Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The biggest mall owner in the US could be the one to save retailers on the cusp of going out of business

The biggest mall owner in the U.S., Simon Property Group, on Wednesday said it’s considering more opportunities where it would invest in a retailer to help keep it afloat.

“I think it’s very possible — we’re going to be very smart about it,” Simon CEO David Simon said on a post-earnings conference call when asked if he would consider investing in more of the landlord’s tenants. . . . more

Gen Z to shop in-store for the holidays

Retail Dive
Gen Z is headed to physical stores for the upcoming holiday shopping season, with 55% saying they'll do the majority of their holiday shopping at brick and mortar shops, according to a Shopkick survey emailed to Retail Dive. Fifty-four percent of Boomers said they will do most of their shopping in stores.

Research of nearly 30,000 shoppers found that across all generations half will complete the bulk of their holiday shopping in stores. But 84% will turn to mobile devices before making holiday purchases for research, price comparison, reviews, inspiration and other insights, the study found.. . . more

CMBS Issuance Focuses on “Bulletproof” Retail Loans

Retail-backed CMBS loans continue to draw mixed reviews from lenders and investors. Where some see a ticking time bomb, others see an opportunity to invest in high-quality, conservatively underwritten retail loans.

There is no question that both lenders and investors are wary of the risks associated with retail. “Unless a property is really, really top notch and performing extremely well, it is a struggle to get financing,” says Manus Clancy, senior managing director and the leader of applied data, research, and pricing with Trepp.. . . more

Ulta Beauty to go big in Manhattan

Chain Store Age
The nation’s largest beauty retailer is coming to Herald Square.

SL Green Realty Corp. announced that Ulta Beauty has signed a lease for a 12,040-sq.-ft. store at 2 Herald Square. The store is likely to see heavy traffic: The 369,000-sq.-ft. mixed-use property is steps from Penn Station and has annual foot traffic that exceeds 100 million people. Notable tenants in the building include Victoria’s Secret, WeWork, and Mercy College.. . . more

Urban Outfitters takes on Rent the Runway

Chain Store Age
Specialty retailer Urban Outfitters is officially a member of the rapidly-expanding apparel rental club.

Initially announced in May, Urban Outfitters’ monthly apparel rental subscription service known as Nuuly went live on July 30. For $88 a month, consumers can select any six items from the retailer’s namesake, Free People and Anthropologie brands, along with third-party labels and one-of-a-kind vintage pieces.. . . more

J.C. Penney's top executive over stores and supply chain leaves abruptly as replacement hired

The Dallas Morning News
Michael Robbins, executive vice president, chief stores and supply chain officer, is leaving J.C. Penney effective Saturday. His replacement worked in the past with CEO Jill Soltau at the now-defunct Shopko Stores.

Jim DePaul has been hired to be executive vice president of stores. He has 25 years of experience, most recently as Shopko's chief operations officer over stores, supply chain and e-commerce.. . . more

Victoria’s Secret is spiraling down the drain. Here are 3 reasons why

Fast Company
Since 2000, Victoria’s Secret’s revenues had been climbing consistently, with a small blip in the aftermath of the Great Recession. But in 2017, the brand’s sales took a major tumble, with sales falling to $7.4 billion down from nearly $8 billion the year before. This is exactly the moment when the #MeToo movement took hold. The New York Times published its first exposé of Harvey Weinstein in October of 2017. This may have been on people’s minds when they went out to do their Christmas shopping that year. Over the past two years, the brand has not been able to climb out of this rut.. . . more

Chuck E. Cheese's Parent Company's Merger Deal Collapses

Restaurant Business
Chuck E. Cheese’s is not heading to Wall Street, at least not right now.

The owner of the pizza and games chain, Queso Holdings, has terminated its proposed reverse merger with blank check company Leo Holdings. That deal would have taken public CEC Entertainment, which operates Chuck E. Cheese’s and Peter Piper Pizza.

No reasons were given for the termination. . . . more

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

UBS: 'Off-price is increasingly competing with itself'

Retail Dive
Despite the closure of department stores and other apparel, footwear and home goods retailers, off-price's dominance may be waning, according to a note from UBS analysts emailed to Retail Dive this week. "The market views Off-Price as defensive and internet-proof," according to the UBS team lead by Jay Sole. "We think [earnings per share] will eventually fall short of market expectations."

The store count in the segment fell 6.2% year over year, "the highest rate in at least ten years," according to the report. "Yet, the consensus forecasts Off-Price EBIT dollars ([TJX Cos, Ross Stores, and Burlington]) to rise only 3.5% this year vs. its 7% 5-year average increase," UBS wrote.. . . more

Amid Reports That It Hired Debt Restructuring Advisers, J.C. Penny Insists It’s Just Fine

The embattled J.C. Penney Co. may be considering debt restructuring options.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that the retailer hired advisers to explore debt restructuring options that could potentially give the flailing department store chain more time to execute its long-running turnaround.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, the news agency reported that the retailer has had discussions with lawyers and investment bankers specializing in advising struggling companies on debt restructuring and other financial workouts. . . . more

Retailers Experiment with Mini Distribution Centers in Their Stores

An increasing number of retailers are experimenting with mini distribution centers in their bricks-and-mortar locations to leverage existing physical footprints and dodge record high prices in the industrial sector.

Along with retailers getting the opportunity to save on operating costs, retail landlords can also benefit from a mini distribution center on their properties. First, the concept helps landlords struggling with high vacancy for large box formats, as there are fewer potential retail replacements for the space than there were a few years ago. . . . more

Target adds new states, stores to curbside pickup

Chain Store Age
Target Corp. is putting back-to-school sales in its crosshairs with the latest expansion of its Drive Up curbside click-and-collect service.

Timed for the start of the new school year, the discounter is rolling out Drive Up to more than 300 new stores, making curbside pickup available at more than 1,550 stores total. As part of the expansion, for the first time Drive Up is coming to New England with the addition of stores in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, and New Hampshire.. . . more

Consumer confidence makes big rebound in July

Chain Store Age
Consumers regained their confidence in July, sending a closely-watched metric to its highest level this year.

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rebounded in July to 135.7, up from 124.3 in June. The sharp decline in June was driven by an escalation in trade and tariff tensions, according to the Conference Board.. . . more

J.Crew Group cut dozens of corporate jobs

J.Crew Group eliminated several positions at its New York corporate headquarters last week, as the retailer continues to cut costs ahead of a potential initial public offering of its Madewell brand. However, the cutbacks only occurred at the J.Crew brand. "As part of our continued work to strengthen J. Crew's business, we've reduced a limited number of filled and open positions primarily at our corporate headquarters," a spokeswoman told WWD on Friday. . . . more

Retail Landlords Look to Esports to Lure Young Gamers

The Wall Street Journal
A growing number of real estate owners are turning to esports arcades, lounges and even stadiums, hoping to breathe fresh life into their malls, hotels and other properties.

Esports arenas allow thousands of gaming fans to watch video content in-person, with even more watching online. Developers are remodeling convention centers by adding locker rooms, seating, broadcast studios, new fiber for high-speed connectivity and massive LED video walls similar to the ones at Times Square.. . . more

Monday, July 29, 2019

Amazon in Talks to Lease Former Lord & Taylor Building

connect new york
Although Amazon walked away from plans for a Long Island City campus, it still wants to grow its local presence substantially. Following reports that the e-commerce giant was considering Industry City in Brooklyn for a logistics hub, the New York Post reported that Amazon was in talks to rent the Lord & Taylor building in Midtown, which WeWork acquired in January.

Ahead of plans to go public, WeWork is scrambling to secure a commitment for at least part of the 800,000 square feet of office at Lord & Taylor’s former flagship on Fifth Avenue, the Post reported. “An empty, landmarked building on Fifth Avenue is not the signal they want to send to investors as they ready their IPO,” a source told the Post.. . . more

Consumers say brands not delivering on omnichannel experiences

Chain Store Age
No matter what age, gender or location, consumers around the world agree that physical and digital engagement is paramount for effective customer engagement.

That’s according to a survey by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, in partnership with Pitney Bowes, in which some 85% of global consumers said that a blend of both digital and physical channel experiences is the preferred way of interfacing with brands. At the same time, only 13% consumers said they believed that brands are fully meeting this expectation and delivering across both physical and digital channels.. . . more

J.C. Penney added to Fitch's 'loans of concern' list

Retail Dive
J.C. Penney is among the latest additions to Fitch Rating's "loans of concern" list, indicating a high risk of default on a $1.6 billion loan balance at the department store retailer, according to an emailed report.

In adding Penney, the ratings firm noted debt restructuring concerns, which likely intensified with recent reports that the retailer was working with adviserson its debt load.
. . . more

Can retailers break up with the mall?

Retail Dive
A lot of stores are leaving the mall these days.

Singer-songwriter Paul Simon made it sound easy. "Just slip out the back, Jack. Make a new plan, Stan," goes his 1975 ditty. "Just drop off the key, Lee, and get yourself free."

Supplements retailer GNC earlier this month did make it sound fairly easy to leave. The company July 22 said it would likely halve its mall presence in the process of closing down as many as 900 locations, most of them in traditional malls.. . . more

Top 10 Retail Center Experiences: No. 7 Chestnut Hill Square

Chain Store Age
In the 1980s, New England Development president Stephen Plumeri had an idea that the affluent crowd in Chestnut Hill would flock to a retail palace anchored by Henri Bendel, lined with marble, and staffed with doormen. They didn’t. The Atrium got sold to Simon, which eventually sold it and introduced a more classic Simon execution called The Shops at Chestnut Hill.

“There’s an attitude that says focus on fashion and deliver all the brands that she needs, but that’s not the case anymore,” says current NED leasing VP Manny Steiner. “At Chestnut Hill Square, we started listening to what people wanted.” . . . more

Flyfishing and kayaking trips help L.L. Bean, Orvis sell more gear and attract more customers

Outdoor clothing and equipment brands are expanding adventure trips and education programs to introduce customers to different outdoor activities.

After their first time participating in one of L.L. Bean’s outdoor discovery programs, customers spend 30% more with the apparel brand in the next year, the company said.. . . more

Why Whole Foods hasn’t satisfied Amazon’s grocery appetite

Boston Business Journal
In June 2017, Amazon barged into the grocery business by announcing a blockbuster deal to buy Whole Foods for $13.4 billion. The purchase catapulted Amazon near the top of the $700 billion grocery industry, and sank stocks of traditional grocers on fears that they would be outmaneuvered into oblivion. The memo and other big grocery proposals stopped circulating inside Amazon, as Whole Foods demanded everyone’s attention.

But two years later, instead of Whole Foods being the answer to Amazon’s grocery ambitions, it seems to have only whetted executives’ appetite.. . . more

Friday, July 26, 2019

DOJ announces agreement on $26 billion merger between T-Mobile and Sprint

The Department of Justice announced Friday it has reached an agreement on the more than $26 billion merger between T-Mobile and Sprint.

As part of the agreement, Sprint will divest its Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile and Sprint prepaid phone businesses. Sprint and T-Mobile will divest some of their wireless spectrum to Dish Network and make at least 20,000 cell sites and hundreds of retail stores available to the company. Dish will also be able to access T-Mobile’s network for seven years.. . . more

Where does J.C. Penney's turnaround stand? It's testing new ideas in Texas

The Dallas Morning News
J.C. Penney has time, options and skilled new management. But the company’s stock and corporate bond prices signal that the odds are stacking up against the 117-year-old, Plano-based chain of 840 department stores.

Can CEO Jill Soltau fashion a turnaround? Since she was hired nine months ago, Soltau hasn’t minced words while reporting weaker quarters that she inherited and saying “we need to move faster.” She also said Penney “has the capacity to deliver improved results.”. . . more

Tractor Supply Company Reports Second Quarter 2019 Financial Results

Tractor Supply Company, the largest rural lifestyle retailer in the United States, today reported financial results for its second quarter ended June 29, 2019.

"For both the second quarter and first half of 2019, the Tractor Supply team delivered a very solid performance. For the quarter, comparable store sales growth of 3.2% was driven by improvements in our average ticket and positive comparable transaction counts, along with growth across all geographies.. . . more

Walmart launches new store-to-store driverless delivery pilot

Chain Store Age
Walmart continues analyzing how autonomous vehicles can move groceries throughout its supply chain.

The discount giant’s latest pilot of self-driving vehicles in its grocery supply chain is a test of an autonomous vehicle from Gatik. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup specializes in providing autonomous vehicles for B2B short-haul logistics.. . . more

New York Doubles Down on Tracking Empty Storefront Problem

Take a stroll down Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, one of the most famous shopping thoroughfares in the world, and you’ll find the emptiness hard to ignore.

New York’s vacant storefront epidemic doesn’t end there: Walk one block east to Madison Avenue, and nearly 30% of all shops are available for rent, according to a report by brokerage Cushman & Wakefield.. . . more

Barneys begins to raise financing for potential bankruptcy

Barneys New York is raising financing for a bankruptcy filing that could come as soon as next week, people familiar with the situation told CNBC.

The company has been looking for a path to avoid bankruptcy to help cope with a liquidity crunch spurred by a rent hike at its Manhattan flagship. . . . more

Every Starbucks growth strategy is working

CNN Business
Starbucks has put several plans in place to accelerate growth, and they all seem to be working.

The company is aggressively opening restaurants, improving its technology, developing new products, and expanding its rewards program. The tactics are paying off: Sales at cafes open at least a year grew 6% globally in the third quarter, Starbucks announced Thursday. Net sales grew 8.1% to an all-time high of $6.8 billion. . . . more

Amazon’s profit, forecast fall short on big spending cycle

The Seattle Times Inc. projected operating income that fell short of analysts’ estimates, worrying investors that it’s returning to a big spending cycle to fuel faster deliveries in the face of greater competition.

The company reported second-quarter revenue increased 20% to $63.4 billion, Amazon said Thursday in a statement. Analysts, on average, estimated $62.5 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Seattle-based e-commerce company also said operating income in the current quarter will be $2.1 billion to $3.1 billion, well shy of analyst estimates of $4.34 billion. . . . more

Thursday, July 25, 2019

NYC may ban sale of customer location data

Chain Store Age
Retailers in New York City may soon have strict limits placed on mobile marketing efforts.

According to the New York Times, a bill introduced in the New York City Council would prohibit providers of mobile phones and apps from selling or sharing location data collected from users while a device is within city limits without opt-in permission. Fines could range from $1,000 for a single violation to $10,000 per user per day for multiple violations. Customers would also have the right to sue companies that violated the law.. . . more

The Second Lives of America’s Iconic Shopping Malls

Commercial Observer
Some malls refuse to die. Long after the department stores have been shuttered, parking lots overgrown with weeds, and the halls emptied of bored teenagers, wailing children and daytime walkers, some malls attempt to live on long past their heyday. Although “living” might not be the right word.

Instead, they’ve mutated.

Many retain something of their original form, with medical clinics and gyms for anchor tenants rather than the retail temples of yesteryear. . . . more

Prime Day v. Google Shopping – the results are in

Chain Store Age
A new study reveals just how competitive Amazon Prime Day offers really were when compared to Google Shopping.

According to official figures, over 175 million products were sold in 18-plus countries. Price monitoring company Minderest analyzed 566 products selected from Prime Day offers such as electronics, appliances, and beauty. Prices were compared with the minimum and average prices seen on Google Shopping in the U.S., the U.K., France, and Germany.

In the US, 81.9% of Amazon’s products were cheaper than the minimum price seen on Google Shopping. Amazon was, on average, 14% cheaper than Google Shopping’s minimum price and 29% cheaper than the average price.. . . more

UPS seeks FAA approval for drone delivery service via new subsidiary

Retail Dive
UPS is launching a new commercial, unmanned drone delivery subsidiary, Flight Forward Inc., and applying for FAA approval to scale it across its national delivery networks, according to a press release.

The company is requesting Part 135 FAA certification which legally designates a commercial entity as a certified Air Carrier and Operator in addition to removing other stringent operational restrictions such as bans on nighttime flights and requirements that drones stay within the line of sight of the operator. . . . more

Apparel Retailers Try Lending Clothes to Draw In Shoppers

While the apparel sector overall has taken a hit in the past few years, some retailers aren’t taking it lying down and fighting back with new strategies.

It’s been rough sailing for retailers like Gap Inc., Canada Goose, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Foot Locker, J. Crew and others that are reporting poor sales. Victoria’s Secret and Charlotte Russe are among companies shuttering stores. Dressbarn is closing all 650 locations. In fact, when looked at as a group, apparel retail earnings fell 24 percent in the first quarter of 2019. Up until now, the group had been growing earnings since the third quarter of 2017.. . . more

A 'troubling signal' for the economy is fewer goods being shipped across the country

USA Today
Here's another early warning signal of possible recession: Fewer goods are being shipped across the country.

Truck, rail and air freight volumes fell 5.3% in June from the same period a year ago, the seventh straight annual decline, according to the closely watched Cass Freight Index. That followed a 6% drop in May.

The persistent drops could portend trouble for the economy because shipments reflect demand for a wide range of consumer and industrial goods. . . . more

JC Penney is fading. Nordstrom is struggling. Walmart is thriving. That sums up what’s happening in retail.

Retail earnings overall this quarter aren’t looking good when compared with a year ago. A drop is being forecast for the industry.

And department store chains in particular are still struggling to grow sales, whereas Walmart and Target have found pockets of growth in grocery, through their e-commerce businesses and with their in-house brands.. . . more

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Malls are filling their empty spaces with doctor's offices

CNN Business
While mall leases for clothing retailers declined by more than 10% since 2017, medical clinics at malls have risen by almost 60% during the same period, according to Drew Myers, real estate analyst at CoStar Group. The growth of medical clinic leases at malls has been the "strongest among all major retail sectors over the past five years," he said.

Mall landlords are betting that when patients visit for a flu shot or eye exam, they'll shop around for clothes or electronics. Adding medical clinics also makes sense for mall owners because they draw in doctors, nurses and technicians every day who may shop and eat at restaurants, according to a May research report by real estate firm JLL. . . . more

Amazon has ‘destroyed the retail industry’ so US should look into its practices, Mnuchin says

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday the Justice Department is right to be looking into Amazon’s practices as part of its antitrust review of big technology companies.

“I think if you look at Amazon, although there are certain benefits to it, they’ve destroyed the retail industry across the United States so there’s no question they’ve limited competition,” Mnuchin told CNBC’s “Squawk Box. ” . . . more

Bed Bath & Beyond job cuts include COO

Chain Store Age
Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. continues its ongoing turnaround efforts with a cost-saving workforce reduction that includes some high-level executive roles.

The beleaguered home goods company said Tuesday that it has reduced the corporate workforce at its Union, N.J., headquarters by about 7%, including vice presidents, directors, managers and professional staff. As part of the realignment, Eugene A. Castagna, president and chief operating officer, has left the company, also as of Tuesday, and the role of COO has been eliminated. Job cuts were also made at select locations where corporate associates were employed.. . . more

UPS to get space in CVS, Michaels, Advance Auto Parts stores for package shipping, pickup

USA Today
UPS plans to add package-pickup-or-send sites to CVS Pharmacy, Michaels and Advance Auto Parts stores throughout the country.

The move marks the shipping giant's latest effort to compete with online giant Amazon and archrival FedEx in the rapidly shifting world of delivery.

It's especially aimed at customers who want the extra security of having a package delivered to a store, instead of their doorstep.. . . more

More online retailers will have to pay Mass. sales tax

Boston Business Journal
As part of the state budget passed this week, the Legislature required more online retailers to collect and hand over sales taxes for transactions in the Bay State. Lawmakers expect the change to bring an additional $42 million in tax revenue this fiscal year.

The new legislation expands the pool of businesses subject to the tax by lowering the revenue threshold. Going forward, online retailers that have annual Massachusetts sales of more than $100,000 must hand over the taxes. . . . more

Ecommerce is more than a third of all apparel sales

Internet Retailer
The share of online apparel sales as a portion of total apparel and accessories sales is increasing at a faster pace than all of U.S. ecommerce. Online apparel sales grew 18.5% in 2018 and represented 34.4% of U.S. apparel sales, up from 30.6% in 2017, according to the new Internet Retailer 2019 Online Apparel Report.

Comparatively, all of U.S. ecommerce grew 15% last year and accounted for 14% of total sales, according to Internet Retailer’s analysis of U.S. Commerce Dept. figures. . . . more

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Lululemon's New Experimental Store Hints at the Future of Retail

Yahoo Finance
Retailers have had to adapt to survive in the age of Amazon. Shoppers need a reason to physically visit stores and give up the convenience of shopping from their couch. To address this new dynamic, lululemon athletica is experimenting with a new large-format, multipurpose store it thinks can drive customer traffic and reinforce its lifestyle brand image.

The company's new location in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood is its largest ever and features several amenities not found in a typical athletic apparel store. The 20,000-square-foot store features a yoga studio, gym, meditation area, healthy food restaurant, and, of course, a Lululemon store. . . . more

Catalyst Offers to Buy Hudson’s Bay Shares to Block Takeover Bid

Private equity firm Catalyst Capital Group Inc. is offering to purchase up to C$150 million ($114 million) worth of shares of Hudson’s Bay Co. as it builds a stake in the Canadian retailer in an effort to thwart a proposed takeover of the company.

The Toronto-based firm said in a statement Monday it was was prepared to pay C$10.11 per share in cash for up to roughly 14.8 million common shares. That’s a 7% premium on the C$9.45 a share the company’s chairman, Richard Baker, and his partners offered to take the company private last month.

Hudson’s Bay has yet to formally respond to the take-private offer. Representatives for Hudson’s Bay and Baker weren’t immediately available for comment. . . . more

Amazon plans to open more Go stores in Chicago, Seattle

Retail Wire
A spokesperson for Amazon confirmed via email that the company is planning to open three new Amazon Go stores, one in Seattle and the other two in Chicago.

Amazon did not indicate when the company will open its new Seattle and Chicago stores. However, the company said that the new Madison & Minor store in Seattle will be approximately 1,150 square feet. As for Chicago, the company will be opening Amazon Go stores at the Prudential Plaza and the Merchandise Mart, which will be 1,425 square feet and 930 square feet, respectively. . . . more

GNC plans to close up to 900 stores with a focus on mall locations

USA Today
Health and wellness retailer GNC plans to close up to 900 stores with big cuts to mall locations expected.

Officials with the Pittsburgh-based chain spoke of their continued "store optimization effort" during the GNC's second-quarter earnings call with analysts Monday.

“I think it could be likely that we'll reduce our mall count by a nearly half,” said Tricia Tolivar, GNC chief financial officer. “So we've got a little over 800 malls today and over the long-term, we could bring that closer to 400 to 500.”. . . more

Ross Stores opens new locations, enters new state

Chain Store Age
Off-price retailer Ross Stores Inc. is on target with expansion plans.

Ross Stores opened 22 Ross Dress for Less and six dd’s Discounts stores across 10 different states in June and July. These new locations are part of the company’s previously announced plans to add approximately 100 stores in 2019, with 75 Ross and 25 dd’s Discounts locations.

As part of this most recent wave of store openings, Ross entered the state of Ohio with the opening of two new stores and now operates in 39 states. . . . more

Stage Stores drives onward with off-price conversions

Chain Store Age
A majority of Stage Stores Inc. stores will operate under the Gordmans off-price banner by the end of next year.

Stage plans to convert an additional 100 stores to Gordmans off-price in 2020, bringing the total number of 2020 off-price conversions to 250. In 2019, the company expects to complete 89 conversions, including 37 converted stores in March, 35 converted stores and one new store in June, and 17 planned conversions in September. . . . more

Kroger Goes Full Robot to Take On Amazon

Kroger Co., the giant but aging supermarket chain, has unleashed a flurry of initiatives to ensure it won’t get thumped in a post-Amazon-buying-Whole-Foods world: It is revamping locations, bought a meal-kit company, and sold off its convenience-store business. Its biggest gamble, though, is a partnership with British online grocer Ocado Group Plc. The two plan to build as many as 20 automated grocery warehouses in the U.S. to help Kroger turbocharge its e-commerce operation.

Grocery has proven a uniquely tough business to bring into the online era. Orders often have dozens of items – some frozen, some cold, some room temperature – and much of the inventory is perishable. That simply makes for a different challenge than the one Inc. has successfully tackled by getting a single laptop computer or phone charger on your doorstep in one day.. . . more

Monday, July 22, 2019

Why dynamic and personalized pricing haven't taken over retail — yet

Retail Dive
All the way back in 2000, when Amazon was mostly an online book and media store, it experimented with charging different prices to individual customers for the same DVDs.

The customer response was so swift and negative that, nearly 20 years later, the e-tailer still avoids the practice. Customers caught Amazon treating them differently, and weren't having it. As one academic put it not long after, Amazon had played around with one of the internet's "wonder-tools," but customers "felt hoodwinked by the random prices." . . . more

Food Halls in U.S. Malls are Thriving, but is There Fear of Oversaturation?

There’s been an explosion in the number of food halls across the U.S., and some experts say it’s not about to slow down anytime soon. In fact, activity is ramping up.

A new report by commercial real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield predicts there will be about 450 food halls open across the country by the end of 2020; that’s a jump from 120 in 2016.. . . more

With So Many Vacant Stores, E-Commerce Is Only Part of the Problem

The Wall Street Journal
Don’t blame all the vacant stores on e-commerce. Sky-high rents are squeezing retailers, too.

Although commercial retail rents are down from recent peaks, they haven’t fallen as fast as sales at struggling chains. The rents remain higher than prerecession levels in many prime shopping areas such as Manhattan, Los Angeles and Dallas.. . . more

The CEO of Athleta explains why the brand has been successful, and it's a stark reminder of why Gap is struggling

Business Insider
Athleta has become one of Gap's biggest sweet spots, endearingly referred to by analysts as one of its " crown jewels," along with the recently spun-off Old Navy.

It's becoming a symbol of everything that Gap isn't — it's a buzzy chain that's in "high growth mode" (according to its CEO Nancy Green), acquiring new customers, and opening stores while its big sister is forced to scale back, shutter hundreds of locations, and figure out how to make itself relevant again.. . . more

Barnes & Noble’s fate rests in the hands of a British indie bookstore owner

In 2018, it seemed like the days of the United States’ last major bookstore chain were numbered. A decade of falling sales, brutal layoffs, 150 store closures, six chief executives, and a $1 billion loss on its Nook e-reader had left Barnes & Noble in the throes of an identity crisis. So acute was its struggle that one New York Times critic imagined a sequel to the 1998 romantic comedy You’ve Got Mail in which Tom Hanks—the big-box bookstore owner who crushes Meg Ryan’s independent book shop—is now the David to Amazon’s Goliath.

But here’s a better plot twist: What if Meg Ryan got tapped to save the big chain, and teach Hanks what people really want from their bookstore?. . . more

Toys ‘R’ Us in comeback — with a different business model and smaller format

Chain Store Age
One year after closing all its U.S. stores, Toys “R” is returning with a “playground environment,” a tech-driven partner and a consignment-like business model.

The retailer will open two, approximately 6,500-sq.-ft. locations at Simon’s The Galleria in Houston and at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey. And more are coming, with additional locations in prime U.S. retail markets expected to open in 2020. . . . more

Penney: We haven’t hired advisers for in-court restructuring
J.C. Penney, looking to soothe rattled investors, said Friday it hasn’t hired any advisers to prepare for an in-court restructuring or bankruptcy.

The company’s statement came after a report said Penney was hiring experts to help restructure its debt. . . . more

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, 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 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 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 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 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