Thursday, April 9, 2020

Nordstrom warns financial situation could become distressed because of coronavirus-related store closures

CNBC
Nordstrom said its financial situation could become distressed if its stores stay dark for much longer because of COVID-19.

The retailer’s assessment of this crisis is one that many are likely dealing with, as businesses that sell nonessential goods such as apparel, shoes and luggage have reached an almost complete standstill. . . . more

COVID-19: The ultimate stress test for retailers

Retail Dive
Retailers who do not factor COVID-19 into their operations are facing an existential crisis.

Pandemics are an extreme version of business disruption. The new coronavirus strain is the latest reminder that companies need to plan and prepare for the unexpected in order to be resilient and flexible as a course of doing business.. . . more

Retail sales could remain down by double digits through 2021, Fitch says

Retail Dive
Against a backdrop of mass store closures and stay-at-home orders for much of the U.S., Fitch Ratings estimates discretionary retail spending to decline by up to 50% for the first half of 2020, according to an emailed report.

With a consumer downturn increasingly likely, Fitch estimates sales to remain in decline during the second-half of 2020, and for sales next year to be down as much as 10% from 2019 levels.. . . more

Faneuil Hall landlord reverses stance on April rent

Boston Business Journal
Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp., the operator of Boston’s famed Faneuil Hall, has reportedly given its retail merchants a reprieve on April rent following a conversation with Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, despite having told those retailers in recent days that it still expected payments despite the temporary shutdown of most businesses last month.

A day after a Boston Globe column said the New York-based company would not budge on charging retailers for the month, Walsh said he spoke with Ben Ashkenazy — whose net worth Forbes values at $3.5 billion — on Wednesday, and “asked him to provide immediate relief to the Faneuil Hall Merchants.”. . . more

Starbucks Sees 6 Months of Pain, Based on Its China Experience

Yahoo Finance
Starbucks Corp. said that a sharp slowdown from the coronavirus pandemic will worsen before getting better, with financial impact extending as far as September.

The company based its assessment on the tentative recovery in the Chinese market, Starbucks’ most important along with the U.S. The coffee chain went through social distancing and mandatory closures in the Asian nation earlier in the year, giving the company an early glimpse at how the situation would play out in the U.S. and elsewhere. . . . more

Costco's March same-store sales jump as coronavirus triggers surge in buying

Reuters
Costco Wholesale Corp reported a 9.6% jump in March comparable sales, as customers stocked up on essentials to weather coronavirus-led lockdowns.

U.S. comparable sales rose 10.7% for five weeks ended April 5, while e-commerce sales surged 48.3%, Costco said in a statement.. . . more

Coronavirus Has Shut Stores, and Retailers Are Running Out of Time

The Wall Street Journal
Retailers have furloughed hundreds of thousands of workers, cut executive pay and stopped paying rent, all to conserve cash. For the most indebted retailers, particularly those already struggling before the crisis began, those measures may not be enough.

Neiman Marcus Group Inc. and J.C. Penney Co., both of which have looming debt payments, have been reaching out to creditors in the hopes of buying more time, according to people familiar with the situation. Representatives for Neiman Marcus and Penney declined to comment.. . . more

Mass. grocery stores ordered to limit occupancy to 40 percent during coronavirus outbreak

WHDH
All Massachusetts grocery stores have been ordered to limit capacity to 40 percent until further notice in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Stores with a maximum occupancy of 25 people or less are exempt from the order.

Grocery staff will be required to monitor the number of customers who are entering and exiting stores. The maximum occupant count includes customers and employees. . . . more

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The consumer after COVID-19

Retail Dive
In the past several weeks, retailers haven't seen much of their customers.

Retailers and consumers alike remain focused on cutting short the impact of COVID-19, the disease that has swept the globe. At the moment in most locales, when people do venture out it's only for essential items from the few stores that are open, and these days their faces are often covered. Otherwise, shopping is accomplished online. ​

The extreme lockdown of today will be eased at some point, though it's not yet clear when. Perhaps even more uncertain is what the frame of mind of their erstwhile customers will be.. . . more

Pier 1 weighs bid that would close most — but not all — of its stores

Chain Store Age
Pier 1 Imports, which filed for bankruptcy protection in February, is expected to receive a revised purchase offer that would keep open less than 100 of the retailer’s 900-plus locations, reported Bloomberg.

The bid is from CSC Generation, whose DirectBuy subsidiary acquired the assets of Z Gallerie in a bankruptcy auction last summer. It comes as Pier 1’s bankruptcy court process has been put on hold while its stores are temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.. . . more

Panera Bread is selling groceries as restaurant sales plummet

CNBC
Panera Bread is selling groceries as housebound consumers eat fewer meals from restaurants.

Customers are able to order breads, bagels, milk, yogurt, cream cheese and fresh produce as part of an initiative that began Monday.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many restaurants to shutter their dining rooms temporarily. Restaurant transactions plunged 42% during the week ended March 29 compared with a year ago, according to the NPD Group. . . . more

Why are some mattress stores still open amid coronavirus pandemic?

USA Today
Would you lie down on a bed that someone else has tested during the coronavirus pandemic?

Some Americans apparently are doing just that, because certain mattress stores, including locations of the nation's largest mattress retailer, are still open during the COVID-19 crisis.

No. 1 seller Mattress Firm, which has more than 2,500 stores throughout the country, confirmed that some of its locations are still open and said it's taking necessary precautions to protects its employees and customers. . . . more

TJX to furlough thousands of workers due to coronavirus outbreak

WCVB
Framingham-based TJX is furloughing the majority of its hourly workers in its stores and distribution centers in the U.S. and Canada after Sunday.

TJX is the parent company of stores such as TJ Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, HomeSense and Sierra Trading Post. It has a global workforce of 286,000, mostly in the U.S. That’s more than double Macy’s workforce.. . . more

AMC Theatres Bankruptcy Rumors Grow, But That Move Wouldn’t Be The End Of The Chain Or The Biz

Deadline
In the wake of a S&P Global report that forecasted AMC Entertainment’s depletion of cash by mid-summer and its potential inability to re-open by June, media reports have already written the chain’s obituary.

While distribution and rival exhibition sources wouldn’t be shocked if AMC files Chapter 11 in the near future, that’s not necessarily a scarlet letter for the biggest theater chain in the world. Rather it’s the best thing that could happen for AMC which is saddled with $4.9 billion debt and currently valued at $327.3M. Last Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that lenders for the Leawood, KS-based chain have hired law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP for advice on expected restructuring negotiations. . . . more

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Stalled by coronavirus pandemic, American Dream rethinks its future and retail becomes an afterthought

CNBC
It is becoming even harder to call American Dream a megamall.

Instead, the roughly 3 million-square-foot development that sits alongside a bustling highway in East Rutherford, New Jersey, is morphing into more of an ultimate amusement park. More like Disneyland if it fit under one roof. With shifts in strategy over time, retail is becoming even more of an afterthought, while entertainment takes center stage.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic hitting the U.S., American Dream was slated to be a mix of 55% entertainment-related tenants and 45% retailers, when it was completely finished. Now, the project will be roughly 70% entertainment and 30% retail, according to its developer, Triple Five Group. . . . more

How Covid-19 could change fashion and retail, according to experts

Quartz
Nobody really knows what the world will look like on the other side of the Covid-19 pandemic. The only certainty is that it’s bound to be different. The crisis has already ushered the global economy into a recession, and seems poised to leave its mark on how consumers live, how they spend their money, and even how they dress.

Fashion, in fact, is one of the businesses most vulnerable to disruption from the outbreak since it relies so heavily on discretionary spending. Experts may not always agree on exactly how the pandemic will change different aspects of the industry. But the consensus is that it will, with many large-scale shifts that were already underway accelerating in the upheaval.. . . more

Walmart limits store traffic to 5 customers per 1K square feet

Retail Dive
Walmart has joined Target in limiting customer traffic in its stores.

In a corporate post on Friday, the retail giant said that effective Saturday it would not allow more than five customers per 1,000 square feet in its stores at any time, which would represent about 20% of its store capacity.
To do that, Walmart staff will set up a queue at the door. Once stores reach capacity, customers will be allowed in on a "1-out-1-in" basis. In many stores, Walmart will use floor markers to create one-way movement as part of its effort to encourage social distancing.. . . more

Customer Growth Partners analyzes impact of COVID-19 on retail sectors

Chain Store Age
Since March 1, the entire retail sector has undergone a huge sea change, with several major sectors seeing severe declines in business, even before virtually all specialty apparel and department stores closed the week of March 15, along with many other specialty stores. The apparel & accessories and department stores have been most challenged, across almost all formats and all price-points.

Meanwhile, a few sectors actually enjoyed a modest increase in trade over the year-earlier period (March 1-31)—notably the big-box discounters, smaller discounters and essential hardlines retailers that have not closed, as well as food and drug stores. . . . more

Pier 1 Joins Retailers Citing Court Ruling to Skip Rent

Bloomberg
Retailers have a new tool to use in the scuffle between landlords and tenants: a court ruling that could help them withhold rent.

Pier 1 Imports Inc. is the latest retailer to seize on the precedent, asking a judge to let it skip rent payments amid the coronavirus outbreak that has shuttered stores across the U.S. The judge overseeing Pier 1’s case signed an order approving the retailer’s request on Monday. . . . more

REI keeps stores shut and furloughs many of its workers for 90 days

Seattle Times
REI said it would keep its 162 retail locations shuttered and furlough many of its roughly 14,000 employees without pay for 90 days as the coronavirus pandemic continues to paralyze much of the bricks-and-mortar retail sector.

CEO Eric Artz, who announced the decision in a blog post Monday, said he and the Kent-based company’s board would forgo their own compensation for six months; senior executives will take a 20% pay cut and forgo any 2020 bonuses. Furloughed employees will continue to receive health benefits during the 90-day period, the company said. . . . more

Walgreens to open 15 drive-thru testing sites for the coronavirus across 7 states

CNBC
Walgreens said Tuesday that it plans to open 15 drive-thru testing locations for the coronavirus across seven states, starting later this week.

The sites will be in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas, the drugstore chain said in a news release. They will use Abbott Laboratories’ rapid COVID-19 test. . . . more

The Coronavirus Landlord-Tenant Playbook, Revealed

bisnow.com
The coronavirus is already taking a heavy toll on many real estate sectors. Millions of jobs and the future of thousands of businesses hinge on the outcome of negotiations between landlords and tenants in the wake of the March quarter day. 

For retail, leisure and serviced office tenants, the last few weeks of the coronavirus lockdown are just the beginning of what could be many months of problems paying the rent. . . . more

Monday, April 6, 2020

Coronavirus effect: Bankruptcies won’t save retail this time

CNBC
For retailers, facing an apocalypse isn’t anything new. What’s new is the fact that everyone else is too.

Retail has for years faced the challenges of slowing foot traffic, changing shopping patterns and online competitors that has caused an industry upheaval some analysts have deemed the “retail apocalypse.”

But as the coronavirus pandemic has ground U.S. business to a halt, the pain has spread far and wide to upstart retail brands, landlords, lenders and suppliers. With everyone in duress, landlords and creditors with the ability to pull the trigger that could put a retailer into bankruptcy have become gun shy.. . . more

To pay or not to pay: Retailers are making tough decisions on rent and other bills

Retail Dive
Last week, Urban Outfitters said publicly what many retailers are discussing in private: that it won't be paying rent. In the middle of a list of financial measures Urban said it was taking while its stores are closed, the apparel seller included the suspension of rent payments.​

The retailer followed the Cheesecake Factory in doing so. The restaurant chain said in a regulatory filing that it would not be paying rent on its leases for the month of April.. . . more

CVS Ramps Up Drive-Through Coronavirus Testing Sites With Faster Kits

New York Times
CVS Health Corp said that it will launch two new drive-through COVID-19 testing sites in Georgia and Rhode Island on Monday using new, faster tests than had previously been available, with up to four more locations to follow.

The company said both drive-through testing sites will use testing equipment made by Abbott Laboratories that can deliver results within minutes. It expects to be able to perform around 1,000 tests per day at each site. . . . more

Closed on Easter: Grocery stores including Trader Joe's, BJ's Wholesale Club will be closed because of COVID-19

USA Today
More retailers will be closed for Easter than in past years because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to the long list of companies that have temporarily shuttered stores due to COVID-19, some grocery stores that have traditionally kept their doors open on the holiday will be closed to give employees a day off.. . . more

Four predictions for post-pandemic retail success

Chain Store Age
The harsh lessons learned during the coronavirus (COVID-19) may be exactly what will help retailers to survive — and thrive — post-pandemic.

Currently, retail chains industry-wide continue to shore up capital by reducing operating hours, temporarily closing stores, and furloughing employees, among other measures. In fact, there were almost 62,000 temporary store closures by major retailers in the United States as of March 27, according to Coresight Research.. . . more

BJ’s limits in-store traffic to 20% of store’s total capacity

Chain Store Age
BJ’s Wholesale Club has joined other big-box retailers in limiting in-store traffic and implementing additional measures to support the health and safety of customers and employees during the current pandemic.

Starting April 4, the retailer will limit the number of members allowed inside its clubs at any one based on the square footage of each club. No more than 20% of a store’s total capacity will be allowed in the building at any given time. Also, when possible, all members are encouraged to send only one person per household to shop. . . . more

Chico's takes a ‘poison pill’ amid COVID-19 outbreak

Chain Store Age
Chicos’s FAS Inc. is the second retailer in recent days to adopt a limited duration shareholders rights plan after disruptions due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The women’s apparel retailer adopted the plan, the so-called "poison pill,” saying it was in the best interest of all its shareholders. The plan aims to guard against any individual or group gaining control of the company in the open market without paying a premium. . . . more

Friday, April 3, 2020

Target will provide workers masks, gloves, monitor number of shoppers in stores

StarTribune
Target Corp. said it will provide its 350,000-plus workers in stores and distribution centers with face masks and gloves at the beginning of each shift and will strongly encourage them to wear them while working.

The Minneapolis-based retailer also said Thursday it will start monitoring the number of shoppers in each store and limit them if necessary.. . . more

Hobby Lobby, Michaels and Joann argue they’re ‘essential,’ but judge is forcing them to close

Dallas Morning News
Arts and craft retailers Hobby Lobby, Joann Stores and Michaels have continued to operate, independently deciding that they are essential businesses in Texas and other states even as local governments are enforcing stay-at-home and shelter-in-place rules.

Asked on Thursday whether he plans to force Hobby Lobby to shut down, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said, “We’re doing it. Yes, we are. Today. Tonight. As we speak.”

Jenkins said his staff communicates with public officials in other states and discovered that “this was a bigger problem than just Dallas.” Other officials shared the cease-and-desist orders they had issued to Hobby Lobby stores.. . . more

Ulta Beauty to rein in new store openings, remodels

Chain Store Age
Ulta Beauty still plans to open new stores this year, but not as many as previously planned.

In a business update, the beauty giant detailed new actions it is taking to preserve financial liquidity while its 1,254 stores remain temporarily closed, including reducing capital expenditures, particularly with regards to new store openings. Ulta said it is working on an adjusted plan for new store openings, relocations and remodel projects for 2020. It still expects to open some new stores this year, but not as many as the 75 it had previously announced.. . . more

Neiman Marcus advances bankruptcy preparations

Reuters
Neiman Marcus Group is stepping up preparations to seek bankruptcy protection, after the coronavirus pandemic forced the debt-laden U.S. luxury department store chain to close its stores, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Neiman began holding confidential discussions this week with bondholders about possible financing that would help the company continue operating while under bankruptcy protection, the sources said. The company has also started similar discussions in recent days with its lenders, one of the sources said.

Up until this week, Neiman had received inquiries from creditors about its next moves but had not commenced discussions about a possible bankruptcy, some of the sources said. . . . more

Shoppers Cut Back Further, with Apparel Bearing the Brunt

Coresight Research
The latest US consumer survey from Coresight Research, undertaken on April 1, provides a weekly update on consumer behavior and sentiment amid the coronavirus crisis.
  • Some 52.6% are now extremely concerned about the outbreak, up 6.9 percentage points in a week.
  • Clothing and footwear is facing a crisis: This category sees the greatest number of consumers cutting spending, and the level of sales transfer to e-commerce is insufficient to offset the impact of store closures.. . . more

Everything is on the Table As Tenants and Landlords Talk About Rent Relief

Globe St.
As the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the US economy, commercial tenants and landlords around the US are engaging in conversations about rent relief. These are, to state the obvious, uncharted waters for many of these companies and they are feeling their way in how they handle these negotiations.

In a surprising number of cases, retail tenants are taking a positive stance, Naveen Jaggi, president of Retail Advisory Services at JLL Americas, told listeners on a recent webinar. “Some just can’t afford to pay the rent in April but others have paid their April rent or are offering some form of payback to the landlord in 2021.”. . . more

Conway wins Market Basket case

Conway Daily Sun
The state Supreme Court Thursday affirmed Conway Planning Board’s approval of plans for a Market Basket in North Conway. Now, the town and Settlers Green have to each win a court case before a new grocery store can be built.

The planning board in November of 2018 unanimously gave conditional site-plan approval to the owners of Settlers Green for a 69,845-square-foot Market Basket store between Barnes Road and Common Court.. . . more

Thursday, April 2, 2020

What Should Retail Borrowers Keep in Mind in Today’s Environment?

NREI
For the past few years, there has been a premium put on grocery-anchored retail transactions. These grocery-anchored retail transactions are holding up much better than non-grocery anchored properties in the COVID-19 environment. Many of our retail-focused clients who have grocery-anchored assets are going to be receiving percentage rents this year from their tenants. The inline tenants may not be able to make rent payments, but as long as the grocery anchor remains open and shoppers can secure supplies on-site or through a reasonable home delivery timeframe, this retail asset will generally perform.

Because we are in a totally different climate compared to the 2007 recession—a medical crisis causing an economic shock, not a financial crisis, lenders are going to be more focused on non-grocery-anchored asset performance. . . . more

Walgreens says it saw sales surge, then drop off as coronavirus pandemic keeps customers indoors

CNBC
Walgreens Boots Alliance said it saw a surge in sales and then a drop-off in March as the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the world and now keeps people indoors.

The international drugstore’s same-store sales were up 26% in the first 21 days of the month as people stocked up on prescriptions and other items, Global Chief Financial Officer James Kehoe said Thursday on the company’s fiscal second-quarter earnings call. Then, he said, they took a turn and in the last week of March, they were down by the mid-teens. . . . more

Kroger sales surge, but what's next

Cincinnati.com
Kroger disclosed Wednesday that shopper stockpiling during March drove monthly sales to shoot up roughly 30% excluding fuel – an unprecedented jump caused by the shopping frenzy amid the new coronavirus pandemic outbreak.

The nation's largest supermarket operator said February sales were already strong when COVID-19 fears began to push them even higher. . . . more

Traffic grinds to a halt for softline retailers, declines even for mass merchants

Retail Dive
Hundreds of malls and tens of thousands of stores have temporarily closed across the country as part of the broader effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Against that backdrop, equity analyst Kimberly Greenberger and her team at Morgan Stanley describe the "severe" 97.6% traffic decline they measured as "unsurprising."

They expect traffic to remain down by as much as 100% until stores reopen and government recommendations on social distancing loosen, which is likely to go on until "at least May," the analysts said.

As stores close, "eCommerce revenue growth does not appear to be offsetting lost store revenue," the analysts said in the note.​ . . . more

Massachusetts again shatters record for weekly unemployment claims

Boston Business Journal
Another 181,000 people in Massachusetts filed their initial claims for unemployment benefits last week, as more workers have made the claims in the past two weeks than did all of last year.

The new U.S. Department of Labor data measure claims filed from March 22 to March 28, a period that includes Gov. Charlie Baker’s order that non-essential businesses in Massachusetts close their brick-and-mortar locations as a way to limit the spread of COVID-19. That order went into effect March 24.. . . more

CT Coronavirus: Lamont Orders Changes For Grocery, Retail Stores

Patch
Gov. Ned Lamont's 20th executive order, which is designed to help slow down the spread of the new coronavirus, leads to new changes for retail establishments including grocery stores.

Lamont's order means that effective Friday, April 3, every retail establishment in the state will be required to take additional protective measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 between and among customers, employees, and other people such as delivery drivers and maintenance workers. . . . more

What do department stores do now?

Retail Dive
Every department store in America, from the low end to the high, has tried some way to drag the retail concept into the 21st century. It's a monumental task, considering the model was born in the 1800s, and enjoyed its last heyday in the 1950s. The effort has had mixed results. Now COVID-19 has introduced new urgency, and possibly new goals.

J.C. Penney partnered with Sephora, and later added, then dumped, appliance sales. Macy's and Nordstrom have each invested in retail's cutting edge, with varying degrees of success. Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus both saw potential in New York City, the turf of Saks Fifth Avenue, whose flagship has had a multi-million dollar renovation with a gleaming new escalator. Lord & Taylor agreed to ownership by an apparel rental company. Kohl's decided to take Amazon's returns to get new customers through the door. Several have embarked on turnarounds and even rebooted turnarounds (sometimes multiple times). . . . more

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Urban Outfitters says it won't pay rent

Retail Dive
Urban Outfitters on Tuesday said it won’t pay rent for an undisclosed amount of time and is delaying the opening of new stores, while existing stores remain "temporarily closed until further notice due to the continued spread of COVID-19."​

The company, whose brands include Anthropologie, Free People and Urban Outfitters, also said that beginning Wednesday "a substantial number of store, wholesale and home office employees" will be furloughed for 60 days, but will continue to get benefits.. . . more

J.C. Penney furloughs store and corporate staff as closures extend indefinitely

Retail Dive
J.C. Penney plans to furlough "the majority" of its hourly store associates beginning Thursday and a "significant portion" of its corporate staff beginning on April 5, the company said in a press release.

The retailer is also extending its temporary store closures, without a stated re-opening date. "The Company will continue to follow guidance from local, state, and federal officials as it anticipates gradually reopening stores and offices in markets when it is safe to do so," Penney said.. . . more

Macy's to drop from S&P 500 to small-cap index

Reuters
Macy's Inc will be removed from the benchmark S&P 500 stock index, the S&P Dow Jones Indices said on Tuesday, as coronavirus-induced store closures compound the retail sector's struggles with a shift to online shopping.

The company’s shares have plunged more than 70% so far this year, leaving Macy’s with a market value of $1.52 billion as of Tuesday’s close, according to Refinitiv IBES data. . . . more

New online store offers help to shuttered indie booksellers

Fortune
Andy Hunter, founder of a new online sales outlet for independent booksellers, had seen a crisis building well before the coronavirus pandemic shut down many of the country's stores.

“Between 2015 and 2018, I saw this big jump in the percentage of weekly sales for physical books that were going to Amazon.com," Hunter says. “And it seemed like independent bookstores needed to do something to adapt, because the writing was on the wall.”

In January, Hunter launched Bookshop.org, which offers everything from the new Hilary Mantel novel to such classics as Boccaccio's “The Decameron,” and shares proceeds with independent stores. . . . more

CRE Loan Defaults Soar Under Trepp Stress Test But Won’t Be as Bad as Great Recession

Globe St.
To gauge the impact of the COVID-19 disruption, Trepp has applied an economic and real estate forecast scenario to a portfolio of 12,500 commercial real estate loans.

The findings were perhaps to be expected: defaults are expected to increase, in some cases significantly.. . . more

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Traffic at Walmart, Costco and Target falls for the first time in weeks as coronavirus stockpiling behavior shifts

MarketWatch
Traffic at Walmart Inc., Costco Wholesale Corp. and Target Corp. dropped for the first time in the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic ramped up in the U.S., according to Placer.ai.

At each of the three retailers, traffic grew the last week of February and the first week of March.. . . more

Fast-food Chains Give Franchises Rent Deferrals, Other Assistance

Globe St.
Fast-food chains have been offering franchise owners assistance with rent and other payments to survive the coronavirus crisis. The most recent is Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of some 3,700 Tim Hortons and Burger King locations in Canada and the US, is helping its franchises with cash payments and rent deferrals for a total of $70 million.

For approximately 3,700 eligible locations that are controlled by Restaurant Brands, the company has temporarily converted its rent structure from a combination of fixed plus variable rent to 100% variable rent. It has also deferred rent payments for up to 45 days.. . . more

Retail furloughs snowball as Kohl's, Gap extend store closures

Retail Dive
Gap Inc. on Monday extended its store closures in North America and Europe past their previously announced April 1 reopening and furloughed 80,000 mostly store workers in the U.S. and Canada, "pausing pay but continuing to offer applicable benefits until stores are able to reopen."

Kohl's is similarly extending store closures "until further notice" and furloughing all store workers and some corporate workers affiliated with store operations, providing benefits but not pay past the previously announced two weeks. That affects some 85,000 employees, the company told Retail Dive.. . . more

Americans Adopting E-Commerce Faster Than Ever Amid Pandemic

NREI
The coronavirus pandemic is sparking enormous changes in e-commerce over a very short period of time, according to a study from Adobe Analytics.

Average daily online sales for groceries, for example, doubled by the middle of March compared with the start of the month, the study shows. Overall, e-commerce is up 25% over the same period, which compares March 13 to 15 with the first 11 days of the month. Using a longer view, grocery spending now represents 8% of overall e-commerce, up from 6% three years ago, Adobe Analytics said.. . . more

Malls Survived The Retail Apocalypse, But Coronavirus Threatens To Be Their Armaggedon

Forbes
On Sunday President Trump announced that federal social distancing measures will continue through the end of April. While he said that details of the extended recommendations would follow on Tuesday, it is likely that all non-essential stores, including malls, will remain closed till then.

These are necessary steps to save people’s lives, yet it may result in the death of many retailers. Malls, in particular, are at most risk in these days of social distancing.. . . more

Simon Property furloughs 30% of workforce

CNBC
The biggest U.S. mall owner, Simon Property Group, has furloughed about 30% of its workforce, CNBC has learned, as the company copes with all of its properties being temporarily shut because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The furloughs impact full- and part-time workers, at its Indianapolis headquarters and at its malls and outlet centers across the U.S., a person familiar told CNBC. . . . more

L.L.Bean CEO says Congress must do more to address ‘serious’ retail crisis

CNBC
Many U.S. retailers are facing a financial shock from the coronavirus that has yet to be fully addressed by Washington lawmakers, L.L.Bean CEO Stephen Smith said Monday.

“I think it’s a really serious situation, and I actually don’t think it’s getting enough attention,” Smith told CNBC’s Courtney Reagan on “Power Lunch.”

Smith said his concern was concentrated around “middle market retail” — not companies selling essential goods like groceries or small mom-and-pop stores. . . . more

Monday, March 30, 2020

Macy's furloughs most of workforce as COVID-19 takes its toll

Retail Dive
Macy's on Monday said that the measures announced last week to shore up its finances have helped but are "not enough," so it's placing most of its workforce on furlough beginning this week. That includes employees in its digital business, distribution centers and call centers, though there will be fewer furloughs in those areas. As of the fourth quarter, Macy's reported 125,000 employees.


At least through May, furloughed employees with health benefits will continue to receive coverage, with Macy's covering the entire premium. "We expect to bring colleagues back on a staggered basis as business resumes," per a company press release.. . . more

S&P downgrades TJX, Bed Bath & Beyond on weak post-COVID-19 economy

Retail Dive
S&P Global Friday downgraded two more retailers amid ongoing disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic. Both off-pricer TJX and home goods company Bed Bath & Beyond garnered negative outlooks as analysts anticipate a weak economy and spending declines after the pandemic subsides.

S&P lowered all of Bed Bath & Beyond's ratings, including its issuer credit rating, to "B+" from "BB," according to an emailed press release.. . . more

Rents coming due pose critical test for landlords and tenants

Chain Store Age
With most stores closed throughout much of the United States to help stem the spread of COVID-19, retail landlords are being inundated with requests for rent relief.

That’s according to The Lamy Group, which noted that, as the first week of April approaches, rents are due for the first time during the crisis, which will mark the start of a critical test for landlords and retail tenants alike. . . . more

Four long-term retail trends in post-COVID-19 world

Chain Store Age
Retailers are incredibly resilient. Despite everything that’s been thrown at the retail world (from economic turndowns to the threat of a literal apocalypse (it has the ingenuity and perseverance to rise above and emerge stronger.

During any stressful time, the temptation may be to focus on short-term performance via aggressive marketing and sales promotions. The smarter play, however, is to focus on the future.

Regardless of the overall impact of this Coronavirus pandemic, the cost of writing off the rest of 2020 and planning to hit reset next year is enormous. Instead, HIT RESET NOW. . . . more

Increased Demand for Warehouse Space and Labor Created by COVID-19 Could be a Long-Term Trend

NREI
As non-essential businesses are forced to close doors, some retail and e-commerce firms are ramping up hiring and operations in order to meet a surge in demand for necessities and home deliveries.

“There’s certainly good news and bad news happening in retail right now. We know that the bulking goods, the discount warehouses, the dollar stores, grocery stores are all doing very well. Most of those are national credit tenants, so if a tenant in your shopping center happens to be oriented towards value retail, or discount retail, or grocery, you should be pretty safe.” says Naveen Jaggi, president of retail advisory services at real estate services firm JLL.. . . more

Publix offering rent assistance to tenants in its shopping centers

Tampa Bay Times
Publix is offering rent relief to its tenants who have closed their businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Lakeland-based grocer is waiving rent for two months to businesses that operate in shopping centers that Publix owns, according to a news release. Publix is also waiving maintenance fees and taxes, regardless of the tenant’s access to other relief.. . . more

Concern for industry's future follows halt of Mass. recreational marijuana sales

Boston Business Journal
Earlier this month, a letter was reportedly distributed to employees of Cultivate Holdings, a medical and recreational marijuana dispensary in Leicester.

The letter dated, which was March 18 and was obtained by MassLive, noted that the outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, was rapidly evolving. The letter offered some options to employees: continue working, stay home and get well, or stay home and collect.. . . more

US retailers teeter on the brink as 630,000 outlets close

Boston Business Journal
Few businesses are in greater need of emergency cash than retailers, yet the $2.2tn US stimulus bill is unlikely to prevent bricks and mortar chains hardest hit by the coronavirus shutdown from going to the wall.

While Amazon, Walmart and a handful of other operators have the chance to emerge from the crisis in a stronger position thanks to a boom in online deliveries and the rush for household essentials, much of the rest of the sector is facing a historic crunch.. . . more

Friday, March 27, 2020

COVID-19: Where the retail real estate industry is headed (ICSC members only)

ICSC
The shopping center industry has never faced a crisis like the global COVID-19 pandemic, and the situation is changing so fast that stakeholders can point to few, if any, hard-and-fast guidelines.

Experts say three imperatives do stand out, however: Do everything you can to keep your people safe; make sure internal and external lines of communication stay open; and collaborate with each other to the greatest extent possible. . . . more

Michaels, Gap, At Home, Container Store among latest downgrades on pandemic disruption

Retail Dive
Credit downgrades on retail companies have accelerated this week as the industry weathers unprecedented store closures and a precarious economy caused by the spread of COVID-19.

In the course of one day on Thursday, S&P Global downgraded four retail companies: Michaels (to a B rating), At Home Group (to CCC+), The Container Store (to B-) and Spectrum Brands (to B), according to emailed press releases. The pandemic was mentioned in all four press releases.. . . more

COVID-19 impacts retailers on products, personalization, people

Chain Store Age
A closer look at the recent Chain Store Age COVID-19 survey reveals some very specific areas where the pandemic is disrupting operations.

The online survey, conducted online via the Chain Store Age site, asked readers four questions about what impact, if any, the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is having on their enterprise in the areas of fulfillment, sales, store operations, and workforce management. . . . more

GameStop Set To Close 300 More Stores This Year

IGN
GameStop is set to permanently close 300 more stores in the coming year.

The news arrived in an earnings call conducted by the company, which shed light on GameStop's financial situation. It was revealed that the company "plans to meet or exceed" the number of closures that occurred in the previous fiscal year, which saw 321 shops close their doors. The retailer currently has 5,500 operational stores across the US. . . . more

Gap pulls forecast, suspends dividend, taps $500 million credit as coronavirus bites

Reuters
Gap Inc on Thursday withdrew its full-year forecast issued just two weeks ago, suspended its dividend and said it will draw down on its entire $500 million credit facility as the apparel retailer looks to weather the coronavirus crisis.

The disruptions caused by the health crisis mark the latest headache for newly named Chief Executive Officer Sonia Syngal as she tries to revive demand for its apparel in a competitive market plagued by slowing footfall in malls.. . . more

GNC has stayed open amid confusion around 'essential' retail. Some employees feel unsafe.

Retail Dive
As more than 100 retailers close up shop temporarily or reduce hours as part of the effort to slow the COVID-19 epidemic, GNC is keeping its doors open, including in areas with restrictions on resident movement and on which businesses can open their doors.

The vitamin and supplement retailer has instructed its employees to stay open and inform authorities that they are an "essential" business, as a retailer of food and beverages, under Department of Homeland Security guidelines, according to an internal letter from GNC general counsel Susan Canning ​obtained by Retail Dive​. . . . more

Hiring expands at Stop & Shop, Lidl, Aldi to meet coronavirus demands

Supermarket News
Stop & Shop, Aldi U.S. and Lidl US are expanding hiring as grocery retailers nationwide seek extra hands to help with surging consumer purchases and stronger health safety measures amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Quincy, Mass.-based Stop & Shop said Thursday it plans to hire at least 5,000 new associates for regular part-time jobs in stores, distribution centers and delivery operations in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. . . . more

Restaurant Leases In the Time of Quarantine – What are the Obligations Now?

Modern Restaurant Management
It is not surprising that under the current circumstances, restaurants are seeking help to understand their lease obligations. Can they close their restaurant? Can they stop paying rent? The short answer is possibly yes, but not in every instance.

Each case is different, so it is important for restaurant owners to consult with a real estate attorney about their own particular situation. This article will present some ideas to consider in that evaluation.. . . more

Thursday, March 26, 2020

How retailers stay afloat during unprecedented mass closures

Retail Dive
Across the U.S. this week, many thousands of stores and hundreds of malls lay dark, as the country tries to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Around 100 retailers have closed all or a significant fraction of their stores.

To state the obvious: American retail as we know it has never gone through an event like this, not at this scale or magnitude. That means the playbook is being written on the fly.. . . more

What Retailers Will Be Left Standing After the Coronavirus Pandemic Ends?

NREI
As much of the U.S. goes on lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19, many in the retail and restaurant sectors are taking a major blow.

One-third of Americans are currently under a shelter-in-place order. Shopping, except for groceries and necessities (deemed “essential services”), has pretty much ceased. Malls, theaters, gyms and other recreational venues are temporarily closed. Nike, Apple, Kohl’s, H&M and other big chains have temporarily shuttered stores.. . . more

Though coronavirus-driven uncertainty reigns, Lowe’s CEO says business is holding up

Fortune
Like many retailers that sell items considered essential, Lowe’s is seeing some benefit from the coronavirus outbreak (beyond just being able to keep stores open).

Shoppers are buying large appliances like freezers and refrigerators to store food they’ve purchased in preparation for staying home for extended periods of time, says Lowe’s chief executive Marvin Ellison.. . . more

REIT Pricing Suggests CRE Values Have Repriced Lower

Globe St.
Many investors are hitting the pause button, at least for the short-term, as the pandemic plays out. Market volatility and a general uncertainty are surely contributing factors to the decision, but in addition, it has become challenging to price deals in the current market and face-to-face interaction has come to a halt.

“No one knows what pricing is right now. How do value a home right now? How do you value a regional mall right now? There is a lot of skepticism in the market, and no one knows how to value anything,” David Shulman, senior economist at UCLA Anderson, tells GlobeSt.com.. . . more

US jobless claims hit 3.3 million, quadruple previous record

Associated Press
Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — more than quadruple the previous record set in 1982 — amid a widespread economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus.

The surge in weekly applications was a stunning reflection of the damage the viral outbreak is inflicting on the economy. Filings for unemployment aid generally reflect the pace of layoffs.. . . more

Essential? Retailers like Guitar Center and Michaels think they are

Boston Business Journal
At some Guitar Center stores, employees are still allowing customers to try out models of guitars. Dillard’s, a department store chain popular in the South, is still welcoming shoppers looking for clothing and makeup. And Michaels, the arts and crafts chain, says it is keeping many of its stores open to provide supplies to parents teaching their homebound children. “We are here for the makers,” the retailer said in an email to one concerned customer.

In states hit hard by the coronavirus, like New York and California, governors and mayors have mandated the closure of all but the obviously essential stores, like supermarkets and pharmacies. And the Department of Homeland Security has laid out guidelines for businesses across the country to follow when deciding whether to stay open, even in regions not known to be hot spots for the virus. The agency is careful to note that its definition of a “critical” work force is not an official standard, leaving it up to corporations to decide for themselves.. . . more

Senate Passes $2 Trillion Stimulus Bill That Includes Relief For Retail, Hotels, Multifamily

bisnow.com
The Senate, voting unanimously just before midnight Wednesday evening, passed the economic aid package. The bill had been expected to pass that afternoon, but it was delayed after a group of Republican senators aired objections about its unemployment insurance provisions. The House of Representatives is expected to vote Thursday before sending the bill to the White House.

 Parts of the measure are aimed at providing relief in the form of loans to real estate sectors particularly hard hit by the emergency, especially hotels and restaurants.. . . more

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Amazon workers test positive for covid-19 at nine U.S. warehouses

Washington Post
The U.S. coronavirus outbreak has spread to at least nine Amazon warehouses, infecting workers racing to deliver massive volumes of packages for consumers leery of leaving their homes to shop.

In the past few days, Amazon workers tested positive for covid-19, the disease caused by the novel virus, two in New York City; Shepherdsville, Ky.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Katy, Tex.; Brownstown, Mich.; Oklahoma City; Moreno Valley, Calif.; and Wallingford, Conn., according to Amazon and local media reports. In some cases, Amazon shut down facilities for cleaning, and some co-workers who were in close contact with their infected colleagues have been quarantined.. . . more

How small retailers are coping with the pandemic

Retail Dive
Jennifer Rockwell was working in her secondhand apparel shop in downtown Portland, Maine, last week, scrambling to figure out how she could sell online after closing down just days before. The store, Material Objects, is all set for the spring fashion season and normally bustling with shoppers who come in frequently to discover her most recent finds. On Friday, it was empty save for her two huskies.

"I think we were naively thinking we were going to continue with business as usual as recently as last Friday," she told Retail Dive in an interview. . . . more

Pier 1 implements furlough program across business; slashes pay for execs

Chain Store Age
Pier I Imports is temporarily laying off a large number of its employees and reducing pay for those that remain to help mitigate the financial impact of COVID-19.

The struggling home goods retailer, which filed for bankruptcy protection in February and is pursuing a sale, has implemented a furlough program that includes approximately 65% of home office associates and for certain store and distribution employees. The program is in effect until further notice.. . . more

Pandora taps H&M veteran to lead retail turnaround

Chain Store Age
Pandora has appointed Martino Pessina to the newly established role of chief commercial officer, effective April 2.

Pessina joins the Copenhagen-based jewelry retailer from fast-fashion giant H&M. where he served as president, North America. Pessina has spent close to 20 years in different roles at H&M and been in charge of retail, sales, merchandising, operations and global expansion.. . . more

Target redoes year's plan as sales surge 20% mainly because of coronavirus

StarTribune
Target’s sales have spiked more than 20% this month from people stocking up on food and household supplies, yet the disruption caused by the coronavirus means the retailer is putting on hold or postponing its plans for the year, Target CEO Brian Cornell said.

The Minneapolis-based company will scale back the number of remodels and new stores opened, as well as adding fresh groceries and alcohol to its pickup services. . . . more

Some Retail Stores That Closed Due to the Coronavirus Might Never Reopen

Footwear News
Store closures could be poised to hit a new high in 2020 as retailers contend with the coronavirus crisis.

According to a report released today by Coresight Research, there could be more than 15,000 gross store closures in the U.S. this year — up from a record-high 9,548 closures in 2019.. . . more

Apple hoping to reopen retail stores next month

Tech Radar
Apple has revealed that it expects to gradually re-open its retail stores around the world in the first half of April.

The Cupertino based tech company had temporarily shuttered its stores across the globe due to the coronavirus threat and was planning to re-open them by March 27, but has now delayed the phase openings another week. . . . more

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

GNC downgraded after saying it probably can't pay its debt

Retail Dive
S&P Global downgraded GNC following a regulatory filing by the supplement retailer that acknowledged the company does not expect to have the cash to repay some of its debt that matures in less than a year. Because of that, GNC also added "going concern" language to the fling, saying there was "substantial doubt" that it would be able to continue operating over the next 12 months.

S&P analysts said that, in their view, a default on or restructuring of debt is "inevitable" given that the company admits it does not have the cash to pay it back.. . . more

Old Restaurant Chains Get a Second Look from Quarantined America

NREI
Decades-old pizza and chicken-wing chains are seeing a revival thanks to confined U.S. consumers. Exhausted parents and bored 20-somethings are turning to older restaurant chains like Papa John’s International Inc. and Wingstop Inc. for delivery and takeout in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that’s forced people to stay at home.

Brands that were flagging last year are now hiring as fast as they can.

Papa John’s on Monday said it’s adding 20,000 workers who can interview and potentially even start that same day. Domino’s Pizza Inc. is hiring, too. . . . more

Retail is having its worst month ever, and chart analyst warns against buying on weakness

CNBC
Retail stocks are getting pummeled as the coronavirus outbreak worsens and swaths of the country enter a lockdown.

The XRT retail ETF has fallen 33% in March, its worst month ever. Some of its components have performed even worse — Kohl’s, Macy’s, and Guess have all dropped by more than 60%.

Ari Wald, head of technical analysis at Oppenheimer, said this is an extension of broad underperformance stretching back years, and that it could get worse.. . . more

Neiman Marcus Considers Bankruptcy to Ease Crushing Debt Load

Bloomberg
Neiman Marcus Group Inc., the luxury retailer that’s been struggling to ease its $4.3 billion debt load, is talking with lenders about filing for bankruptcy, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

No formal decisions have been made, but Neiman Marcus has held initial talks with lenders about a potential bankruptcy loan that would keep the company running while it works out a recovery plan, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing a private matter. . . . more

Walmart, Walgreens, Rite Aid open COVID-19 testing sites

Chain Store Age
Walmart, Walgreens and Rite Aid have opened their first drive-thru coronavirus testing site.

The sites, similar to the testing site that opened in the parking lot of a CVS Health store in Shrewsbury, Mass., are being launched in partnership with the federal government. The Walmart sites are located in the parking lots outside a Walmart Supercenter in Northlake, Ill., and one in Joliet, Illinois. Rite Aid's testing site is in the parking lot of its store in Philadelphia's Oak Lane section.. . . more

COVID-19 reveals fulfillment, workforce, store challenges

Chain Store Age
A Chain Store Age survey reveals how COVID-19 is disrupting retail workflows including sales, customer experience, supply chain and workforce management.

The online survey, conducted online via the Chain Store Age site from March 19-22, asked readers four questions about what impact, if any, the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is having on their enterprise. Here are the results. . . . more

COVID-19 has split impact on retail performance

Chain Store Age
COVID-19 is having a negative impact on sales for some retailers and is a boon for others.

Chain Store Age conducted a survey online from March 19-22 asking retailers about how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting retail workflows throughout the enterprise. A leading 39% of respondents said it has had a negative impact on sales. However, a combined 38% reported the virus has been a “goldmine” (18%) or created significant uptick (20%). . . . more

Monday, March 23, 2020

Joann downgraded as pandemic disruption looms

Retail Dive
Joann joined Party City last week in receiving a downgrade into C-territory from S&P, in part on COVID-19 concerns.

S&P analysts Pasha Azadmard and Diya Iyer said they expect pressure on Joann's revenue for at least a full quarter, given that the retailer has already been forced by various government orders to close more than 45 of its stores.

"At stores that remain open, we expect steep traffic declines in the double-digit percent area in the coming weeks as consumers practice social distancing," the analysts said. . . . more

Dollar Tree hiring 25,000 employees; 7-Eleven to add 20,000 jobs

Chain Store Age
Dollar Tree and 7-Eleven have joined the list of grocers, retailers and restaurant chains that are ramping up their hiring efforts to keep up with consumer demand in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The discounter plans to hire 25,000 full- and part-time associates at Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores and distribution centers across the U.S. The open positions include full- and part-time managers at the company’s more than 15,000 store locations, along with flexible part-time shifts for cashiers and stockers. . . . more

A First Look at Legal Issues in Leases, Thanks to Coronavirus

Commercial Observer
Property owners and tenants have been calling their lawyers with lots of questions about today’s global pandemic. Here is a quick overview of many of those questions, and the answers we are generally giving. All of this, however, is new territory. The legal summaries here should not be relied upon. Each situation depends on its specific circumstances, including, above all, the wording of documents. But the issues and exposures are all genuine.

Rent Holiday? Many tenants face a complete elimination of revenue for an extended time, yet their lease continues, including the obligation to pay rent. Even if they have cash reserves, which most small tenants don’t, they want to hold on to cash as much as possible. Many tenants have been opening conversations with property owners, requesting rent relief. A rent deferral doesn’t help; it just defers the pain.. . . more

Eating Out May Never Be the Same in U.S.

NREI
Coronavirus is sending Americans back home for dinner, creating a crisis for a restaurant industry that was already slowing down.

The viral outbreak is wreaking havoc as diners isolate themselves at home and states restrict operations to carryout and delivery only. Large swaths of the industry are facing weeks, or perhaps months, with reduced or nonexistent revenue.. . . more

GameStop Finally Closes Stores To Customers

Kotaku
GameStop will close all of its stores to customers tomorrow, switching to a “delivery at the door” service for locations that remain open, company CEO George Sherman said in a letter to employees today that was obtained by Kotaku.

Shoppers will be able to order games online, by using the GameStop app, or with QR codes at stores. They can then pick the games up curbside at stores that remain open through the coronavirus pandemic. Some states, like California and Nevada, have forced the struggling retailer to shut down its locations entirely, despite GameStop’s protests.. . . more

CVS to hire 50,000 workers, gives bonuses to employees amid coronavirus pandemic

USA Today
CVS Health is hiring 50,000 workers and delivering bonuses to employees who are required to work on-site during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company's CVS Pharmacy locations remain open during the COVID-19 crisis.

CVS is giving workers bonuses of up to $500. Eligible recipients include pharmacists, store employees and managers.. . . more

Best Buy moves to curbside pickup only as it sees surge in orders for home office equipment

The Verge
Starting today, Best Buy is limiting its US stores to “contactless” curbside service, allowing only employees into its stores, according to a statement from the company. Orders placed on the Best Buy website or via its app will be delivered to customers’ cars outside its stores by employees.

The curbside system includes returns and exchanges, and in an email to customers, Best Buy says “if, for any reason, you didn’t order the product in advance and the product is in stock in the store, one of our employees will be more than happy to go get it in the store and sell it to you while you remain in your car.” Best Buy has suspended its in-home installations and repair services, as well as its product trade-in and recycling services.. . . more

Friday, March 20, 2020

National Retail Federation: Expand ‘essential retail’ to include pet stores, truck rest stops and more

CNBC
A major retail trade group is asking the White House to clarify guidance from federal health officials and help keep key businesses like pet stores, truck rest stops and distribution centers open.

In a letter to President Donald Trump on Thursday, the National Retail Federation’s CEO Matthew Shay said some state and local officials are ordering retailers to shut down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus – but also closing businesses that should stay open.. . . more

Bed Bath & Beyond closing half of its stores due to coronavirus pandemic. Will your store stay open?

USA Today
Bed Bath & Beyond is temporarily closing 800 stores due to the coronavirus pandemic, but plans to keep approximately 700 "essential" stores open with reduced hours.

The New Jersey-based home goods retailer announced Thursday that it will close stores without health and beauty departments on Friday until April 3.. . . more

Walmart to hire 150,000 workers as shoppers surge on coronavirus fears

Reuters
Big-box retailer Walmart Inc said on Thursday it would hire more than 150,000 hourly workers in the United States, citing a jump in shoppers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rival Amazon.com Inc made a similar move earlier this week, announcing it would hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the United States as the virus outbreak boosts online orders. . . . more

Taubman Centers temporarily closing all but two of its properties

Chain Store Age
Taubman Centers has gone dark in response to COVID-19 with the exception of two outdoor centers.

The real estate investment trust said its malls closed at the end of business on March 19 and will remain shuttered through March 29, or later if required by state or local government. Tenants at the company’s open-air, street-front retail centers – Country Club Plaza (Kansas City, Mo.) and International Market Place (Waikiki, Hawaii) – may continue to operate. The announcement comes on the heels of Simon’s decision to close all of its retail properties in the U.S. until March 29.. . . more

Zumiez Uncertain How Social Distancing Will Impact Sales

SGB Media
Zumiez Inc.’s fourth-quarter earnings came in better than expected and momentum continued into February. Sales are generally holding up well in its home state of Washington despite the coronavirus although officials aren’t sure to what extent social distancing will hurt sales.
On the Q&A session the company’s conference call on March 12, Zumiez’s officials were asked to what degree online sales would make up for in-store sales with the calls for social distancing.

Rick Brooks, CEO, said the answer depends on reach retailer’s connections with consumers. He noted that Zumiez’s stores remain key ingredients to its connection with customers. . . . more

Facing cash crunch, J. Jill borrows $33M from lenders

Boston Business Journal
J. Jill Inc. has borrowed $33 million from its lenders — near the limits of its line of credit — as the struggling women’s clothing retailer grapples with the loss of revenue from stores closed by the coronavirus.

The Quincy-based company is drawing down the majority of a $40 million revolving credit facility “as a precautionary measure,” it said in a securities filing Wednesday. J. Jill closed all of its stores on Wednesday because of the coronavirus outbreak, and they will remained closed through at least March 27. As of the end of 2019, it had more than 280 stores nationwide. . . . more

TJX shuts down stores and online businesses

Boston Business Journal
The TJX Cos. is temporarily shutting down all U.S. stores and shuttering its online businesses, the Framingham-based discount retail giant said Thursday.

Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, the parent company of several retailers, including T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, said the closures go into effect today and are scheduled to last two weeks.. . . more

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Distressed retailers struggled with falling sales for years — and then came coronavirus

Retail Dive
Retailing has been plenty difficult for the past several years. Of the dozens of retailers to file for bankruptcy since 2016, many if not most of them described in court papers a landscape that suddenly shifted. Consumers changed their habits, and traffic to stores fell just as suddenly and confoundingly.

Those trials might ultimately seem quaint compared to the massive disruption the spread of COVID-19, and the measures taken to slow it, are bringing to the industry.. . . more

Retail Investment Sales Volume Was Already Down Before Coronavirus Hit. What Will Happen Now?

NREI
As the world struggles with the impact of the coronarvirus pandemic, the question looms how it will affect U.S. commercial real estate as there are more quarantines, limited gatherings, travel restrictions and closings.

Bricks-and-mortar retail has already been grappling with overwhelming changes in consumer shopping behavior. A record 9,300 stores closed in the U.S. in 2019, reported global marketing research firm Coresight Group, shattering the previous record of roughly 8,100 stores in 2017. . . . more

Best Buy putting limit on in-store traffic to 10 to 15 customers at a time

Chain Store Age
At a time when consumers are more reliant on technology than ever before, Best Buy is taking action to keep up with consumer demand and help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The nation’s largest consumer electronics retailer said that starting Monday, March 23, and at least for the next two weeks, it will serve customers through limited access to its stores and curbside pickup. . . . more

Home Depot temporarily adjusts store hours, extends paid-off time in response to COVID-19

Chain Store Age
It’s not only grocers and Amazon that are selling high-demand items during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Home Depot said its stores will now close daily at 6 p.m. (opening hours will remain unchanged) to give stores the ability to staff appropriately and provide additional time to perform cleaning and restock shelves to keep up with demand. . . . more

Retailers adjust store hours, focus on employees amid COVID-19 outbreak

Drug Store News
The impact of COVID-19 is being felt globally, and retail is no exception. As the number of cases in the United States continues to increase, the industry is taking steps to keep stores safe for consumers and associates while still serving as a resource.

All three of the nation’s leading drug chains — CVS Pharmacy, Rite Aid and Walgreens have undertaken efforts to improve access to prescription delivery, waiving fees. . . . more

Simon closing malls, including Copley Place, through March 29

Boston Business Journal
Simon Property Group Inc., one of the country’s biggest retail landlords, is closing all of its domestic retail properties, malls, outlets and mills, the Indianapolis-based company said Wednesday.

"The health and safety of our shoppers, retailers and employees is of paramount importance and we are taking this step to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities," said David Simon, chairman, president and CEO of Simon Property Group (NYSE: SPG), in a statement.. . . more

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Retailers brace for the impact of coronavirus

Retail Dive
In response to the rapidly changing climate and uncertainties surrounding COVID-19, many retailers have taken action. For some, like Macy’s, Apple and Sephora, that means temporarily closing their doors to help reduce the spread of the virus. For others, like Walmart, Target and Dollar General, it means adjusting shopping hours in order to give associates more time to restock and clean stores.

As the general public is advised to reduce the size of groups they interact with — from no more than 250 people, to 50 and most recently, from President Trump, to avoid groups larger than 10 — consumers are beginning to forego shopping for nonessential items.. . . more

Shopping-Center Owners Urge Trump to Provide Relief

NREI
A trade group representing shopping-center owners is urging the Trump administration to provide relief to retailers, restaurants and landlords as the coronavirus pandemic shuts down commerce around the U.S.

The government should guarantee or pay for business-interruption coverage, the International Council of Shopping Centers said Tuesday in a letter to President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Store closures “are placing an insurmountable strain on our members, and we believe federal government action is urgently needed,” the group said in its letter. . . . more

In the Short Term, CRE Will Take a Hit. But Real Estate Economists Advise Investors Not to Panic

NREI
As the impact from the measures to stem the spread of COVID-19 takes hold of virtually every sector of the U.S. economy, real estate economists are revisiting their predictions for 2020 made at the beginning of the year.

Just over two months ago, industry economists were saying 2020 activity should largely mirror the level seen in 2019. But with the coronavirus outbreak, those predictions are changing.. . . more

Costco aims to lift online sales with $1 billion purchase of logistics firm

Seattle Times
Costco announced Tuesday that it has acquired logistics firm Innovel Solutions for $1 billion in cash in a bid to boost the warehouse-club operator’s online sales.

Innovel was a subsidiary of Transform Holdco — which operates Sears and Kmart stores — and provides “final mile” delivery and installation of bulky items such as appliances, furniture and TVs for Sears and other retailers in the United States and Puerto Rico, Costco said. Issaquah-based Costco, with 786 warehouse clubs worldwide, has been an Innovel customer since 2015.. . . more

Best Buy sees uptick in sales of work-at-home equipment

StarTribune
Toilet paper isn’t the only item selling swiftly in stores.

Richfield-based Best Buy has also seen an uptick in sales of devices to make it easier to work from home. Think keyboards, monitors, webcams and laptops.

This week, an increasing number of companies around the U.S. have begun telling their employees to work from home if they can. . . . more

Why The Cannabis Retail Rollout In Boston Has Been So Slow

bisnow.com
Boston’s first recreational cannabis retailer opened its doors last week — more than three years after Massachusetts residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana use in the state. 

It took so long, industry experts told Bisnow, because political roadblocks and a unique regulatory structure are slowing down business approvals and holding Massachusetts back from a recreational cannabis windfall. . . . more

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Life Isn’t Just About Money, Says CEO of Mall Owner Down 99%

Bloomberg
Shares of CBL & Associates Properties Inc. are down 99% from their peak, but Stephen Lebovitz is undeterred.

After all, he started working at the family business in the middle of the savings and loan crisis. When he succeeded his father as chief executive officer two decades later, the 2008 financial crash was still reverberating throughout the U.S. economy.

Now he faces perhaps his most seminal challenge yet: To convince Americans who increasingly shop online that they should keep coming to CBL’s malls -- even as the coronavirus spreads across the U.S. -- and persuade Wall Street that the effort will work.
. . . more