 1,000th international opening in 2013. In the company’s press release, Papa John's COO Jack Swaysland said international development is the long-term growth engine for the company. . . . more

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

New generation Dunkin' to open as Pittsburgh region's first to drop 'Donuts

The new location aims to reflect the Canton, Mass. chain's focus on coffee along with confections.. . . more

The Bagel Table to Open Third Location at Boston Landing

NB Development Group announced the addition of The Bagel Table as the next retailer to join the Boston Landing community. The Bagel Table will encompass 1,650 sf on the ground floor of 80 Guest Street, home to the Warrior Ice Arena.. . . more

Office Depot is closing 50 stores — see if your store is on the list

Office Depot is closing 50 stores this year, the company told Business Insider. The office supplies company is closing stores under both its namesake and OfficeMax banners.. . . more

Malls Need More of These Kinds of Businesses to Lure Shoppers

Changes are afoot in shopping centers around the country, not only as retailers vacate stores due to bankruptcy or shrinking footprints but also as landlords bring in new businesses like fitness centers and co-working spaces to fill the empty storefront.

But what do shoppers really want to find when they make a trip to their local mall? According to a new report from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), the answer is often “something to eat . . . more

Gyms restore muscle, movement where retail giants have fallen

As shopping center owners see weakness among their retail tenants, many are turning to fitness gyms to beef up their portfolios, experts on the local commercial real estate market say.

As big-box stores close, many of them are being replaced by gyms, according to two Boston-based spokesmen for CoStar Group, a commercial real estate data firm headquartered in Washington, D.C . . . more

These drive-thru stores are made out of recycled shipping containers

Next month, a convenience store will open in Scott, Louisiana, that will be made from two repurposed shipping containers melded together and painted to look like a red and white barn.

The 640-square-foot store won't be near many peoples' homes. But it will be on the way for busy moms and dads driving their kids to and from school and oilfield workers heading to work -- and that's what matters to owner Robert Pressler.. . . more

David’s Bridal consolidates operations to improve speed to market

Changes are afoot at David’s Bridal.

The bridal and special occasion dress retailer announced the consolidation of its design and product development operations in an effort to provide faster product delivery. David’s Bridal will house all design functions within Fillberg LTD, its joint-venture partner in China. . . . more

Kohl's goes all-in on Amazon, bringing free returns to every store

Kohl's brought Amazon into a small number of stores almost two years ago. Now Kohl's is throwing its full weight behind the partnership.

The department store announced on Tuesday that it will accept Amazon customers' order returns for free — even without their shipping box — at all of its more than 1,150 US stores beginning in July. Shoppers can drop off their returns at customer service desks, and Kohl's will package and ship the items back to Amazon using its own logistics network. . . . more

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Foot Locker to bring new format to New York

Chain Store Age
Foot Locker is thinking big.

The athletic footwear and sportswear retailer is bringing its “power store” concept to Manhattan, opening a 25,000-sq.-ft. location in the city’s Washington Heights neighborhood this fall, reported Real Estate Realty. The format, which made its U.S. debut in January, in the Detroit suburb of Eastpointe, is designed to inspire shoppers and build community by serving as a hub for local sneaker culture, art, music and sports. . . . more

Tremont Crossing Groundbreaking Expected By Summer

A long-awaited transit-oriented development in Roxbury is finally ready to move forward. The Boston Planning & Development Agency gave final approval Thursday to lease nearly 8 acres of city-owned land at Parcel P-3, better known as Tremont Crossing. The long-term ground lease is expected to be finalized in the next two months, and site work on the $700M, 1.7M SF project across from Ruggles Station could begin by summer or sooner, the Boston Globe reports. The plan calls for a podium and two-tower design with more than 700 apartments, 405K SF of retail, 108K SF of office and a museum for African American culture. . . more

Summit Square Shopping Center in Warwick Sold for $8.24 Million

Boston Real Estate Times
KeyPoint Partners, LLC has negotiated the sale of Summit Square, a retail shopping center located in Warwick, Rhode Island. KPP Vice President of Leasing Don Mace represented the seller in the $8,240,000 sale. . . . more

Amazon Go makes it 11

Chain Store Age
Amazon’s latest cashierless Amazon Go location may face some local opposition.

Amazon Go has opened its third store in San Francisco, at 575 Market Street, for a total of 11 locations to date. The newest outpost of Amazon’s self-checkout convenience store concept, the space measures 1,750 sq. ft. and is next to a public transportation exit. . . . more

Smart & Final acquired in $1.1 billion deal

Chain Store Age
Smart & Final Stores has been acquired and the buyer is the retailer’s previous owner.

Apollo Global Management said it will acquire Smart & Final in an all-cash transaction for $6.50 per share in cash, with an enterprise value of about $1.12 billion. The private equity firm had previously bought Smart & Final in 2007, and then sold the retailer to Ares Management in 2012 for $975 million, including debt. Smart & Final went public in 2014, but remained majority owned by Ares. . . . more

Neiman Marcus acquires stake in one of retail’s fastest-growing sectors

Chain Store Age
The booming resale market has gone mainstream.

Neiman Marcus Group said it is acquiring a minority stake in Fashionphile, an online retailer of previously-owned ultra-luxury handbags, jewelry and accessories. The upscale department store company is the first major luxury retailer to directly invest in the fast-growing pre-owned apparel and accessories market, which is projected to grow from $24 billion to $51 billion by 2024, according to a new report from reseller ThredUP. It did not disclose the amount of its investment. . . . more

The Time Out Market Boston Vendor Lineup Is Getting Even More Exciting

Boston Magazine
An overview of the Boston dining landscape would not be complete without a charcuterie board or two—and Time Out Market will certainly have that. Beloved Cambridge wine (-and-more) bar, Bisq, is joining the lineup at the forthcoming Fenway food hall, bringing chef Alex Saenz’s salami, terrines, and curated cheeses. Time Out just announced a slew of additional vendors, including deli favorites from Mamaleh’s; George Howell Coffee; soups, salads, and juices by Revolution Health Kitchen; Roman-style pizzaby chef Michael Schlow; and locally made, artisan gelato from Hingham-based Gelato & Chill. . . . more

Monday, April 22, 2019

Lidl ready to disrupt NYC market

Supermarket News
The entry of hard discount grocer Lidl stands to stir up the already highly competitive retail grocery market in metropolitan New York.

Industry observers say Lidl’s acquisition of 27 Best Market supermarkets in New York and New Jersey will push incumbent grocery stores to trim prices, thinning already narrow profit margins. What’s more, they will need to accelerate efforts to add more fresh and prepared foods, bolster private brands and expand online grocery service. Those failing to address the pricing challenge and drive differentiation stand to relinquish market share.. . . more

Setting the record straight on the state of retail and store closures

It’s no secret that the retail industry is evolving rapidly due to shifting consumer preferences and new technologies. But the truth is, retail has always been in a constant state of change, and throughout all the industry’s twists and turns over the past several decades, retailers have evolved and thrived.

It’s important to look at the big picture. Retail contributes $2.6 trillion to annual GDP and drives the nation’s economy, but for years, we’ve seen sensationalist headlines about a so-called “retail apocalypse.” The latest wave of coverage was sparked by a UBS report projecting that retailers must close 75,000 stores by 2026 due to ecommerce. . . . more

Bob’s Discount Furniture takes second look at credit declines

Chain Store Age
Bob’s Discount Furniture is leveraging the omnichannel second look financing solution from Fortiva Retail Credit to approve more consumers for credit. Fortiva’s technology includes deep underwriting and a seamless omnichannel application process that provide a credit option between prime financing and leasing-to-own.

When a Bob’s customer is declined financing from a prime credit provider, their application is instantly processed by the Fortiva solution. Using data aggregation and consumer performance tracking, Fortiva Retail Credit can approve customers based on factors beyond their credit score.. . . more

After retail, these are biggest drivers to shopping center traffic

Chain Store Age
The food and beverage category and entertainment are taking up more and more of shoppers’ time — and money.

Since January, 81% of shopping center visitors have spent money on food and beverage services at a shopping center and 80% have purchased from traditional retailers, according to the International Council of Shopping Center’s Mixed Use survey. About two-fifths (38%) of U.S. adults now spend more on eating/drinking at dining establishments (including takeout). And 50% of all consumers want to see more dining options in centers; 40% want to see more leisure and entertainment options. . . . more

ESL Investments responds to ‘baseless’ allegations in Sears lawsuit

Chain Store Age
ESL Investments has responded to the federal lawsuit filed on Thursday by Sears Holdings Corp.

The suit that accuses former CEO Eddie Lampert, his ESL Investments hedge fund and others associated with Sears of stripping the chain of some two billions of dollars worth of assets even as the retailer racked up huge losses.

In a statement emailed to Chain Store Age, ESL Investments said it “vigorously disputes” the claims in the complaint, which repeats “baseless allegations and fanciful claims. “As we have previously said, the debtors’ allegations are misleading or just flat wrong.”. . . more

Bed Bath & Beyond shakes up board amid investor pressure, co-founders step down

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc said it appointed five new independent members to its board, replacing some directors including co-founders Warren Eisenberg and Leonard Feinstein, after facing pressure from a trio of activist investors.

Last month, activist investors Legion Partners Asset Management LLC, Macellum Advisors GP LLC and Ancora Advisors LLC urged Bed Bath & Beyond to replace its entire board and oust Chief Executive Steven Temares, citing the company’s inability to grow sales and margins.. . . more

Famed New Haven Pizzeria Expands to Watertown Next

Eater Boston
A nearly century-old Connecticut pizzeria that now operates 10 restaurants in the northeast will add two more in Massachusetts. Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana will bring its acclaimed coal-fired pizza to Watertown, joining the ranks of a few other forthcoming restaurants in the Arsenal Yards development. This is in addition to the already announced Frank Pepe location in Burlington, Massachusetts, which should open next month.

Frank Pepe opened its first Massachusetts restaurant in Chestnut Hill at the end of 2015, spreading the reach of its long-coveted pizzas closer to Boston. Founded by its namesake in 1925, Frank Pepe is considered a New Haven institution, well-known for its white clam pizza. It’s one of several pizza — that is, apizza — mainstays in New Haven. . . . more

Friday, April 19, 2019

These 10 States Have Been Hit Hardest by Retail Job Losses

Footwear News
For millions of retail workers around the country, the past decade has been a tumultuous time, but as many analysts have noted, the so-called “retail apocalypse” has had a disproportionate impact on certain areas.

Low-traffic rural and suburban malls, for instance, have experienced mounting vacancy rates due to the loss of anchor tenants like Sears and J.C. Penney, while more profitable malls (which are often closer to metropolitan areas) have been able to hold on to department stores and attract interest from alternative tenants such as fitness centers and co-working spaces.. . . more

Food stamps recipients can now order groceries online for delivery

CNN Business
Walmart, Amazon and grocery chains like ShopRite hope to tap into a lucrative new market: Food stamp recipients who want to shop for groceries online.

For the first time, the US Department of Agriculture has given the green light for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, to use their benefits to buy groceries online and get them delivered to their homes, the agency said Thursday. . . . more

Vornado Sells Part of Prime New York Retail Portfolio

The Wall Street Journal
Institutional investors advised by Crown Acquisitions Inc. have agreed to buy a 47.2% stake in the properties, which are located in the Fifth Avenue shopping district and on Broadway in Times Square, Vornado said Thursday.

Vornado will retain a 51% stake in the assets. The portfolio includes 489,000 square feet of street-level retail. The investors that are acquiring the property will pay $1.31 billion for their stake.. . . more

Ruth’s Chris picks Somerville for third Mass. location

Boston Business Journal
Ruth’s Chris Steak House plans to open its third Massachusetts location at Somerville’s Assembly Row.

The restaurant will span 8,100 square feet and seat 240, with a 900-square-foot outdoor patio that will seat up to 50, at the base of Partners HealthCare’s administrative offices.. . . more

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Survey reveals the top feature that attracts shoppers to physical stores

Chain Store Age
It’s still all about the price when shopping brick-and-mortar.

The number one factor that will draw customers to a physical store is price, according to “Analogue to Automated: Retail in the Connected Age,” a survey of 4,811 consumers and 1,000 retailers across 10 countries from Displaydata and Planet Retail. Specifically:

• 80% of shopper respondents say price is the number one factor for making an in-store purchase. . . . more

Inside Giant Food’s updated store format

ChainStore Age
Giant Food is showing off a new look.

The regional grocer unveiled an updated design at its new store in Olney, Md. With 40,270 sq. ft. of selling space, the supermarket features a new layout and décor designed to make navigating the space clear and simple.

The new Giant boasts a larger health and beauty department, enhanced hot food offerings, full gourmet cheese shop, expanded produce and natural food offerings, sushi bar, full-service meat, seafood, bakery, and floral departments, and both dairy as well as frozen kosher food sections.. . . more

Sears sues Eddie Lampert; claims he stripped chain of $2 billion in assets

Chain Store Age
Sears Holdings Corp. on Thursday filed a blockbuster federal lawsuit that essentially claims former CEO Eddie Lampert drove the company into bankruptcy, by siphoning off the company’s assets and preventing it from being able to pay off debts.

The suit accuses Lampert, his ESL Investments hedge fund and others associated with Sears and ESL — including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a former investor and executive at ESL — of stripping the chain of billions of dollars worth of assets even as the retailer racked up huge losses. . . . more

Aldi and Kohl's set to benefit from combo stores, report says

Retail Dive
A partnership between Aldi and Kohl's could drive increased traffic to both stores, according to a recent survey. The first location in the tie-up, under which Aldi builds separate stores next to right-sized Kohl's locations, opened earlier this year in Waukesha, Wisconsin. The retailers have said they could open as many as ten of these combo stores.

Sixty-eight percent of consumers polled by market research firm Field Agent said they would very likely shop both sides of Aldi and Kohl's combo store partnership in the same trip. About 90% of the 3,000 consumers surveyed said they would be at least moderately likely to shop at both the grocery store and the department store, while 38% said they would be "completely" likely to do so.. . . more

Regional grocers tops in customer satisfaction

Chain Store Age
National grocers are not at the top of the list when it comes to customer satisfaction — with one exception.

That’s according to the latest Consumer Reports ratings of grocery stores and supermarkets in which five regional supermarkets shared top honors for customer satisfaction. They are: Central Market; Wegmans Food Markets; Heinen’s Fine Foods; Gelson’s Markets; and Market Basket. Trader Joe’s is the only national chain to earn CR’s top overall satisfaction score.. . . more

Pier 1 weighs store closings

Chain Store Age
Pier 1 got no relief in its fourth quarter as the chain reported weak results and suggested that it could close up to 15% of its stores if certain targets are not met. It also announced the departure of its CFO.

Pier 1’s net sales fell 19.5% to $412.5 million in the quarter ended March 3, missing estimates. Same-store sales decreased 13.7% compared to the 13-week period of fiscal 2018. The company estimated that the shift of certain holiday selling days, which were not included in this year’s fiscal fourth quarter, negatively impacted fourth quarter fiscal 2019 company comparable sales by approximately 750 basis points.. . . more

Retail sales post biggest gain in 1 ½ years, point to rebounding economy

Sales at U.S. retailers surged in March by the most in a year and a half, the latest in a string of reports suggesting the economy is firming up after a soft spell of growth earlier in the year.

Retail sales soared 1.6% last month, the government said Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch expected sales to climb 1.1%.. . . more

$30M downtown food hall will feature pizza, sushi and more

Boston Business Journal
High Street Place, the $30 million food hall coming to the atrium connecting 160 Federal St. and 100 High St. in downtown Boston, has named its first slate of food and beverage vendors, including two concepts from celebrity chef Tiffani Faison and the first brick-and-mortar location for a popular Mexican food truck.

Architecture firm Gensler and Philadelphia-based Groundswell Design Group designed the 20,000-square-foot space, which will feature 20 vendors when it opens this fall. The food hall is one of several coming to Greater Boston, including Time Out Market in the Fenway neighborhood and a 22,000-square-foot food hall at The Hub on Causeway. . . . more

Despite ‘Retail Apocalypse,’ U.S. Grocery Store Openings Jumped 30 Percent in 2018

While a new report by investment firm USB estimates 75,000 more U.S. stores could close by 2026 as the shift to online shopping expands, it appears that the grocery sector continues bucking that trend.

The report points to future closings of apparel stores, consumer electronics retailers and home furnishing stores, noting that online sales are expected to make up 26 percent of all retail sales in 2026, up from about 16 percent today.

However, new grocery store openings increased by 30 percent in 2018 over 2017, with more than 17 million sq. ft. of new space added to the market, according to a recent report by real estate services firm JLL.. . . more

Any Takers for Toys R Us Space Yet?

KeyPoint Partners
It seems that, on an annual basis, we see another national big box chain fall to online competition, high debt, and, in some cases, mismanagement. Go back a decade or more and the list becomes extensive: Circuit City, Linens ‘N Things, Borders, Comp USA, Mervyn’s, Bombay, Filene’s Basement, Sports Authority, Mill Stores, Building 19…have we missed any? This means that every year the real estate industry is searching for replacements, sometimes successfully – and other times not.

The latest liquidation casualty is Toys R Us. Along with Babies R Us stores, this chain vacated 30 stores and more than 1.0 million square feet of retail space across the three regions covered by KeyPoint Partners’ proprietary GRIID: Eastern Massachusetts/Greater Boston, Southern New Hampshire, and Greater Hartford. . . . more

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The most loyal generation is…

Chain Store Age
A new study reveals defining the “most loyal” generation of shoppers is not a clear-cut proposition.

According to “What do Americans think of loyalty programs” from online research platform YouGov, 64% of all U.S. adults belong to at least one loyalty program. But the rate of loyalty membership varies by generation. The most loyal generation is 55-to-64-year-olds and the least loyal is age 18-24 (the youngest millennials and oldest Gen Z). However, when 18-to-24-year-olds do sign up for a loyalty program, they participate more frequently than their older peers.. . . more

Diesel USA's Ch. 11 plan approved

Retail Dive
Diesel USA, which filed for Chapter 11 protection on Tuesday, attributed the filing to a decrease in wholesale orders, a "general downturn in the brick-and-mortar retail industry," expensive long-term leases, a decrease in net sales and multiple instances of theft and fraud, according to supplemental court documents. 

The company's reorganization plan includes relocating specific stores to locations with a smaller footprint, opening a temporary pop-up concept in Miami, launching new stores in strategic locations and a rebranding effort. It will also not pursue the renewal of leases for a number of underperforming locations, according to the documents.. . . more

Demographic shifts impacting food and beverage operators, real estate

Chain Store Age
Food-and-beverage operators and the real estate they occupy are in for some significant changes going forward.

That’s according to a CBRE analysis of U.S. consumer spending and demographic patterns which suggest a greater push for convenient, prepared foods, a growing millennial influence, and the emergence of inner-ring suburbs as the industry’s hottest market.. . . more

Retail expert: UBS store closing misleading, ignores industry trends

Chain Store Age
The recent headline-making report by UBS projecting that retailers must close 75,000 stores by 2026 due to e-commerce is misleading and ignores key industry trends.

At least that’s the viewpoint of Greg Buzek, retail analyst, IHL Group, which has predicted that online will be 25% of the total retail market by 2021, but that 80% of all of retail will still have a store fulfillment component. The firm said it took a hard look at the math and research behind the UBS report, which is heavily reliant on U.S. Retail Census data, and found it painted a misleading picture of the industry.. . . more

Godiva moves beyond chocolate to open 2,000 cafes

Godiva is rolling out 2,000 cafes over the next six years that will serve a complete menu of items like the croiffle, a croissant and waffle hybrid that’s stuffed with fillings like cheese or chocolate and pressed on a waffle iron. Other items include an expanded list of coffees and a new collection of teas as well as grab-and-go items like sandwiches and yogurt parfaits.

The cafes mark Godiva’s foray into prepared meals. The first one officially opens in Manhattan Wednesday and is part of an ambitious growth plan spearheaded by CEO Annie Young-Scrivner, who took over Godiva’s helm in 2017 after serving as a top executive at Starbucks. Her goal: to increase its revenue fivefold by 2025.. . . more

Kroger’s autonomous delivery cars latest salvo in Houston grocery wars

Houston Chronicle
Kroger, the nation’s largest grocer, has launched a self-driving grocery delivery service in Houston, the latest salvo in a hyper-competitive grocery market that has supermarket chains investing heavily in new technology to win over online shoppers.

Company officials on Tuesday showcased the first of dozens of autonomous delivery vehicles planned for Houston: Toyota Priuses outfitted with cameras, sensors and self-driving computer software. . . . more

Quincy firm buys Waltham Hannaford for $18.2M

Boston Business Journal
Cincinnati-based Phillips Edison & Co., a retail-focused real estate investment trust, has sold a 45,882-square-foot Hannaford supermarket in Waltham to Quincy-based real-estate firm The Grossman Cos. for $18.2 million.

The company has no immediate plans for any real-estate development at the site, company co-president Jake Grossman said. . . . more

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Retail apocalypse watch: Apple and Tesla won’t save dying malls

Fast Company
While Apple and Tesla are some of the hottest brands around, even they can’t stop the mallpocalypse. Not even Eataly’s promise of wine, cheese, and freshly made focaccia can get people to malls, it seems.

Analytics firm Thasos has just released a new report revealing that foot traffic at U.S. malls has been dropping since last August, save for a small uptick during the holidays, CNBC first reported. . . . more

Best Buy names new CEO

Retail Dive
Best Buy Co. on Monday announced that Chief Financial and Strategic Transformation Officer Corie Barry is on deck to succeed Hubert Joly, effective June 11, the date of the company's shareholder meeting. She will also then join the board, which will expand to 13 directors, according to a company press release emailed to Retail Dive. The company said it will conduct an internal and external search for a new CFO.

Joly, who also serves as Best Buy's chairman, will transition to a newly created position of executive chairman of the board, the company said. . . . more

BoConcept franchisee opens second D.C. showroom

Furniture Today
BoConcept franchisee and designer Tim Machenaud will open his second Washington D.C.-area store here this week.

The 4,500-square-foot showroom at 2001 International Drive in Tyson’s Galleria, is part of a larger expansion at the super regional mall as well as a rebooted expansion of the BoConcept brand in North America via franchisees interested in opening multiple locations. . . . more

Panera Bread upgrades breakfast menu with new wraps, coffee

Nation's Restaurant News
Panera Bread Co. is improving its breakfast offerings with the addition of three egg wraps, new bakery items and a revamped coffee program that includes a line of cold brew options.

The revamped breakfast menu, which also includes a new line of hot coffee, comes about four months after Panera Bread expanded its in-house delivery program to include breakfast. Since then, morning delivery has expanded from nearly 400 locations to 624 cafes, the St. Louis-based bakery-cafe chain said Monday. . . . more

Sears Hometown & Outlet stores discuss liquidation

HBS Dealer
Board members from Sears Hometown & Outlet (SHOS) stores met on April 15 to discuss the possibility of liquidating the faltering chain.

According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, meetings are being held to determine if the retailer will liquidate the Hometown segment of the business.

SHOS operates about 750 stores in 49 states. . . . more

Esports Lounges Might Offer Another Way to Drive Foot Traffic to Retail Destinations

The rise of esports—organized multiplayer video game competitions—will “certainly have an impact” on commercial real estate, according to James Cook, head of retail research at real estate services firm JLL.

As commodity retail increasingly shifts towards online, both chain retailers and regional malls are growing their leisure sections, specifically geared toward “competitive socializing.” Activities include mini-golf, darts and ping-pong, and the locations often serve food and alcohol. These kinds of tenants take up around 32.1 percent of the leisure market, according to JLL. Esports takes up around 7.1 percent of the leisure segment.. . . more

​U.S. retail stores’ planned closings already exceed 2018 total

Boston Business Journal
As the internet continues to change shopping habits, stores across the United States continue to close. Less than halfway through April, U.S. retailers have announced plans to shut 5,994 stores, exceeding the 5,854 announced in all of 2018, according to data from Coresight Research.

Retailers in good financial shape are paring locations as their leases expire, while brands like Payless ShoeSource and Charlotte Russe are filing for bankruptcy and shutting hundreds of stores within months. Payless and Gymboree — which both filed for bankruptcy this year for a second time — account for almost half of the announced closings.. . . more

Friday, April 12, 2019

Anchors away: Why grocers are heading to the mall

Retail Dive
The struggles of mall stalwarts such as Macy's, Sears and J.C. Penney could spell opportunity for supermarket chains. Just last month, beloved Connecticut chain Stew Leonard's began renovating an 80,000-square-foot location at New Jersey's Paramus Park Mall formerly occupied by Sears. 

A wide range of grocers, including Wegmans, Lidl, Whole Foods and The Fresh Market, have pounced on vacant mall space recently. Drawn by the prospect of high visibility, a destination location and generous enticements from landlords, these so-called "mall marts" have been cropping up across the country.. . . more

Sycamore Pockets $1 Billion From Deal That Amazed Wall Street

Sycamore Partners is under scrutiny after completing a deal that left even seasoned leveraged-buyout experts agog. On Tuesday, Sycamore pulled off a $5.4 billion refinancing of Staples Inc., which it bought in 2017, that funded a staggering $1 billion dividend to the private equity firm.

The dividend is among the biggest in recent memory, even in a world where buyout firms routinely extract large sums for themselves after taking companies private. . . . more

Rite Aid swings to Q4 loss; to stop selling e-cigarettes and vaping products

Chain Store Age
Rite Aid posted mixed results for its fourth quarter amid ongoing pharmacy reimbursement pressures and a reorganization of its top ranks.

The drug store chain on Thursday reported a loss of $273 million for the quarter ended, compared to a gain of $767 million in the year-ago period.

Net sales inched down to $5.38 billion from $5.39 billion last year. The company’s retail pharmacy segment revenues were flat at $3.97 billion. Same-store sales rose 0.7%, driving a 2.1% increase in pharmacy sales and a 1.9% decrease in front-end sales.. . . more

Women’s retailer to open 2nd CT store in Danbury

Westport News
Soft Surroundings is adding a second Connecticut store on May 3 at Danbury Fair mall, with the company selling women’s apparel, shoes, skin care products, makeup and home goods.

The St. Louis, Mo.-based company launched its debut catalog in 1999 and since has expanded to more than 75 locations, including in 2007 when it opened its first Connecticut location in South Windsor at the Promenade Shops at Evergreen Walk.. . . more

J. Crew is considering an IPO for its Madewell clothing brand

J. Crew is exploring a potential initial public offering for its faster growing brand Madewell, the company said in a release Thursday.

The IPO for the preppy fashion retailer could happen as early as “the second half of 2019.”

J. Crew said the move is a part of its initiative to “maximize value, position both the J.Crew and Madewell brands for long-term growth, and deleverage and strengthen the Company’s balance sheet.”. . . more

Bed Bath & Beyond plans to close at least 40 stores this year but open 15 new locations

USA Today
Bed Bath & Beyond, which also operates Buy Buy Baby, Harmon Face Values and World Market, announced mixed results during its fourth-quarter call with financial analysts this week.

"We expect to open approximately 15 new stores in fiscal 2019. This will be offset by a minimum of approximately 40 stores we expect to close," Robyn D'Elia, chief financial officer and treasurer, said during Wednesday's earnings call. "This number will grow unless we are able to negotiate more favorable lease terms with our landlords."

D'Elia said most of the "planned closures are for Bed Bath & Beyond stores.". . . more

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Amazon's Bezos challenges retail rivals to raise minimum wages

Amazon.com Inc Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos on Thursday challenged rival retailers to increase their minimum wages to $16 an hour.

"Today I challenge our top retail competitors (you know who you are!) to match our employee benefits and our $15 minimum wage," the billionaire entrepreneur said in a letter to shareholders.

"Do it! Better yet, go to $16 and throw the gauntlet back at us." . . . more

America’s Favorite Cult Grocer Tries Its Magic in New York City

While many grocery stores have folded—think onetime industry leader A&P or Chicago’s Dominick’s—Wegmans is going all out in one of the biggest and most competitive markets in America: New York City.

This fall, Wegmans will open its first big-city location, a 74,000-square-foot facility at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, in a long-ignored tract of the former military base called Admiral’s Row, where officers’ residences once stood. The move will be a big test of whether Wegmans can duplicate the phenomenal success it’s had in smaller locales in the crowded New York market.. . . more

Fred’s to close 159 stores; hires advisory firm

Chain Store Age
Fred’s Inc. is shuttering nearly 30% of its store fleet as part of its plan to turn around its ailing business.

The Memphis-based discounter plans to close 159 stores by the end of May, with the liquidation sales starting on April 11. Fred’s has partnered with Malfitano Advisors and SB360 Capital Partners to help manage the closings, which will leave the retailer with a total of 398 locations.. . . more

Amazon exec tells employees that Go stores will start accepting cash to address ‘discrimination’ concerns

Amazon Go stores, which let customers buy items without waiting in checkout lines, will start accepting cash, amid intensifying criticism that the company is discriminating against the unbanked.

In an internal all-hands meeting last month, Steve Kessel, Amazon’s senior vice president of physical stores, told employees that the company plans “additional payment mechanisms” at its Go stores.. . . more

Moody's downgrades L Brands' outlook on Victoria's Secret woes

Retail Dive
Moody's Investors Service on Tuesday downgraded L Brand's outlook from "stable" to "negative," with Moody's Vice President Christina Boni citing "the deteriorating operating margins and negative comparable store sales at Victoria's Secret for the past 10 quarters."

Moody's anticipates that L Brands, which "has very good liquidity and moderate leverage," can continue to generate around $375 million of free cash flow to reduce debt, according to a note emailed by Moody's to Retail Dive.. . . more

Walgreens Unveils Latest Primary Care Partner: VillageMD

Walgreens Boots Alliance is partnering with primary care provider VillageMD in Houston where clinics will be opened next to drugstores as a precursor to a potential national rollout.

It’s the latest test for Walgreens, which is already piloting urgent care centers adjacent to its stores in several markets and senior clinics in a partnership with the large health insurer Humana.

A national rollout is possible, though the companies said they “continue to explore expansion in Houston and other markets.” . . . more

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Walmart adds nearly 4K robots to stores

Retail Dive
Walmart's latest announcement to add nearly 4,000 robots into stores further adds to the retailer's growing emphasis on technology.

Throughout 2018, the retailer piloted autonomous floor scrubbers, shelf-scanning robots, FAST Unloaders and pickup towers in several stores. This comes in addition to Walmart's online grocery pickup bot, Alphabot, in collaboration with startup Alert Innovation, as well as mobile express Scan & Go and, up until January of this year, grocery delivery through Google Express.. . . more

Danny Meyer’s Fund Invests $15M in Dig Inn

Dig Inn, one of the original members of QSR’s 40/40 List of startup fast casuals, has secured $15 million in funding from Danny Meyer’s Enlightened Hospital Investments equity fund. The group was part of a $20 million total funding round for 24-unit Dig Inn.

Founder Adam Eskin said the investment would help the brand expand its Northeast footprint, including in New York, Boston, and a market entry into Philadelphia. It will also aid Dig Inn’s expansion of its delivery service, Room Service. Eskin said it would first serve downtown New York City, then all of Manhattan.. . . more

Rising gasoline, rents boost U.S. consumer prices in March

U.S. consumer prices increased by the most in 14 months in March, but underlying inflation remained benign against the backdrop of slowing domestic and global economic growth.

The tame inflation environment and moderating economic activity support the Federal Reserve’s decision last month to suspend its three-year campaign to raise interest rates. The U.S. central bank dropped projections for any rate hikes this year after lifting borrowing costs four times in 2018. . . . more

Macy’s is taking 36 of its stores and putting a new kind of store inside them

Macy's announced on Wednesday it’s adding 1,500-square-foot Story shops to 36 Macy’s stores across the country, including at its Herald Square flagship, as part of its grander scheme to divvy up some of its real estate and look for new uses to fill what’s now excess space, with more shopping moving online.

Macy’s hopes the new spaces, which will rotate inventory every two months and bring in different local brands through the course of the year, will encourage shoppers to keep coming back to stores. . . . more

Ikea Opens NYC Store for Urbanites Who Won't Assemble a Loveseat

There are no Swedish meatballs at Ikea’s first store in Manhattan.

Also absent from the quintessential Ikea experience are checkout counters, pallets of votive candles and the end-of-the-maze warehouse experience where shoppers load their purchases into their carts. In fact, there’s nothing to take home at all.

Welcome to the furniture giant’s latest realization that its business model -- one that’s grown revenue to nearly $44 billion -- needs to adapt from its do-it-yourself ethos.. . . more

Retailers try to lure customers with free Uber rides

ABC News
While shoppers are getting everything from morning coffee to complete work wardrobes delivered to their homes, some businesses are working with ride-hailing company Uber to entice customers through their doors.

Uber launched a voucher program Tuesday that enables companies like Westfield Mall and TGI Fridays to dole out free or discounted rides to customers, offering a way for retailers to counter declining foot traffic heightened by the growth of online shopping.. . . more

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Levi's will open 100 new stores over the next year

CNN Business
Levi Strauss plans to open 100 new stores over the next year as it aims to become a $10 billion brand.

Levi's made the announcement during its first quarterly earnings report since re-entering the public market last month. . . . more

Booming jobs market is leaving the retail industry behind

Though many American industries have ramped up hiring in recent years amid a strong economy and easier regulations under President Donald Trump, one sector in particular has lagged the rest: retail.

Since January 2017, retail has lost more than 140,000 jobs; the sector added to that in March 2019 with a loss of more than 11,000, according to Labor Department data. The sector is one of just two industries that have lost jobs over the last few years, according to data tracked by CNBC. . . . more

Fitch Sees 'High Losses' for CMBS If Malls Can't Refinance

Commercial mortgage-backed securities could see big losses if troubled mall loans aren’t refinanced before they mature in 2020, according to Fitch Ratings Inc.

The biggest risk is if the borrowers decide to walk away from the property in order to avoid foreclosure, Fitch analyst Huxley Somerville wrote in a research note Friday.. . . more

With Millennials In Mind, Outdoor Retailer REI Doubles Down On Rentals And Used Gear Sales

In the latest sign that sustainability is the retail industry’s big trend, specialty outdoor gear retailer REI is “significantly” expanding its rental and used gear sales programs and trade-in options.

While REI, known for its co-op membership model, has historically hosted in-store “garage” sales a few times a year to resell gently used products that customers have returned, the new initiative is taking that up several notches, with used product sales now to be held year-round both in stores and online, REI interim president and CEO Eric Artz said.. . . more

Don’t get too excited about those Whole Foods price cuts

New York Post
Amazon’s price cuts last week at Whole Foods — which claimed discounts of 20 percent on hundreds of items — amounted to a measly drop of 1 percent in the total bill for a typical shopping trip, according to a Wall Street analyst’s report on Monday.

That’s despite Amazon advertising a slew of deals for its Prime members, including slashing the price for a pound for organic strawberries to $2.99 from $5.99; charging $3.99 for a pound of heirloom tomatoes instead of $4.99; and cutting the price of a pound of Pacific cod fillets to $9.99 from $12.99.. . . more

75,000 more stores need to close across the US as online sales and Amazon grow

Clothing retailers, consumer electronics companies and home furnishing businesses will need to close more stores across the U.S. as e-commerce sales proliferate, according to UBS.

In a note to clients this week, the investment firm said “store rationalization needs to accelerate meaningfully as online penetration continues to rise.” Assuming online sales’ share of total retail sales in the U.S. grows to 25% by 2026, from 16% today, roughly 75,000 more retail doors, excluding restaurants, need to close, analysts Jay Sole and Michael Lasser said.. . . more

Monday, April 8, 2019

Friendly's closes 3 more Mass. restaurants, 20 others

More than 20 additional Friendy’s restaurants have closed, including three in Massachusetts, MassLive reports.

The shops in Waltham, Framingham and Holden join dozens of other restaurants for the Massachusetts-based ice cream company that have closed in recent years.

In addition to the Massachusetts locations, 14 restaurants in upstate New York, three in Connecticut, two in New Hampshire and one in Maine are also being shuttered in the latest round of closures, MassLive reported. . . . more

New trampoline park gets OK for W. Woburn site

Daily Times Chronicle
A new indoor trampoline playground and entertainment center will join with a fitness center to move into Horn Pond Plaza's vacant Toys R Us building on the West Side.

During a gathering of the City Council earlier this week, the aldermen in a 7-to-1 vote sanctioned the Winchester line shopping center owner's plans to lease the 60,000 square foot retail space to new tenant Launch Trampoline Park. Also as part of the proposal, fitness center operator Fit Factory will be moving into the adjacent Tuesday Morning space.. . . more

Duluth Trading sets store openings for fiscal 2019

Chain Store Age
Duluth Holdings Inc., which opened its first physical store in 2010, continues to expand its footprint.

The casual and workwear retailer on Friday reported a disappointing fourth quarter that missed Street forecasts and gave weak full-year guidance. But it sounded an upbeat note as it said it will continue to expand its omnichannel model in fiscal 2019 with the addition of 15 stores, more holistic efforts to engage customers across channels and the continuing expansion of its women’s business. The company ended the year with 46 stores.. . . more

Eddie Lampert’s ESL in bid for Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores

Chain Store Age
Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores said Monday it received a proposal from Transform Holdco LLC to acquire all of the retailer’s stock that isn’t already owned by Eddie Lampert’s hedge fund, ESL Investments Inc., and its affiliates, for a purchase price of $2.25 per share. (Transform Holdco is an entity of ESL.)

The retailer said that a special committee of independent directors concluded, after a review, that a transaction on the terms contemplated by the proposal wouldn’t be in the best interests of the company’s unaffiliated stockholders. However, the parties are continuing discussions regarding potential transactions.. . . more

Check out 10 fast-rising restaurant concepts

Chain Store Age
A fast-casual Mediterranean grill that lets patrons customize their offerings tops a ranking of emerging restaurant brands.

Cava Grill is No. 1 on data analytics firm Fishbowl’s sixth annual “Emerging Brands Report,” a listing of the top 30 emerging restaurant brands best positioned to succeed based on innovative approaches to food, service, atmosphere, and customer service. . . . more

Retailer Fred’s Hires Adviser as It Tries to Turn Around Business

The Wall Street Journal
Discount retailer Fred’s Inc. has hired a financial adviser as it looks to downsize its store footprint and turn around its business, according to people familiar with the matter.

As recently as this week, Fred’s executives have met with liquidation firms to discuss closing underperforming stores, the people added. There are currently no plans to close a majority or all stores, two of the people said.. . . more

Teens are spending $2,600 a year on food and clothes. Here’s where they like to shop

Teenagers on average are spending $2,600 annually on food and clothes, favoring retailers Lululemon, Ulta, Amazon and Vans, along with fast-food chains like Chick-fil-A and Chipotle, according to a new survey.

Piper Jaffray asked 8,000 teens, with the average age 16, across the U.S. where they were spending money; 54% of respondents were male and 46% were female.. . . more

Hot Topic Is Still Hot

The New York Times
Though Hot Topic has not publicly disclosed its financials since the private equity firm Sycamore Partners acquired it in June 2013 for about $600 million, the brand’s endurance in the narrowing market of juniors apparel suggests that the brighter, broader inventory is selling. (Sycamore Partners declined to comment for this article.)

In a 2018 report, the youth marketing research firm YPulse found that Gen Z and millennial shoppers deemed Hot Topic the top retail destination for “unique styles,” with Nike coming in second. . . . more

Investors’ Guide to Gen Z: Weed, Social Justice and Kylie Jenner

This is the year that Generation Z becomes the biggest consumer cohort globally, displacing millennials as a top obsession for investors trying to figure out how to cash in on their unique shopping, eating and media habits. While they might still be in school, they have spending power to the tune of $143 billion in the U.S. alone, leaving fund managers salivating at the chance to harvest some of that potential alpha.

Investors have always been interested in young consumers and how their habits might open up new opportunities, but much of the long-held thinking on college kids and tweens—invest in beer stocks or TV networks or junk food—don’t hold up today. Gen Z, roughly between the ages of seven and 22, were born after the internet went mainstream and occupy a world where marijuana is going legal. . . . more

Friday, April 5, 2019

Survey: The most innovative shopping generation is…

Chain Store Age
One generation is much more likely to use the latest shopping innovations, according to new consumer data.

According to surveys of more than 6,500 consumers commissioned by payment provider Blackhawk Network, Gen Z respondents are significantly more likely than any other generation to use the latest shopping innovations on a monthly basis or more. These technologies include voice shopping (20%), pop-up stores (21%), and virtual reality shopping (17%), compared to an average of 8% across generations.

However, millennials are slightly more likely than Gen Z to order items for delivery using mobile devices. . . . more

Walmart CEO: The American consumer ‘is in pretty good shape’ right now

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon hasn’t noticed American consumers pulling back on spending to start this year, despite some fear that’s been the case amid a tariff tiff with China and some Americans receiving fewer dollars back in tax refunds in 2019.

“I don’t know that I can call the whole year,” the CEO of the world’s largest retailer told CNBC’s Courtney Reagan Thursday afternoon from the Global Retailing Conference in Tuscon, Arizona. “I think ... the consumer is in pretty good shape. I think the customer is in about the same shape they were in [the fourth quarter].” . . . more

CVS Pharmacy ramps up Rx delivery

Chain Store Age
CVS Pharmacy is taking its prescription delivery service to the next level.

The company announced it is launching same-day delivery prescription, with the order delivered within hours. The new feature is in addition to the chain’s already existing one-to-two day prescription service available nationwide.

The new service, delivered by Shipt, is now available at 6,000 CVS Pharmacy locations across the country.. . . more

As Neiman Marcus Opens its First NYC Store it Seeks to Gain Time to Escape its Debt Burden

Dallas-based luxury department store chain Neiman Marcus opened its newest store on Manhattan’s west side in March and pulled out all the stops.

The flagship department store is part of a 1-million-sq.-ft., seven-story, glitzy shopping complex called the Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards developed by the Related Cos. and Oxford Properties Group. The store is part of the first phase of the $25 billion mixed-use new neighborhood.

Neiman Marcus occupies 188,000 sq. ft. on three levels and it’s the first-ever namesake store in New York City. . . . more

Plano-based retailer At Home may be exploring a sale

The Dallas Morning News
Plano-based At Home Group may be considering a sale of the company, according to a report from Reuters quoting people familiar with the matter.

At Home is working with Bank of America to meet with potential buyers who are drawn to the company because of its poor stock price, according to the report published Thursday. Shares fell more than 20% on March 28 after the company missed its fourth-quarter earnings forecast and warned about the first quarter and the full year.. . . more

Job market bounces back in March with 196,000 gain in payrolls

Job creation posted a solid rebound in March, with nonfarm payrolls expanding by 196,000 and the unemployment rate holding steady at 3.8%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

That was better than the 175,000 Dow Jones estimate and comes after a dismal February that had economists wondering whether the decade-old economic expansion was nearing an end. The unemployment rate met expectations.. . . more

Demy Martin sells Dunkin' franchises, launches Coolgreens in Mass.

Boston Business Journal
Dunkin' franchisee Demy Martin is divesting the last his stores and bringing a healthy, fresh lunch/dinner alternative franchise from Oklahoma to Boston: Coolgreens.

Martin had been thinking about switching gears and moving back to Weston when his daughter told him about Coolgreens, a small, healthy restaurant chain in Oklahoma, where her fiancee is from. He tried it, opened a dialogue with the owners about 18 months ago and struck a deal to open three franchises in the Boston area in 2019: Waltham, Quincy, and another location yet to be determined.. . . more

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Kay, Jared owner to shutter 150 stores

Retail Dive
Signet, which runs some 3,300 stores under various jewelry banners including Kay Jewelers, Zales, Jared, The Galleria Of Jewelry, H.Samuel and Piercing Pagoda, on Wednesday said it will shutter 150 underperforming stores during its current fiscal year — and that by fiscal year's end "it will have reduced its store base by 13% over a three-year period." The company closed down 262 during its just-completed full year, according to a company press release.

Same-store sales in the quarter fell 2% after a 5.2% decline the year before.. . . more

Amazon partnership delivering returns for Kohl's

Retail Dive
Hosting Amazon returns is bringing a return to Kohl's, according to data from Earnest Research emailed to Retail Dive. Comparing Kohl's stores in Chicago, where most locations are participating in the tie-up, to Kohl's stores elsewhere, Earnest found that "Chicago sales, transactions, and customer growth all outpace the same metrics nationwide for 2018," after the stores began taking Amazon returns.

In Kohl's Chicago operations, revenue growth tops 10%, compared to 5% elsewhere in the U.S., according to the report.. . . more

Target raises minimum wage to $13 an hour in tight labor market

Target Corp will raise its U.S. minimum wage to $13 an hour in June, from $12 currently, increasing its payroll costs and putting new pressure on rival Walmart Inc to attract retail workers in a tight labor market.

Target previously raised minimum hourly pay to $12 in March 2018 from $11. In 2017, Target, said it was committed to raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. The wage increase will affect “tens of thousands” of employees, a Target spokeswoman said.. . . more

Walmart in major revamp of online baby registry

Chain Store Age
Walmart is ramping up its efforts to attract new parents — and fill the void left by the exit of Babies “R” Us — with a digital overhaul of its baby registry.

The upgrade is focused on enhanced integration of Walmart’s baby registry services with its consumer app. For example, registrants can initiate returns online, add items in-store, share the registry with friends and family, and use Siri to open the registry. Meanwhile, gift-givers can use the app to shop the registry, search for in-store availability, and scan a store receipt to mark items as purchased.. . . more

Sears, after bankruptcy, is opening new stores for home goods

Sears is opening stores again.

The embattled department store chain, which has shut hundreds of Sears and Kmart locations over the years and recently got another shot at life after filing for bankruptcy protection in October, still sees a chance to be a shopping destination for hard-line goods like appliances, tools and mattresses.
. . . more

How Retail Real Estate Can Benefit from Online Sales Growth

While the continued growth of online sales has taken an obvious toll on the retail real estate sector, some industry experts argue that savvy retailers and landlords are finding ways to navigate the evolving landscape.

At first blush, the facts seem bleak. Pure-play ecommerce sales volume has grown almost 92 percent since 2013—about nine times the pace of in-store brick-and-mortar retail sales during that span—according to real estate services firm JLL. . . . more

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Staples in big brand revamp; rolling out more private labels

Chain Store Age
Office products giant Staples Inc. is getting down to business with a brand revamp that includes a big focus on its “worklife” positioning.

As part of the revamp, the retailer replaced its signature slanted L logo with a streamlined mark whose main component is an actual staple. The new modernized icon is meant to reflect Staples “brand evolution and the enhanced experience it is delivering to its customers,” the company said. It also is a more literal representation of the Staples name. . . . more