Monday, September 30, 2019

Is Amazon on a collision course with the government?

Retail Dive
Last fall, as Virginia's state economic development agency pitched a plan to legislators for Amazon to place a second headquarters in the state, officials highlighted risks that could derail the project. Second on the list, in a presentation made by the state agency, was the e-commerce giant's exposure to possible antitrust litigation.

At the time, aside from the odd presidential tweet about Amazon being a monopoly, there was no sign that the company faced imminent legal heat over its exploding footprint and competitive practices. . . . more

Newburyport's Book Rack closes, leaving vacant retail spot

The Daily News
After 47 years at the corner of State and Pleasant streets, The Book Rack bookstore shut down on Saturday, leaving a prominent downtown retail storefront vacant and papered over.

Owner John Hugo, whose family has owned bookstores since the 1960s, said "with much dismay" the store was closing because of declining sales and changing reading habits. The store opened in 1972. . . more

Moody's splashes cold water on Madewell IPO

Retail Dive
Moody’s Investors Service analysts last week threw some cold water on J. Crew Group’s plans to separate its Madewell unit and take it public, saying, among other things, that the company may be overestimating Madewell’s value. While J. Crew pegs Madewell’s enterprise value at between $1.9 billion and $2.9 billion, Moody’s puts it at closer to $1.2 billion to $1.9 billion.

The move also depends on the company and a group of its lenders agreeing on a debt restructuring plan, which Moody’s noted remains uncertain.. . . more

Sidewalk delivery robots coming to Pitt this fall

The University of Pittsburgh and Starship Technologies, a robotics company that makes 50-pound robots resembling coolers on wheels, plans to launch a delivery service this year.

“We are working with the city and our Oakland neighbors toward a launch later this fall,” Pitt spokesman Kevin Zwick said in an email.

A fleet of about 25 robots will be programmed to travel on Pitt’s campus carrying groceries, take-out meals and packages.. . . more

Luxury handbag reseller Rebag expands its store presence

Chain Store Age
Resale is booming and Rebag is capitalizing on it.

The digitally-native designer handbag reseller opened its eighth brick-and-mortar location, at Roosevelt Field mall, Garden City, New York. It is Rebag’s fourth retail location in the New York metro area and follows the company’s recent announcement of securing $25 million in Series C funding.. . . more

Rite Aid’s Turnaround Hinges On Health Plans, Not Amazon

Rite Aid’s relationships with health insurance plans appear to be a priority to turning around the drugstore chain rather than another attempt at a merger.

Though it’s early in the reign of Heyward Donigan, the new Rite Aid chief executive officer is sending signals that putting the drugstore chain and its pharmacists in a good spot with health insurers is critical to the company’s survival.. . . more

Forever 21, which helped popularize fast fashion, to file for bankruptcy

Boston Business Journal
Forever 21, the California retailer that helped popularize fast fashion in the United States with its bustling stores and $5 tops, said on Sunday night that it would file for bankruptcy, a sign of the eroding power of shopping malls and the shifting tastes of young consumers.

The private, family-held company capped months of speculation about its restructuring efforts by saying that it would cease operations in 40 countries, including Canada and Japan, as part of a Chapter 11 filing. It will close up to 178 stores in the United States and up to 350 overall. . . . more

Friday, September 27, 2019

NYC retail vacancies doubled over 10 years

Retail Dive
The amount of empty retail space in New York City has doubled in the last decade or so​, as the citywide vacancy rate soared by almost 50%, according to a comprehensive report released Wednesday by City Comptroller Scott Stringer. The vacancy rate rose from 4% in 2007 to a high of 5.8% in 2017, according to the report. That year, there was an extra 5.2 million square feet of vacant retail space compared to 2007, rising to over 11 million square feet.

The sweeping analysis of 24 neighborhoods shows that vacancy has expanded across all five boroughs, according to the report. . . . more

Meineke Accelerates Rapid Growth Across the U.S.
Meineke Car Care Centers has seen substantial growth in new store openings and new license signings in 2019. In the last 90 days, Meineke has secured more than 25 new commitments to grow, and the brand continues to gain momentum.

Meineke recently announced new limited-time incentives for entrepreneurs looking to become a Meineke franchise owner and for current franchisees interested in opening additional centers. Investors, entrepreneurs, and existing franchisees who sign a franchise agreement by December 31, 2019, are eligible to receive significant financial incentives during their first year of ownership. . . . more

Pier 1 Imports Store Closings: Retailer Prepares To Close More Than 140 Locations

International Business Times
The list of store closures may grow as the company reported a $100.6 million loss in the second fiscal quarter of the year and is looking to cut as much as a reported 15 percent of its locations.

Pier 1 interim CEO Cheryl Bachelder said during the company’s Q2 earnings call on Wednesday that active discussions have been going on with landlords with some progress being made on rent terms. Despite these efforts, the retailer is preparing to close more than 140 locations if can’t get its landlords to cooperate, the news outlet reported.

Pier 1 reportedly closed 70 locations so far this year and currently has 951 locations currently operating. . . . more

Kroger opens its first-ever food hall in new urban-format store

Chain Store Age
Kroger has gone downtown — for the first time in a long time.

The Kroger Co. on Wednesday opened a two-level, urban- format store that is located a block from its headquarters in downtown Cincinnati. The 52,000-sq.-ft. store — the first downtown location to open under the Kroger banner in about 50 years — features the grocer's first-ever food hall. . . . more

McKinsey to Open First Ever Store At Mall of America

It’s not your typical mall store.

Consulting giant McKinsey & Co., in collaboration with Mall of America, unveiled a laboratory-styled retail concept, called Modern Retail Collective, at the nation’s largest shopping mall. The store offers retailers the opportunity to work with McKinsey and Mall of America to test new technologies and “discover what’s possible when multiple technologies, analytics and store operations work together to elevate in-store experiences,” according to a company statement. . . . more

Would Simon, Brookfield Investment in Forever 21 Make Sense for Both Parties?

Struggling fast-fashion retailer Forever 21 Inc. may be positioning itself for bankruptcy, but with a possible twist.

Giant mall landlords Simon Property Trust and Brookfield Property Partners are reportedly in negotiations to acquire a stake in the ailing retailer. The move would mirror the strategy that the duo took with bankrupt Aeropostale three years ago.. . . more

Gap to hire fewer workers for holiday season

Gap Inc said on Thursday it plans to hire more than 30,000 seasonal workers for the upcoming holiday season, lower than the 65,000 target the apparel retailer had set for 2018.

A Gap spokeswoman said total seasonal hiring is lower this year to give current employees the opportunity to pick up more hours.. . . more

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Lease of faith: Why churches are going into malls

Retail Dive
There was a time in the 80s when shopping could be easily compared to a religious practice. While Gordon Gekko was opining about greed being good, the economy was humming along, and the mall was central to both consumerism and how American life functioned, simply because the physical space acted as a town center.

"The mall was where you bought almost anything but food," said Nick Egelanian, founder and president of SiteWorks Retail. "There were some discounters. There were some drug stores, obviously grocery stores. But malls were a big part of the household experience in the mid-1980s." . . . more

Multi-Tenant Retail Offers Net Lease Investors Attractive Opportunities

In the past few years, we’ve seen an uptick in private investors that were focused solely on single-tenant retail branch out and expand into multi-tenant product at a more rapid pace as they chase yields. It’s seemingly a natural progression, but prior to about 2015, it was perhaps a bit less common for the private investor segment.

As it relates to retail assets specifically, familiarity is why most investors can make the transition from single-tenant to multi-tenant with confidence—the general rules apply to both product types. Of course, there are nuances that will play a role, but if one understands retail and the economic drivers of a location, the investor has a solid foundation to build from and they’ll be able to expand their focus successfully.. . . more

Rite Aid jumped about 9% after reporting better-than-expected earnings

Rite Aid’s stock surged by about 9% in pre-market trading Thursday after reporting better-than-expected earnings under new CEO Heyward Donigan.

The pharmacy chain’s overall sales, however, fell short of analysts’ forecasts for its fiscal second quarter for 2020 ended Aug. 31, as did sales as locations open for at least a year. . . . more

Walmart’s Sam’s Club launches health care pilot to members

AP News
Walmart’s Sam’s Club is teaming up with several health care companies to offer discounts on routine care that customers might delay or skip because of the cost.

Starting next month, Sam’s Club members in Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina will be able to buy bundles of health care services that include discounted dental care, free prescriptions for certain generic medications, and telehealth consultations. . . . more

JC Penney: What Now?

KeyPoint Partners
For the better part of the past decade, JC Penney has been on a downward trend, experiencing a continuous erosion of market share to the likes of Target, Walmart, and Amazon, among others. It has gone through four chief executives, most notably Ron Johnson, who came over from Apple after transforming Apple retail outlets from boring computer stores to electronic gadget playgrounds. Unfortunately Johnson couldn’t successfully reboot Penney’s . . . more

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Activist Investor Known for Debt Restructuring Targets Mall Owner CBL

The Wall Street Journal
An activist investor with a history of restructuring debt and forcing property companies to sell assets is targeting struggling mall owner CBL Properties .

Michael Ashner has acquired 5.97% of CBL as of late August, the most recent public filing. His firms have accumulated 10.35 million shares at a price range of 80 cents to $1.16 between June and August, according to a stock-exchange filing last month.

CBL shares trade around $1.16, which is down about 70% from a year ago.. . . more

Best Buy CEO Eyes Health Care as Retailer’s ‘Next Big Thing’

Best Buy Co. is well-known for bringing computers and other gadgets back to life. Now, it wants to take care of its shoppers’ health as well.

The retailer’s strategy to beef up its fledgling health-care business will be a key focus of its investor meeting Wednesday in New York. The plan includes selling everything from fancy fitness machines to health-monitoring services for seniors. It could help Best Buy grab some of the $3.5 trillion market for health spending in the U.S. -- while offsetting sluggishness in its main business of selling laptops, TVs and phones.. . . more

Ikea to debut new store concept in New York City

Chain Store Age
Ikea will open a 115,000-sq.-ft. store at the Rego Center in Queens in summer 2020. It will be the first Ikea to open in the U.S. with a new layout and format to support a seamless omnichannel experience for customers. The merchandise mix will include thousands of products for purchase and takeaway as well as larger furniture items that will be available for delivery.

The news about the Queens location follows the April 2019 opening of Ikea’s U.S. first city center location, a 17,350-sq.-ft. store on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. . . . more

Arby’s owner Inspire Brands buys Jimmy John’s

Arby’s parent Inspire Brands is adding Jimmy John’s to its widening roster of restaurant chains.

Inspire Brands, backed by private equity firm Roark Capital Group, announced Wednesday it will acquire Jimmy John’s for an undisclosed amount. The chain has more than 2,800 locations, which will comprise a quarter of Inspire’s total count.. . . more

Poshmark doubles sellers revenues from $1B to $2B in just one year

Fast Company
Across the internet, the resale market is blowing up. At the high end, platforms like TheRealReal and StockX are making it easier than ever to buy and sell luxury goods, while ThredUP has become the world’s largest online thrift store.

In the middle of the market, there’s Poshmark. Today, the eight-year-old company announces it has paid out $2 billion to its community of seven million sellers. And what’s even more surprising is that a year ago, the company hit its $1 billion milestone, meaning it has doubled revenues generated for sellers in a single year. It’s just another sign that the resale market is gaining speed.. . . more

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Ascena considers selling Lane Bryant, Catherines

Retail Dive
Ascena Retail Group is in discussions to sell its Catherines and Lane Bryant plus banners, Bloomberg reported Thursday, citing unnamed sources. "It is ascena retail group’s policy not to comment on speculation or rumor," a company spokesperson told Retail Dive in an email.

The struggling apparel conglomerate earlier this year divested itself of other operations, winding down its Dressbarn banner and shuttering all 650 of those stores after it couldn't find a buyer, and selling its majority stake in discount banner Maurices.. . . more

Mass retail store closures will continue to rip through the US: Goldman Sachs

Yahoo Finance
The great retail store closure wave that has gripped America amid the push to online shopping won’t be ending anytime soon.

In fact, Goldman Sachs thinks it will probably get even worse.

“Our REITs team does not expect a near-term reversal of store closures from retail tenants, which should continue to result in eCommerce share gains, in our view,” says Goldman Sachs analyst Heath Terry in a new research note to clients on Tuesday.. . . more

U.S. consumer confidence plunges in September

U.S. consumer confidence fell by the most in nine months in September, far more than expected, as Americans’ economic outlooks darkened in the face of the U.S.-China trade war, according to a private sector report released on Tuesday.

The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of consumer attitudes fell to 125.1, from an downwardly revised 134.2 the month before.. . . more

Happy Returns expands physical presence in deal with Cost Plus World Market

Chain Store Age
Happy Returns  announced it will place its Returns Bars in Cost Plus World Market’s 276 stores nationwide by the end of September. The rollout follows a successful pilot program that began in April and included 11 Cost Plus stores in Brooklyn, N.Y., Columbus, Ohio, Dallas, and Lubbock, Texas.

Happy Returns’ in-store return bars are designed to give customers an easy method to return items — with no box or label needed — from online retailers. Online retailers that participate include Everlane, Rothy’s, Draper James, Eloquii and Revolve.. . . more

Empty Big-Box Stores Offer an Opportunity for Self-Storage Developers

Self-storage developers are fighting over empty big-box stores.

The retail apocalypse has left behind thousands of empty stores. Developers of self-storage facilities have joined the bidding to buy vacant retail properties and then redevelop them into the new use. The locations are often very strong, and the low cost of redevelopment helps make these deals work. . . . more

Marshalls mobilizes for omnichannel commerce

Chain Store Age
Marshalls shoppers have a new channel to make purchases.

Marshalls is unveiling its new e-commerce website. The online and mobile site marks the off-price retailer’s official entry into digital sales. Marshalls’ online assortment will feature similar categories to its brick-and-mortar assortment, such as ladies’, men’s and kids’ apparel and footwear, home, accessories and beauty. However, the specific online product mix will be unique to the site.. . . more

High-end stores at new mega-mall? Dream on!
Whatever happened to promises of only super-high-end retailers at the new mall in the Meadowlands?

For years we were tantalized with promises of Chanel, Gucci, and Balenciaga. Looks like we’re getting Century 21, H&M and Zara.. . . more

Hanover Mall reboot lands Market Basket, Showcase as tenants

Boston Business Journal
The re-envisioned Hanover Mall has landed Market Basket, Showcase Cinemas and Ten Pin Eatery & Barstow Tavern as retail tenants ahead of the official approval of the mall’s proposed redevelopment.

Market Basket has agreed to lease 80,000 square feet and hire 400 people at Hanover Crossing, with features including a Market’s Kitchen and Café and a full-service Butcher Block.. . . more

Only 17.5% of online retailers offer free shipping

Internet Retailer
Merchants are moving to meet consumer demands of same- and next-day delivery. But only 17.5% of Top 1000 retailers analyzed by Internet Retailer offer free shipping on all orders, no strings attached, according to the Internet Retailer 2019 Click, Ship & Return Report

Of the merchants in Internet Retailer’s 2019 Top 1000, 65.4% offer free shipping on at least some orders. This includes those retailers offering free shipping under certain conditions.. . . more

Monday, September 23, 2019

'Retail apocalypse' could last another 2 years

Retail Dive
The current period of consolidation colloquially known as the "retail apocalypse" may last for another 18 to 24 months, according to an emailed analyst note from investment bank B. Riley FBR.

That includes both liquidating retailers and healthy players looking to rationalize their store fleets. Much of the closures would happen at B- and C-class malls, which have already struggled for years now.. . . more

Madewell IPO may be in limbo as talks with lenders break down

Retail Dive
J. Crew's debt has hampered its operations for years now, including its own plans for an IPO and a fleeting proposal of a sale to Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing.

Now it appears to be a complicating factor in the proposed separation of the ailing J. Crew brand from the more prosperous, if smaller, Madewell brand. . . . more

With acquisitions pending, Sears Hometown hemorrhages sales

Retail Dive
Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores second quarter sales fell 44.3% year over year to $168.6 million, as comparable sales declined by nearly 22%.

The massive sales losses come on the heels of agreements inked in recent months to sell the Hometown business to the reconstituted Sears, and the Outlet business to the parent company of Liberty Tax Service. Both deals are expected to close in October, according to a press release.. . . more

For Clothing Retailers, Breaking Up Is Now Harder to Do

Two big names in clothing retail are getting smaller. Gap Inc. laid out the details last week of its previously announced plan to split into two companies — one that is solely its Old Navy chain, and another for everything else. Meanwhile, J. Crew Group Inc. made it official last week that it plans to spin off its Madewell chain.

Both of these splits are the right moves for two apparel businesses that have oddly similar problems: Their newer chains are doing well, but their older ones are struggling. The breakups will allow executives to focus more intently on the troubled brands’ problems. . . . more

7-Eleven Opens Its First Mall Convenience Store

Convenience Store News
7-Eleven Inc. is heading to the mall.

The convenience store retailer opened its first location inside a mall in Brandon, Fla. The Westfield Brandon c-store is the first of seven locations 7-Eleven plans to open in malls this year, according to ABC Action News.. . . more

Survey: This grocery service draws younger consumers

Chain Store Age
Millennial and Gen Z shoppers are driving growth in a specific omnichannel grocery offering.

According to a recent survey of 1,000 CPG shoppers from advertising platform Criteo, many consumers have already used online delivery services for their grocery purchases. Forty-three percent of respondents have had groceries delivered by mail (such as, and another 35% have not but would consider this type of delivery.. . . more

Best Buy expands lease-to-own program

With more young adults without established credit, making it more difficult for them to get credit cards, more mainstream retailers are starting to offer any number of “buy now, pay later” options that in the past might have been available only at niche retailers. Customers get the items right away and then pay them off in installments until they own them. The terms, fees and interest rates vary by program.

For Best Buy, it’s one more way to reach consumers.. . . more

Eyes on U.S. prize, Primark considers Central American suppliers

Confident it can crack the $300 billion U.S. clothing and shoes market where many other foreign retailers have failed, Britain’s Primark is ready to raise its bet on the country by securing new sources of fast fashion in central America.

Primark, whose trendy clothes at rock-bottom prices have taken UK shoppers by storm, opened in Boston in 2015 and now has nine stores in the northeast, all served by a warehouse in Pennsylvania that could still serve three times as many stores.. . . more

Friday, September 20, 2019

Negotiable Lease Terms for Restaurant Tenants

Modern Restaurant Management
Tenants should always have a lease in writing, and depending on the state in which the premises lies, other requirements may affect the validity of your lease. Aside from state-specific requirements and essential terms (parties, monetary obligations, premises and length of the term) needed to validate your lease, restaurant tenants must also be wary of landlord-friendly leases.

One big mistake tenants make is signing a lease without understanding the obligations and consequences provided within the lease. Paying close attention to specific obligations and negotiating tenant-friendly terms is imperative prior to executing a lease.. . . more

As Dress Barn and Chico’s shutter stores, here’s where women are shopping instead

Experts say weakness in women’s apparel is driven by specialty stores and department stores.

Retailers like Chico’s, Barneys, Dress Barn and J.C. Penney have been announcing store closures.

Older women are also shifting spending to mass merchants and off-price retailers.. . . more

Amazon has to 'figure out how to compete with Target and Walmart'

Yahoo Finance
Amazon’s push for one-day shipping may not be enough to compete with the big brick-and-mortar retailers.

“Target and Walmart’s online sales are growing three times Amazon’s in the U.S. Forty percent pick up at store, they’re getting it same day. Amazon can’t do that. So they’ve got to figure out how to compete with Target and Walmart,” Ron Johnson, Enjoy CEO and former CEO of JCPenney, told Yahoo Finance’s The Final Round.. . . more

Toys R Us, Candytopia partner for experiential pop-ups

Retail Dive
The parent company of the new Toys R Us is partnering with Candytopia, maker of candy-based art exhibits, to launch experiential pop-ups in Chicago and Atlanta.

The concepts are set to open in October and stay through the holiday season. TRU Kids and Candytopia said Toys R Us Adventures will move to other major U.S. cities in 2020.. . . more

Subscription-Based Retailers Getting in on Physical Store Action

 What do Birchbox, Adore Me, Rent the Runway, Frank & Oak and Fabletics all have in common?

Yes, they’re all digitally native brands, but more specifically, they’re subscription-based retailers that are counting on their built-in customer base and name recognition to open bricks-and-mortar stores across the country.. . . more

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Walgreens will be first retailer in U.S. to test on-demand drone delivery

Chain Store Age
Walgreens is set to lift off and make history with a drone pilot in Virginia.

Beginning in October, the drugstore giant and Wing Aviation, a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet, will partner on a pilot of “store to door” delivery of health and wellness, food and beverage and convenience items via drone delivery. (Prescription deliveries are not available in the pilot.) According to Walgreens, customers will receive their orders within minutes of placing orders.. . . more

Fitch joins S&P in downgrading J.C. Penney on turnaround uncertainty

Retail Dive
Fitch Ratings downgraded J.C. Penney's credit rating deeper into junk territory, to CCC+ from B-. The downgrade was based on "continued market share losses and declining EBITDA, with lack of visibility for a material turnaround although there are no near-term liquidity concerns," analysts said in an emailed report.

Analysts also described Penney's capital structure as "untenable" but noted it has the liquidity to fund seasonal working capital and near-term debt maturities. They also expect Penney's store traffic and core apparel sales to keep sliding. . . . more

Returns have become a holiday tradition

Chain Store Age
A new survey indicates retailers must prepare for a deluge of post-Dec. 25 holiday activity.

According to a survey of almost 16,000 global consumers from Oracle Retail and Savanta, 77% of respondents plan to return a portion of their gifts this holiday season. More than 20% expect to return more than half their presents. While 32% of respondents plan to return gifts via mail, 65% intend to return them to the store.. . . more

What’s the state of online grocery?

Supermarket News
Though a small slice of total food retail sales and shopping occasions, the online channel is steadily garnering more grocery dollars as more consumers opt to make purchases digitally and delivery/pickup services become more widely available, new research shows.

At the same time, however, grocery retailers are still working out the profitability equation and operational issues in online grocery fulfillment, as well as trying to rationalize the technology investment, studies revealed. Some retailers, too, have proved more adept than others in e-commerce execution.. . . more

Madison Reed in new move to expand to hundreds of locations

Chain Store Age
Online start-up Madison Reed is turning to a traditional retail route to aggressively expand its fledgling brick-and-mortar network quickly.

The hair color brand announced plans to franchise its Madison Reed Color Bars under a joint venture with Franworth, a franchise consulting firm. Madison Reed, which makes and markets its own hair color products, is believed to be the first digitally native vertical brand to use the franchise business model as a growth strategy for local brick-and-mortar retail. The company plans to open some 600 stores during the next four years, which includes 500 franchised locations and 100 company-owned locations.. . . more

Physical books still outsell e-books — and here’s why

Do you prefer reading an e-book or a physical version? It might be a surprise, but for most people, old school print on paper still wins.

Publishers of books in all formats made almost $26 billion in revenue last year in the U.S., with print making up $22.6 billion and e-books taking $2.04 billion, according to the Association of American Publishers’ annual report 2019. Those figures include trade and educational books, as well as fiction.. . . more

At Home Group adding four more locations

Chain Store Age
September is shaping up as a busy month for At Home Group.

The value home décor retailer is opening four new stores this month, growing its national footprint to 209 locations across 39 states by the end of September.. . . more

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Market Basket Will Anchor 306,000-Square-Foot Mixed-Use Development in Maynard, Massachusetts

Shopping Center Business
Market Basket Supermarket will anchor the 306,000-square-foot Maynard Crossing mixed-use development currently under construction in Maynard, located approximately 23 miles west of Boston. The 70,000-square-foot store plans to hire 250 associates and will feature a full-service butcher and café with sandwiches, pizza and sushi. LeCesse Development Corp. is developing Maynard Crossing, which will include additional retail tenants and a 180-unit apartment complex called The Vue at Maynard Crossing.. . . more

Is Boston's Seaport the new SoHo?

Retail Dive
When I asked for tips about where to shop in Boston, I was almost unanimously told: "Anything outside of Newbury Street.""

Newbury was built in the 19th century and has been a go-to shopping district for decades​, but walking down the famous street, one gets the feeling Newbury faces the same conundrum New York's Fifth Avenue does: locals desperately avoid it and tourists flock to it.. . . more

Forever 21 Is in Talks to Give Landlords a Stake in Bankruptcy

Forever 21 Inc. is in discussions to give a stake in the company to its two largest landlords as part of a restructuring that would allow co-founder Do Won Chang to retain a share, according to people familiar with the matter.

The ailing fast-fashion retailer is in talks with Simon Property Group Inc. and Brookfield Property Partners LP about the proposal, which would be part of a bankruptcy filing, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing a private matter. The negotiations are ongoing, and could end without a deal, they said.. . . more

More good holiday news for retailers — with a caveat

Chain Store Age
Another forecast bodes well for retailers’ holiday sales but warns of “unprecedented uncertainty.”

Retail sales in the U.S. are expected to rise 4.4% to 5.3% this holiday season, according to global consulting firm AlixPartners. The forecast is in line with Deloitte’s annual outlook, which was released on Tuesday.

However, AlixPartners is taking a more cautious stance with regards to the critical November-through-January shopping period.. . . more

A retail star that’s casually upstaging J. Crew

Boston Business Journal
When J. Crew started opening Madewell stores in 2006, the company declared that its new brand would deliver “real, honest women’s clothes” for hip 20- and 30-somethings. “Not too trendy, not too girly, just cool clothes infused with a modern upbeat attitude,” it said in a release at the time, promoting the worn-in feel of the retailer’s T-shirts, jeans and chinos.

The idea worked better, perhaps, than the company expected.. . . more

Garments for lease: 'rental' apparel brings new wrinkles for retail stores

From New York & Company, owned by RTW Retailwinds Inc., to Bloomingdale’s and Banana Republic of Gap Inc., more retailers are offering to lend out their clothing for a monthly rental rate.

The services cater to a growing number of people  who want to purchase just a few items and rent the rest.. . . more

Gen Z shopping habits can fuel a brick-and-mortar resurgence, report says

Brick-and-mortar stores may have a surprising saving grace: the teen shopper.

According to a new survey by A.T. Kearney, consumers ages 14 to 24 overwhelmingly prefer to do their shopping in stores, largely for mental health reasons. Eighty-one percent of Gen Z respondents said they prefer to purchase in stores, and 73% said they like to discover new products in stores.. . . more

Penney's first female CEO says her turnaround will be the one to work

Jill Soltau is making a long-shot bid at J.C. Penney Co. to do what her predecessors couldn’t: uncover what customers really want from the ailing department-store chain.

J.C. Penney had work to do in every category, Soltau said in her first sit-down interview since she started the job. . . . more

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Destination Maternity considers possible sale after dismal Q2

Retail Dive
Destination Maternity is exploring a possible sale or merger in addition to "value-enhancing initiatives" should the company remain independent. The latter includes capital structure "optimization," as well as the sale or disposition of some business assets, the company said Tuesday. No timeline was set for the strategic review.

The announcement comes as second quarter sales fell nearly 12% year over year to $84.9 million. Driving the decline were 61 store closures in Q2 and a 10.5% drop in comparable sales.. . . more

BJ’s names Lee Delaney as president

Supermarket News
Lee Delaney, chief commercial officer at BJ’s Wholesale Club, has been promoted to president.

Delaney joined Westborough, Mass.-based BJ’s in May 2016 as executive vice president and chief growth officer. He became executive VP and chief commercial officer in February 2018. Before coming to the warehouse club retailer, Delaney was a partner at the Boston office of Bain & Co., where he was a leader in the firm’s consumer products practice, and prior to that worked for Electronic Data Systems and Deloitte Consulting.. . . more

Crate & Barrel to expand in-store restaurant concept

Retail Dive
Crate & Barrel's first restaurant in Chicago did so well that the retailer plans to open up to 15 full-service restaurants inside its stores, CEO Neela Montgomery said during Fortune's MPW International Summit. She said the concept turned a profit by the second month. Montgomery didn't indicate a timeline for opening these restaurants.

Crate & Barrel opened its first full-service restaurant, called The Table at Crate, yesterday at its Oak Brook, Illinois store, according to a company release.. . . more

Retailers should be happy with holiday sales this year

Chain Store Age
According to Deloitte’s annual holiday forecast, holiday retail sales are likely to increase between 4.5% and 5% year-over-year in 2019. Overall, Deloitte’s retail and distribution practice projects that holiday sales will exceed $1.1 trillion during the November 2019-January 2020 timeframe.

Deloitte also forecasts that e-commerce sales will grow by 14%–18%, year-over-year, during the 2019–2020 holiday season, compared to e-commerce sales increasing by 11.2% in the 2018-2019 holiday period. This increase is expected to result in e-commerce holiday sales reaching between $144 billion–$149 billion this season.. . . more

Stage Stores goes all in on off-price

Chain Store Age
Stage Stores Inc. will close about 40 stores as part of a plan to substantially convert to its off-price Gordmans banner.

Stage plans to begin converting its remaining department stores in February 2020, and expects to be operating approximately 700 predominantly small-market Gordmans off-price stores by the third quarter of fiscal 2020. A limited number of stores may continue to operate under their existing department store nameplates until closure is permitted by lease.. . . more

Stop & Shop Announces Plans to Remodel 21 Long Island Stores

Stop & Shop recently announced plans to invest $133 million in store remodels in 21 of its Suffolk County, Long Island locations.

“The remodeling of our Long Island stores is a key milestone in our journey to refresh the Stop & Shop brand for the future and to strengthen our position as market leader,” said Stop & Shop President Gordon Reid. “We’re excited for local customers to enjoy the changes we’ve brought to Long Island like even more fresh produce, lower prices, and new solutions to help make things easy for our customers to get their shopping done and get back to what matters most.” . . . more

Gap, J. Crew, Hudson’s Bay And The Unrelenting Collapse Of The Middle In Retail

With few exceptions, retailers that execute well at either end of the value spectrum are doing pretty well. Those that are weak on price and convenience or, alternatively, fail to deliver a memorable more premium, differentiated product and shopping experience increasingly find themselves in an unsustainable no man’s land.

Recent earnings reports from Gap, J. Crew and Hudson Bay continue to reinforce the idea that physical retail isn’t dead, but boring retail is.. . . more

Walmart is bringing back trendy fashion brand Scoop in bid to juice its fashion business

Walmart said Monday it’s relaunching the once-beloved trendy New York fashion brand, Scoop NYC, on its website and in select stores.

Scoop shuttered all 16 of its stores in New York City three years ago, having gained famed with its chunky black-and-white logo appearing across episodes of “Sex and the City” and on the arms of fashion influencers in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan.

Now, in a bid to build itself as a bigger fashion destination, Walmart has attained the rights to the Scoop name and is relaunching the brand — but at more affordable price points. . . . more

Monday, September 16, 2019

Floor and Decor to make NH debut in Nashua

Union Leader
Floor & Decor will make its New Hampshire debut in the former Bob’s and Staples stores on Amherst Street.

The vacant Bob’s and Staples stores will be converted into a new Floor & Decor retail center.

The Georgia-based retailer’s closest current locations are in Saugus and Avon, Mass.. . . more

Can J.C. Penney's Jill Soltau pull off the ultimate retail Hail Mary?

Retail Dive
J.C. Penney is still losing customers, sales and money as Soltau tries to pull off a lasting turnaround. The CEO has built out a team of new executives this year and has an eye both on finances and the need to invigorate the retailer's stores and offering.

The stakes are as high as they've ever been. Penney's bonds are rated as junk, its shares are traded at penny stock levels and, after news broke that it was working with financial advisors, the company had to tell a jittery world that it was specifically not working on a Chapter 11 filing.. . . more

J. Crew net loss grows in Q2

Chain Store Age
The specialty apparel retailer reported essentially flat total revenues of $588.8 million, while same-store sales declined 1% from the prior-year period. Net loss grew to $44.2 million compared to $6.1 million in the second quarter the previous year. J. Crew said net loss during fiscal 2019 and 2018 were impacted by transaction, transformation and severance costs and a benefit related to the lease termination payment.

One bright spot was performance of the company’s Madewell subsidiary, which it launched in 2006 as a separate, more casual and denim-based brand. Madewell sales increased 15% to $139.7 million from $121.6 million, and Madewell same-store sales rose 10%. . . . more

Walmart unveils enhanced supercenter

Chain Store Age
Walmart is upping its supercenter experience.

The retail giant officially opened its remodeled supercenter in Dallas, Georgia, on Sept. 13. The store offers an enhanced shopping experience in many departments, expanded assortment and displays.

Along with opening the doors to the supercenter, Walmart debuted its new standalone health clinic format, Walmart Health, which is adjacent to the remodeled store. It offers a full array of health and wellness services, with primary care, lab tests, X-rays, counseling, dental, optical, hearing and community health education.. . . more

Amazon wants to double its Locker program over the next year

Amazon for the past few years has installed its bright orange delivery lockers in many corners of the US, from hotel lobbies to convenience stores to supermarkets. Now, it's eyeing plans to install a lot more, hoping to use the lockers to speed up Prime shipments and bolster its logistics network.

The e-commerce giant is quietly working to vastly expand its Amazon Hub Locker network, according to a person familiar with the company's plans. It set a goal to evaluate over 1,000 new locations for its lockers every month, with expectations to approve a significant chunk of those sites, the person added. . . . more

Madewell, J Crew's denim brand, files for an IPO

CNN Business
Madewell, J Crew's fast-growing denim brand, plans to split from its struggling parent company and hit the public market.

Madewell reached more than $600 million in sales during its 2018 fiscal year, up from $248 million in 2014, according to the filings. As of August, Madewell company operated 132 small US stores, primarily in upscale shopping malls and on city street corners. Around 60% of Madewell's customers were in its membership program last year and 37% of its sales came online, it said.. . . more

US retail sales top forecasts in August as auto, online purchases rise

Boston Business Journal
US retail sales climbed more than expected last month driven by purchases at auto dealers and online retailers, however an underlying gauge of consumer demand grew at its slowest pace in six months.

Headline retail sales rose 0.4 per cent in August, the Commerce Department said on Friday, exceeding economists’ expectations for a 0.2 per cent increase, according to a Reuters poll.

However, so-called control retail sales, which strip out volatile items such as food, petrol and building materials and offers a picture of underlying sales, rose 0.3 per cent last month in line with forecasts. That marked the slowest pace of growth since February.. . . more

Friday, September 13, 2019

Old Navy to almost double the size of store fleet

Old Navy, which will soon be spun off by parent Gap Inc. as an independent public company, is feeling bullish on brick-and-mortar.. . . more

Walmart going national with ‘unlimited’ grocery delivery subscription program

Walmart is not ceding the lucrative grocery delivery subscription market to Amazon or other rivals.
The discount giant plans to expand its grocery delivery membership program, called “Delivery Unlimited,” to 1,400 stores later this fall. For a fee of $98 per year or $12.95 per month, customers can purchase groceries online and either have them delivered to their home or pick them up at a local Walmart store, with no per-order charge. Customers will continue to have the option to pay a per-delivery fee (typically $9.95), without a membership.. . . more

Gap Inc. to grow Athleta, Janie & Jack globally via franchising

Gap Inc. is expanding its already robust franchise business with the addition of two brands.

The retailer announced it will begin franchising its Athleta and Janie & Jack brands internationally, starting with online and in shop-in-shop formats. Gap Inc. said it will eventually open brick-and-mortar stores with proven partners. . . . more

Tru Kids taps toy industry vet to head joint venture to open Toys ‘R’ Us stores

Plans to revive the Toys “R” Us banner in the U.S. are gaining momentum with the appointment of a veteran from the bankrupt chain to lead the new initiative.. . . more

Beloved Nantucket Restaurant the Nautilus Is Adding a Boston Seaport Location

Boston Magazine
Next summer, Bostonians might not have to board a ferry to get a taste of one of Nantucket’s best restaurants. The Nautilus, which serves up vibrant small plates with a coastal bent on the tiny Massachusetts island, is opening a larger, second location in the Boston Seaport in spring 2020. Called the Nautilus Pier 4, the waterfront outpost will offer a similarly stellar wine and cocktail list and seasonal menu favorites as the Nantucket original. . . . more

Cape Cod Mall Announces Extensive Renovations

Simon announced that Cape Cod Mall will begin an extensive interior and exterior renovation complete with elevated finishes, modern décor, fresh landscaping featuring an outdoor gathering space, a new custom themed play area, and more. . . . more

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Amazon's inventory value up 25% as it begins next-day shipping

Retail Dive
Amazon's inventory value has ballooned over the last year compared to some of its retail competitors, increasing 25% up to nearly $18.6 billion in its latest quarterly report from more than $14.8 billion during the same period a year ago, according to a review by Supply Chain Dive.

The increase in inventory is a result of Amazon's plan to roll out next-day delivery, according to Moody's retail analyst Charles O'Shea. "In order to do next day delivery, you've got to have the stuff in the system," O'Shea said in an interview with Supply Chain Dive. "So you've got to buy more because you don't know how much you need.". . . more

Neighborhood Goods expanding; raises $11 million in funding

Chain Store Age
Neighborhood Goods is expanding its department store of the future concept.

The retail start-up will open its third location, in a new mixed-use development in Austin, Texas. The 10,000-sq.-ft. store is due to open in 2020.

Designed as a modern alternative to the traditional department store, Neighborhood Goods combines an ever-changing line-up of contemporary brands — many of them cult faves and/or digital natives — along with events and services. The company offers a variety of leasing and space options that make it easy for brands to set up shop and rotate in and out.. . . more

Anytime Fitness’ Parent Company Acquires The Bar Method

SGB Media
Self Esteem Brands, the parent company of Anytime Fitness, has purchased The Bar Method – a popular, low-impact fitness franchise with 123 studios across 30 states and Canada. Self Esteem Brands will initially offer new franchise territories throughout North America, while exploring additional franchising opportunities internationally.

“We’re excited to add The Bar Method to our rapidly-expanding portfolio of franchises, which also includes Anytime Fitness, the world’s largest and fastest-growing fitness chain, Basecamp Fitness, a high-intensity class-based fitness concept, and Waxing the City, a franchise devoted to the art of waxing,” said Chuck Runyon, Co-founder and CEO of Self Esteem Brands and Anytime Fitness.. . . more

Bondholders With $1.1 Billion Riding on N.J. Mall Get a Peek

Wall Street has over $1.1 billion riding on the success of New Jersey’s American Dream mega mall, the massive consumer utopia outside New York City that’s been in the works for nearly two decades.

So on Thursday, bondholders will get a sneak peek at the retail and entertainment hub to see what their investments helped create. . . . more

Hudson’s Bay Co losses widen on lower sales and heavy discounts

Ottawa Citizen
Canadian department store operator Hudson’s Bay Co reported a wider second-quarter loss on Thursday, hurt by several shuttered stores, heavy discounting and declining sales at the retailer’s namesake brand.

The Toronto-based company has been fighting a tough retail environment as e-commerce behemoth Inc and other department stores such as Macy’s and Nordstrom Inc continue to swoop up more customers with discounts.. . . more

At Home Rethinks Its No-E-commerce Strategy

After At Home Group Inc. lost half its market value in one day this June, its CEO Lee Bird decided to reconsider everything at the home decor chain of 200 stores across 40 states.

In response, the home-goods retailer has slowed its ambitious addition of 400 more stores, which now will gradually open over the next decade. The chain will also revamp marketing to tout what it claims are the lowest prices in the industry. And, crucially, after staying out of the e-commerce fray because the cost of implementation and shipping could hamper profit, the company now plans a full online offering by 2022.. . . more

Forever 21 says reports are wrong, company is 'not planning to file for bankruptcy Sunday'

USA Today
While reports are circulating that Forever 21 Inc. could file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as early as Sunday, the fashion retailer told USA TODAY that's not the case.

"The reports are inaccurate; Forever 21 is not planning to file for bankruptcy on Sunday," the company said in a statement. "Our stores are open and it is our intention to continue to operate the vast majority of U.S. stores, as well as a smaller amount of international stores.". . . more

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

New Tenant Mixes Drive Retail Redevelopments

A persistent need for a tenant mix that is resistant to e-commerce and which facilitates a unique, authentic experience is prompting owners of older retail centers and malls to assume high levels of risk and redevelop their properties.

While there can be a plethora of non-tenant-related factors that spur redevelopment projects — the basic need to charge higher rents, the structural and aesthetic deterioration over time, a desire to restore a public perception of vibrancy — the ultimate success of almost every retail redevelopment project hinges on the tenancy. . . . more

Millennials, Gen X are the most activist shoppers

Retail Dive
Aligning shopping with values is emerging as a hallmark of U.S. consumerism, with millennials aged 25 to 34 dominating that trend, according to a report emailed to Retail Dive from consumer intelligence platform Resonate.

Gen Xers also make their mark in what Resonate calls activist shopping, especially when it comes to a brand’s ethics. Those shoppers, mostly Gen X women with older children, favor companies "that treat their employees fairly, are honest and trustworthy, have truthful advertising and price products fairly," and are the largest segment Resonate found.. . . more

Francesca's shares rise on profit surge

Retail Dive
Francesca's on Tuesday said that second quarter net sales fell 6% to $106 million from $113 million in the year-ago quarter.

Comparable sales fell 5%, due to lower average unit prices from "deeper markdowns on legacy product," partially offset by higher conversion rates and average units per transaction, according to a press release.

Gross profit as a percent of net sales fell to 38.2% from 39% a year ago because the deeper markdowns lowered margins. Net income rose to $1.8 million from $0.5 million in the prior-year quarter. The company opened one store and closed five during the period for a total of 718.. . . more

GameStop to close up to 200 stores

Just two months after GameStop announced ambitious plans to breathe new life into its stores, the company has announced that between 180 and 200 stores around the world will be closing their doors for good before the year is out -- and more closures are coming.

The company's balance sheet has not looked healthy in recent times -- its second quarter global sales decreased 14.3 percent, marking an adjusted net loss of $32 million. As such, GameStop CFO James Bell announced that up to 200 "underperforming" stores will be closed between now and the end of the year. . . . more

L Brands promises an ‘evolution’ is ahead for Victoria’s Secret brand

If there was one clear theme at Tuesday’s L Brands’ investor day, it was that it was time to move beyond past mistakes — both personal and corporate — that have lopped off nearly a third of the company’s value over the past year.

“There’s a big belief in the company that we need to evolve,” said John Mehas, head of Victoria’s Secret Lingerie, speaking at the Hilton Columbus at Easton.. . . more

Amazon Probed by U.S. Antitrust Officials Over Marketplace

A team of Federal Trade Commission investigators has begun interviewing small businesses that sell products on Inc. to determine whether the e-commerce giant is using its market power to hurt competition.

Several attorneys and at least one economist have been conducting interviews that typically last about 90 minutes and cover a range of topics, according to three merchants. All were asked what percentage of revenue their businesses derive from Amazon versus other online marketplaces like Walmart Inc. and EBay Inc., suggesting regulators are skeptical about Amazon’s claims that shoppers and suppliers have real alternatives to the Seattle-based company. . . . more

J.C. Penney looks to outdoor sports enthusiasts to reel in more consumer spending

The Dallas Morning News
Plano-based J.C. Penney will be going up against sporting goods retailers such as Bass Pro Shops and Academy Sports + Outdoors for a piece of the men's outdoor lifestyle category.

Penney is expanding into the more rugged clothing with its own St. John's Bay brand, both online and in about 600 of its 830 stores starting Thursday. The new merchandise, which Penney's in-house product development and designers created, includes shirts, sweaters, jackets and pants in functional and durable styles.. . . more

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Lululemon’s first new brand, 10 years in the making, is here

Fast Company
For the last decade, Lululemon has been quietly tinkering with a luxury streetwear label called Lab. The $3.8 billion sportswear giant first piloted the concept in 2009, opening a store in Vancouver. Then, over the last three years, it opened two more Lab stores in New York. Until now, these were the only places to catch a peek at the project and buy a few limited-edition pieces. But today, Lab hits prime time: The newest 44-piece collection will be available online and at 45 stores across North America, Europe, and Asia.

Lab will exist as a separate brand from Lululemon, one that is both more expensive—items range from $80 to more than $500, prices that run approximately 30% higher than existing Lululemon products—and more exclusive, given that it will only be available at about 10% of Lululemon stores. . . . more

Kohl's president departs

Retail Dive
Kohl's on Friday said that President Sona Chawla will step down from that role in mid-October "to pursue new opportunities." The company didn't name a replacement, according to its press release.

Chawla's departure likely won't surprise many — in fact, some analysts have been more surprised that she stayed at Kohl's for as long as she did, considering that she was once viewed as taking over as chief executive herself.. . . more

Wendy's is launching breakfast nationwide in 2020 and will hire 20,000 new employees

USA Today
Wendy's is taking its breakfast menu nationwide in 2020 and will hire 20,000 new employees to support the morning meal, the company announced Monday.

The fast-food chain, which has been a holdout in the breakfast area among major national chains, currently has breakfast in 300-plus restaurants . . . more

Dollar Tree CEO on mitigating tariffs on Chinese imports: ‘We play hardball’

Dollar Tree
It might look easy, but Dollar Tree has used “a lot of discipline” over the past year to mitigate the impact of tariffs on the products the company sells, CEO Gary Philbin told CNBC on Monday.

He said the discount retailer has worked with vendors to adjust its approach to shipping products from China, where the U.S. earlier this month imposed a fresh round of duties on imports. Dollar Tree negotiated prices, canceled orders and diversified vendors in order to mitigate costs, Philbin said, and is keeping a watch on the impact of new tariffs.. . . more

Christmas Tree Shops exits a major sales channel

Chain Store Age
Christmas Tree Shops is making a significant change to its e-commerce strategy.

In an undated statement on its FAQ page, the retailer, best known for its bargain-priced home décor and seasonal items, says it is no longer selling products on its site. However, customers can still browse the site to find items sold in stores, as well as content such as product previews, trends and tips.

According to Christmas Tree Shops, customer desire for an exciting, unpredictable shopping experience led to its decision to curtail online sales.. . . more

Target to hire 130,000-plus workers for holidays to handle more online orders

While job growth has been slowing nationwide, Target Corp. is planning to once again boost its holiday hiring this year.

The Minneapolis-based retailer, one of the largest employers in the U.S., said Tuesday it will hire more than 130,000 seasonal workers in stores and distribution centers to help it stay on top of what it expects to be a busier holiday shopping season, especially when it comes to online orders.. . . more

Tractor Supply hits a store milestone

Chain Store Age
Tractor Supply Company’s expansion remains on track.

The rural lifestyle retailer has opened its 1,800 store, in Berkshire Township (Sunbury), Ohio. It is the 93rd Tractor Supply store in Ohio.

The company opened 80 new stores in 2018 and is continuing its strategic expansion in 2019, with 80 new store openings planned.. . . more

Monday, September 9, 2019

Amazon tops 53,500 local employees as it begins nationwide hiring push

Seattle Times
After a decade of torrid growth, Amazon now has more than 53,500 employees in its original headquarters region. It paid its local employees $9 billion last year.

On Monday, the commerce and technology giant is rolling out a new hiring push to fill some 10,000 openings in the Seattle area by 2020 — the majority for new positions rather than to backfill for attrition — as part of a larger national hiring initiative that includes job fairs next week here and in five other cities. . . . more

L Brands Investors Poised to Demand Answers After 35% Hammering

Many apparel retailers are having a rough go of it in 2019, but few have had as much trouble as L Brands Inc., the parent of embattled lingerie purveyor Victoria’s Secret.

From its outdated imagery to its stagnant sales, Victoria’s Secret was already in the hot seat with shareholders, culminating in a brief activist battle earlier this year -- and that was before founder Les Wexner’s ties to Jeffrey Epstein came under scrutiny.. . . more

Fred’s Bankruptcy Could Boost CVS, Walgreens Pharmacies

News Fred’s Inc. will sell its remaining pharmacy assets as part of its bankruptcy filing could benefit drugstore giants CVS Health, Walgreens Boots Alliance and potentially other retail pharmacy chains.

Fred’s Monday announced it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and will soon begin liquidating assets and selling off its pharmacies and related operations. The troubled Memphis retailer struggled to engineer a turnaround and failed to recover from an effort to expand deeper into personal healthcare under earlier management.. . . more

Macy's bets on 'Growth' stores

Retail Dive
Less than a month after reporting a bruising second quarter, Macy's said that it expects to fully complete the planned expansion of its Growth50 store remodels to an additional 100 locations this fall. CEO Jeff Gennette, speaking to analysts last month per a Motley Fool transcript, had promised the completion ahead of the holidays, noting that, all told, those 150 stores cough up half of the company's brick-and-mortar revenue.

The effort is part of the company's store strategy announced last year, a triad of concepts — flagships including its Herald Square icon, smaller neighborhood stores and the Growth "magnet" stores. . . . more

Target's back-to-school traffic hit 'torrid' pace in August

Retail Dive
Target's customer traffic is off to a "torrid" pace in the third quarter with sharp year-over-year spikes in the back-to-school season, according to research released this week by foot traffic analytics firm

The firm found that customer visits to Target the week of Aug. 12 jumped 27.5% above the retailer's baseline, well over the previous year's back-to-school bump.. . . more

The downside of tradition at Dillard's

Retail Dive
Dillard's, a relatively youthful department store at 81 years old compared to many of its peers founded in the 19th century, is a Southern institution with a support system that includes a loyal customer base, firm family control and a whole lot of real estate.

The Arkansas-based company runs 260 full-line stores and 29 clearance centers spanning 29 states, mostly in the South and Southwest. Like rival Nordstrom, Dillard family members (who have the added advantage of control through Class B stock) run the C-suite, with eight in key positions, including chief executive. Like Macy's and Hudson's Bay Co., it's a major property holder, owning some 44.3 million square feet out of the 49 million in its operations, according to its most recent annual report.. . . more

Neiman Marcus dreams up new e-commerce venture

Chain Store Age
Neiman Marcus Group is reportedly partnering with four luxury mattress brands for online sales.

According to the Dallas Morning News, the upscale department store chain is now selling exclusive selections from Aireloom, Royal-Pedic, Sferra, and Shifman via and its specialty furniture and décor site. Offerings include mattresses, which customers can also pair with complementary products such as pillows and pajamas. Mattress prices range from $2,000 to almost $20,000.. . . more

Friday, September 6, 2019

Ruby Tuesday closes more restaurants

Restaurant Business
At least nine Ruby Tuesday restaurants have closed in the past week, indicating the chain is still pruning weak stores from the system.

Most of the shuttered stores are located along the East Coast, from Massachusetts down to Delaware. Five are in New York. . . . more

Genesco’s Q2 earnings crush Street as Journeys continues to gain momentum

Chain Store Age
Footwear retailer Genesco Inc. reported second-quarter earnings and same-store sales that topped Street estimates, fueled by strong back-to-school sales at its teen-fave brand, Journeys.

The company, whose divisions include Journeys, Johnston & Murphy and Schuh, reported net income or $577,000 for the quarter ended Aug. 3, compared to a loss of $15,000 in the year-ago period.

Sales slipped to $486.6 million from $487.0 million, below estimates of $489.2 million. Same-store sales rose 3% ahead of Street expectations. Same-store sales increased 4% at Journeys and 1% at Johnston & Murphy. . . . more

Bed Bath & Beyond to refresh 160 stores in time for holiday; to announce new CEO soon

Chain Store Age
Bed Bath & Beyond detailed several short- and long-term initiatives as part of ongoing efforts to transform its namesake brand.

In a letter to shareholders, the struggling retailer said a “rapid refresh” of nearly 160 Bed Bath & Beyond stores is underway in advance of the upcoming holiday season. The company expect the “multi-million-dollar investment” to favorably impact the in-store shopping experience over the short term.

Bed Bath & Beyond also promised to close underperforming stores during the next couple of years to take advantage of its heavy lease expiration cadence.. . . more

For Many Retailers, Single Women Will Become the Make or Break Demographic, Morgan Stanley Study Finds

Single women might just single-handedly boost the success of retailers like Lululemon, Nike, TJ Maxx and Ulta Beauty, according to a new study by investment bank and financial services company Morgan Stanley. The study is called the “Rise of the SHEconomy.”

Morgan Stanley forecasts that by 2030, 45 percent, or 20.9 million, of U.S. women of prime working age (those between the ages of 25 and 44) will be single—the largest-ever share in history and up from 41 percent in 2018. . . . more

Macy's sees savings of up to $550 million from targeted promotions, better pricing

Macy’s Inc said on Thursday it aimed to save $400 million to $550 million annually in the next two to four years, as the department store chain cuts back on discounts, sending its shares up 5% in mid-day trading.

The 160-year-old company, which has been spending heavily on remodeling its stores and building off-price and online businesses, has relied on discounting to clear inventory, a move that has hurt its earnings. . . . more

Economy added disappointing 130,000 jobs in August, giving Fed another reason to cut rates

USA Today
Hiring slowed in August as employers added 130,000 jobs, further stoking recession fears and strengthening the Federal Reserve’s argument for another cut in interest rates this month.

The unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7%, just above a 50-year low, the Labor Department said Friday.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected 160,000 job gains.. . . more

Lululemon shares rise as growth in men's sales drives earnings beat

Lululemon on Thursday reported second quarter earnings that topped analysts’ expectations, sending the athletic apparel retailer’s shares up as much as 5% in after-hours trading.

The company also hiked its full-year outlook. CEO Calvin McDonald said in a statement he sees “significant runway” ahead, as Lululemon continues to push into new categories. . . . more

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Sears and Kmart keep shrinking. Here's what's left

CNN Business
Sears, the 133-year-old company that was once the jewel of American retail, continues its slow and precipitous decline. It keeps shuttering Sears and Kmart stores, even after emerging from a bankruptcy designed to salvage the company.

So far this year, Kmart has closed, or plans to close, about 60 stores, leaving fewer than 100 open. Sears has closed, or will close, more than 30 stores this year, reducing the number to fewer than 200. . . . more

American Eagle Outfitters’ Q2 beats Street amid strong Aerie sales

Chain Store Age
American Eagle Outfitters Inc. topped analysts’ estimates as its intimates brand Aerie marked its 19th consecutive quarter of double-digit growth.

The apparel retailer overcame a slow start to finish strong, but its same-store growth still came in below expectations and it offered weak guidance.. . . more

The Michaels Companies Announces Second Quarter 2019 Results

Yahoo Finance
Michaels net sales were $1,033.7 million compared to $1,053.3 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2018. The decrease in net sales was primarily due to the closure of the Pat Catan’s stores in fiscal 2018, partially offset by a 0.3% increase in comparable store sales and sales from the operation of 11 additional Michaels stores (net of closures) during the quarter. 

During the second quarter, the Company opened four new Michaels stores, closed two Michaels stores, and relocated one Michaels store. At the end of the second quarter of fiscal 2019, the Company operated 1,262 Michaels stores.. . . more

After 'bleak' Q2, prospects dim for department stores

Retail Dive
Moody's cut its forecast for department store profits after a "bleak" second quarter for the sector, according to a report released Tuesday and emailed to Retail Dive. The ratings agency now forecasts a 15% overall drop in operating income for the sector in 2019, after previously predicting a 10% decline.

Perhaps even worse, the sector's bad Q2 and predicted profit decline followed several department stores' "heavy investing to improve inventory efficiency and to build their online capabilities," Moody's analysts led by Christina Boni wrote in the report.. . . more

Apparel has an online returns problem

Chain Store Age
Returns are rampant in online fashion retail, but counterstrategies exist.

According to “Fashion Ecommerce Report: Consumer Trends & Strategies for Brands” from e-commerce marketing platform Yotpo, 88% of surveyed fashion shoppers admit to having returned fashion items purchased online in the past year, with 51% returning between 50 and 500 dollars’ worth of online fashion merchandise. Sixty-six percent of respondents say they order more items than they intend on keeping due to the ease of returns.. . . more

Duluth Trading CEO resigns for a top spot at Under Armour

Chain Store Age
There’s been a changing of the guard at Duluth Trading Company.

The men’s and women’s casual clothing and workwear brand announced that Stephanie Pugliese has resigned as president, CEO and board member (effective as of August 29). Less than 24 hours after Duluth Trading revealed that Pugliese had left, Under Armour announced that it had appointed Pugliese as president, North America.. . . more

The world’s largest Starbucks will open soon in Chicago

Chicago Tribune
The highly anticipated Starbucks Reserve Roastery Chicago is scheduled to open Nov. 15 on the Magnificent Mile, marking the last and largest of the chain’s grand coffee palaces.

The Chicago roastery, first announced more than two years ago, will open at 10 a.m. that day in a glassy 43,000-square-foot space formerly occupied by Crate and Barrel, at the corner of North Michigan Avenue and Erie Street.. . . more

Target tells suppliers to bear cost of Donald Trump’s tariffs

Boston Business Journal
Target has set the stage for contentious talks with the US retailer’s suppliers of Chinese goods, telling them it would refuse to “accept any cost increases related to tariffs” imposed by Donald Trump in his trade war with Beijing.

Hundreds of suppliers to the S&P 500 company received the warning in a memo sent last week, shortly before 15 per cent tariffs on $112bn of goods from China went into effect at the weekend.. . . more

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Walmart ending all handgun ammunition sales

Chain Store Age
Walmart has added more restrictions to its gun policy.

The world’s largest retailer announced that, after selling through its current inventory commitments, it will discontinue sales of short-barrel rifle ammunition such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber. The ammunition, which is commonly used in some hunting rifles, can also be used in large capacity clips on military-style weapons.

In addition, Walmart will sell through and discontinue handgun ammunition, and discontinue handgun sales in Alaska, marking its complete exit from handgun sales nationwide.. . . more

Build-A-Bear leans on 2K Walmart stores for annual teddy bear event

Retail Dive
For the first time, Build-A-Bear Workshop will partner with 2,000 Walmart stores across the United States in celebration of its National Teddy Bear Day.

The celebration, which begins Saturday and runs through Monday, will include various activities and entertainment at locations around the globe and the release of a limited-edition plush bear, according to a company press release.. . . more

How quitting tobacco reshaped CVS

USA Today
CVS's move to quit selling tobacco products in September 2014 was the catalyst in a makeover for a corporation known historically as a drugstore chain.

The company has opened more than 1,100 in-store clinics through the MinuteClinic brand, adopted a new concept store model called HealthHUBs after a pilot in Houston and acquired health insurer Aetna.. . . more