Friday, February 28, 2020

J.C. Penney Q4 tops Street but warns sales decline will continue in 2020

Chain Store Age
J.C. Penney is not expecting much relief anytime soon in its sales performance.

The struggling retailer on Tuesday reported better-than-expected sales and earnings for its fourth quarter even as its sales continued to decline. Penney said it expects same-store sales in fiscal 2020 to be down 3.5% to 4.5%, excluding any impact from the coronavirus outbreak. . . . more

Wayfair’s losses mount to nearly $1 billion in 2019

Chain Store Age
Wayfair Inc. can’t seem to find a way to be profitable even as its sales continue to surge.

The e-commerce home furnishings giant, which has never reported a profit, posted a net loss of $330.2 million in the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared to a loss of $143.8 million in the year-ago period. For the full year, Wayfair’s annual net loss almost doubled, to $985 million. . . . more

Foot Locker plans 20 new power stores and 125 remodels in 2020

Retail Dive
After opening 6 power store locations in 2019, Foot Locker plans to open 20 more of the store format in 2020 across the U.S. and internationally, CEO Dick Johnson said on a conference call with analysts.

He also noted that the company is planning to remodel or relocate 125 stores, 110 of which will be at the retailer's core store locations. The athletics brand also plans to open 65 new stores in 2020 and close 150 globally, impacting mostly Foot Locker U.S. and Europe, as well as Runners Point. . . . more

Walmart is quietly working on an Amazon Prime competitor called Walmart+

When Amazon launched a funky membership program called Amazon Prime in 2005, Walmart boasted larger profits than Amazon had revenue. Fifteen years later, though, Prime is the key reason for Amazon’s dominance over Walmart in online sales.

That pressure has pushed the traditional retailer to burn tens of billions of dollars to fight back while its executives have cycled through various stages of reaction to Prime’s ascent: denial, followed by meek competition, followed by a reversal that seemed to signal Walmart wanted to stick to a free, no-membership strategy.. . . more

Baker's HBC privatization bid approved after plenty of ‘noise and aggravation’

Financial Post
Shareholders of storied Canadian retailer Hudson’s Bay Co. voted overwhelmingly to approve a privatization of the firm Thursday following a contentious months-long takeover battle.

The $2 billion take-private transaction led by HBC executive chairman Richard Baker was approved by more than 98 per cent of shareholders who voted, including 94.46 per cent of minority shareholders who were not part of the Baker-led privatization.. . . more

Bed Bath & Beyond to Cut 500 Jobs

The Street
Bed Bath & Beyond said Thursday it's cutting about 500 jobs, or 10% of its workforce, in an effort to reduce expenses by about $85 million annually as part of its restructuring plan.

Mark Tritton, Bed Bath & Beyond's president and CEO, said in a company statement, "We are announcing extensive changes today to right-size our organization as part of our efforts to reconstruct a modern, durable business model. We do not take this action lightly but, while difficult, these measured and purposeful steps are necessary. This will reset our cost structure, allowing us to re-invest where it matters most to our customers, to re-establish our authority in the Home space.". . . more

US malls ‘will be hit hard’ if coronavirus worsens, study finds

If the coronavirus spreads in the U.S., that could mean really bad news for U.S. mall owners, according to a survey taken this week.

The survey by Coresight Research found that 58% of people say they are likely to avoid public areas such as shopping centers and entertainment venues if the virus’ outbreak worsens in the United States.. . . more

Thursday, February 27, 2020

TJX stands ‘head and shoulders’ above most other off-pricers

Chain Store Age
After a dismal set of results from many clothing retailers over the holiday period, some may be wondering whether consumers were buying much apparel at all. TJX has answered that question with its strong results: Shoppers were out buying, but they were doing so in off-price rather than in mainstream retail.

Admittedly, TJX’s strong sales uplift of 9.7% comes off the back of a weaker result last year, but it is nonetheless impressive and demonstrates that the company remains a destination for apparel and homewares across many consumer segments. Indeed, our data show that over the holiday period, TJX was firmly in tune with the shopper mindset which was demanding value for money, interesting assortments, and quick inexpensive fashion fixes.. . . more

More Store Closures Ahead For Potbelly

Restaurant Business
Potbelly Sandwich Shop plans to close eight to 10 more underperforming units this year as it faces pressure from declining traffic and attention from activist investors, the fast-casual chain’s executives revealed during a call with analysts Tuesday.

For its quarter ended Dec. 29, the Chicago-based chain reported a slight dip in same-store sales at company-owned units of negative 0.1%. Traffic, however, dropped 6.4%, offset by a 6.7% increase in average check.. . . more

Stage Stores cuts staff, closes dozens of stores

Retail Dive
Dozens of locations under the Gordmans banner, which the retailer has staked its future on, are closing as the company tries to rein in its finances.

The department store chain, which is undergoing a rapid transformation to off-price via its Gordmans banner, sent an email Monday marking 60 existing Gordmans stores for closure as well as 10 department stores that were slated to become Gordmans stores, according to a person who viewed the email. Those are on top of 40 stores the company marked for closure last fall.. . . more

Outlet Centers Continue to Post Healthy Fundamentals, But There May Be Challenges Ahead

Bricks-and-mortar retail, in general, has been badly bruised over the past several years. The outlet center sector has weathered the storm better than some other retail types as it draws shoppers looking for bargains, but it too faces challenges.

Growing e-commerce competition and off-price players’ increasing strength are impacting the sector. . . . more

7-Eleven to expand new store concept nationwide

Chain Store Age
7-Eleven is moving forward with its “evolution" store format.

The c-store giant, which unveiled the concept last March in Dallas, has expanded it to Washington, D.C., with an additional location to open in San Diego in the coming months. 7-Eleven said it plans to continue to expand the concept across the country in 2020.. . . more

J.C. Penney reports surprise profit, same-store sales top estimates

J.C. Penney Co Inc on Thursday reported a surprise adjusted profit and a smaller drop in comparable sales than anticipated for the fourth quarter, buoyed by demand for women’s apparel, sending its shares up about 3% before the bell.

The century-old department store chain under Chief Executive Officer Jill Soltau has been shutting unprofitable stores, while testing a new store model that includes a yoga studio, a videogame lounge and lifestyle workshops to fight competition from Inc and discount retailers.. . . more

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Retail sales expected to climb between 3.5% and 4.1% in 2020, unless coronavirus derails growth, trade group says

Retail sales in 2020 are forecast to rise between 3.5% and 4.1%, topping $3.9 trillion, despite the headwinds of a lingering trade war, the coronavirus outbreak and an upcoming presidential election, the industry’s trade group said Tuesday.

“The nation’s record-long economic expansion is continuing, and consumers remain the drivers of that expansion,” National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.. . . more

Raising capital: What investors look for before writing a check

Retail Dive
Before most founders approach investment firms, they've likely already raised a bit of capital, whether that be through angel investors or friends and family.

And while investors usually have a company's financials, or even sometimes their QuickBooks, on hand, they're taken with a grain of salt. During the early days, startups sometimes don't even have a product launched to present, so profitability at this stage isn't likely.. . . more

TJX Cos. ends Q4 strong with increases across all brands

Chain Store Age
TJX Cos. reported fourth-quarter sales and earnings that beat expectations amid increased traffic to its stores.

Sales increased 10% to $12.2 billion, up from $11.1 billion the prior year. Analysts had expected sales of $11.8 billion. Same-store sales rose 6%, also better than expected.. . . more

Retail Leasing and Rents Are Rebounding

Globe St.
Retail leasing activity and retail rents are starting to rebound. The trend stems from a combination of new, more experience-focused retail concepts and online retailers transitioning into brick-and-mortar locations. As a result, retail leasing is picking up and retail investors are returning to the market.

Amazon is the prime example of online retailers opening physical stores, and it shows the benefits of having a physical presence.. . . more

An Old-Fashioned Brick-and-Mortar Earnings Beat for Lowe's

The Street
The time-tested tale of the mean old fox not being able to blow down the three little piggies' brick-and-mortar house might be a decent analogy for Lowe's most recent quarterly earnings.

The Home Depot rival attributed almost all of the improvement to two things: cost-cutting, including the closure of non-performing stores, and good old-fashioned brick-and-mortar sales – and less so on 'straw-and-mud' e-commerce. . . . more

Authentic Brands taps former H&M executive to helm Forever 21

Forever 21’s new co-owner Authentic Brands Group said on Tuesday it had appointed former H&M executive Daniel Kulle as the new chief executive officer of the bankrupt apparel retailer.

Kulle, a two-decade veteran at the Swedish apparel retailer, most recently worked as strategic adviser to former H&M Group Chief Executive Karl-Johan Persson.. . . more

West Elm signs lease at Dedham’s Legacy Place

Boston Business Journal
Furniture brand West Elm has signed an 11,000-square-foot lease in Dedham’s Legacy Place, according to the property developer behind the 10-year-old shopping and dining area.

The store is slated to open this summer, according to a spokeswoman for WS Development.. . . more

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Amazon is opening its first full-size, cashierless grocery store. Here’s a first look inside

Amazon is cracking further into the $800 billion U.S. grocery industry, keeping the likes of Walmart, Kroger, 7-Eleven and Instacart on their toes.

The online behemoth on Tuesday is opening its first, full-size, cashierless grocery store. Five years in the making, the Amazon Go Grocery is in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, in the Amazon corporate headquarters’ backyard. . . . more

Forever 21's new owners face a slowdown in fast fashion

Retail Dive
Forever 21 has a new lease on life thanks to the successful $81 million bid assembled by the brand conglomerate Authentic Brands Group and the two mall developers that bought it out of bankruptcy.

That's literally true, too — Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners are two of the fast-fashion retailer's major landlords; now they're also two of its major owners, and more stores will likely remain open as a result.

But that doesn't mean that things aren't going to change. . . . more

Modell's to close 19 stores, offer up minority stake

Retail Dive
Modell's on Monday announced it was closing more than 15% of its footprint and seeking outside investment to help save the company, according to a company press release.

Unless the company can "appropriately restructure the leases," it will close 19 stores, a company spokesperson said in a statement emailed to Retail Dive, noting that five locations originally slated for closure will remain open thanks to negotiations with landlords.. . . more

Cosi files for bankruptcy protection, has closed 30 units

Restaurant Business
Fast-casual chain Cosi filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday, its second such filing since 2016.

The Boston-based soup-and-sandwich brand closed 30 units in December, as part of a restructuring effort, and said it is boosting its catering program “to better align with current customer dining trends,” according to a statement.. . . more

Home Depot Tops Q4 Earnings Forecast, Repeats 2020 Sales Guidance

The Street
Home Depot Inc. posted stronger-than-expected fourth quarter earnings Tuesday, and reiterated its full-year sales forecast, as same-store sales topped forecasts for the holiday period.

Home Depot said same-store sales rose 5.2% from last year, well ahead of the consensus estimate of 4.7, and reiterated its full-year 2020 guidance that sees comparable sales rising between 3.5% and 4.%.  . . . more

Macy’s shares jump after earnings top estimates, helped by a last-minute holiday sales boost

Macy’s reported fourth-quarter earnings on Tuesday that outpaced expectations, helped by a boost from last-minute shoppers who lifted sales in the days leading up to Christmas.

“Taken as a whole, 2019 did not play out as we intended for Macy’s, Inc. However, we executed well during the Holiday 2019 season,” CEO and Chairman Jeff Gennette said in a statement.. . . more

Target breaks into the Top 10 list of US e-commerce retailers

Target’s investments in store remodels, same-day delivery and drive-up services are paying off. The retailer, which used to rank No. 11 in U.S. e-commerce sales, is now forecast to jump three spots to break into the top 10 list as the No. 8 retailer, according to a new report from analyst firm eMarketer. This puts Target ahead of declining businesses QVC and Qurate Retail Group (HSN’s owner), as well as No. 9 Costco and No. 10 Macy’s, the new forecast says.

The firm estimates Target’s e-commerce business will grow 24% in 2020 to reach $8.34 billion, allowing it to crack the top 10 list. . . . more

Monday, February 24, 2020

Guitar Center downgraded as gains fail to reduce debt load

Retail Dive
Moody's downgraded Guitar Center's credit rating deeper into junk territory last week, from Caa1 to Caa2.

The retailer of musical instruments is a "solid operator" and has managed modest growth in comp sales and EBITDA over the past three years, but "leverage remains high and cash flow is limited even after two distressed exchanges," Raya Sokolyanska, Moody's vice president and analyst, said in a press release.. . . more

Can Ghost Kitchens Replace Bankrupt Mall Tenants?

Ghost kitchens, food preparation facilities used for delivery purposes only, are beginning to set up shop in regional malls, but industry sources are split on their value as tenants.

“I think it would be a mistake to think that [ghost kitchens] are going to move the needle very much for a mall…” says Scott Holmes, national director of retail with brokerage firm Marcus & Millichap.. . . more

Which customers return the most purchases, and why?

Chain Store Age
A new survey reveals a small percentage of shoppers are responsible for a large portion of returns.

According to a new survey of 2019 holiday shoppers from omnichannel solutions provider goTRG, people who reported returning five or more items during the 2019 season made up just 16.3% of all holiday shoppers, but accounted for 40.69% of all items returned. . . . more

PacSun opening ‘landmark’ stores, complete with pop-ups, events

Chain Store Age
PacSun is opening two “landmark stores,” in Los Angeles and New York City respectively. Each location is designed to channel the energy, history and native talent of its locale, while working together to amplify PacSun's core values of a lifestyle brand, the company said.

The recently opened Los Angeles store has 5,000 sq. ft. of space and references the ongoing renaissance of the city’s downtown. The New York store, an 8,000-sq.-ft. location in an historic SoHo storefront, is slated to open on March 2.. . . more

Costco membership required? To make a food court purchase you may soon need to be a member

USA Today
The Costco Deals Instagram account, a fan account not affiliated with the wholesale club, posted a photo of a sign Thursday that says a membership card will soon be required to partake in food court offerings.

“Effective March 16, 2020, an active Costco membership card will be required to purchase items from our food court,” the sign reads. "You can join today. Please see our membership counter for details.". . . more

Friday, February 21, 2020

Gap partners with ThredUp for secondhand program

Gap Inc. has partnered with resale company ThredUp to encourage customers to exchange their used clothes for credits that can be used at the namesake chain, Banana Republic, Athleta, or Janie and Jack. Gap is the largest retailer to participate in the ThredUp program, which partners with retailers to help customers "clean out" their closets. Gap Inc. has a goal of diverting 30 million pounds of material from landfills each year. Banana Republic has also partnered with Postmates, adding delivery service to its buy-online-pickup-in-store program for customers in New York City and Southern California. . . . more

Which Regional Mall REITs Might Be the Next Takeover Targets?

In the wake of Simon Property Group Inc.’s pending $3.6 billion purchase of an 80 percent stake in Taubman Centers Inc.’s operating subsidiary, all eyes are on Macerich Co. as the next potential takeover target among retail REITs.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Macerich is “next in line” to be acquired, says Alex Pettee, president and director of research and ETFs at Rowayton, Conn.-based investment adviser Hoya Capital Real Estate LLC, thanks to its high-quality portfolio of retail properties. . . . more

Bob’s Discount Furniture in store expansion mode

Chain Store Age
Bob’s Discount Furniture is having a busy February.

The furniture chain is celebrating the grand opening of four new stores. New Bob’s stores have opened in Florence, Ky.; Dayton, Ohio; Colerain, Ohio and Rockford, Ill.; in addition to a store relocation in Norwalk, Conn.. . . more

Your biggest competitor may not be Amazon

Chain Store Age
Every retailer is developing strategies to compete with Amazon, but another rival lurks in the background.

In the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, conventional wisdom held that every retailer was in competition with Walmart. The discount giant sold every product, could beat anyone on price, and operated with ruthless efficiency. Walmart’s entry into e-commerce in 2000 was an important signifier that online sales were here to stay. . . . more

Retail apocalypse, Google addition: 7 legacy brands that are vanishing from our collective minds

Fast Company
Have you thought about Kmart lately? What about Wet Seal or American Apparel?

In fact, we know that you probably haven’t, because online searches for those and other legacy retail brands have been declining significantly over the past three years.

That’s according to new data from SEMrush, an analytics firm that measures Google searches. After news broke earlier this month that Macy’s plans to close 125 stores, SEMrush took a look at its internal data to see if there is a correlation between physical store closures and declining search interest. It turns out there is. . . . more

Sears snags a new $100 million lifeline as losses continue
Sears has reached a deal for a new financial lifeline totaling roughly $100 million from hedge fund Brigade Capital Management LP as it tries to stabilize after bankruptcy, people familiar with the matter said Thursday.

Sears' billionaire owner Eddie Lampert rescued the retailer from liquidation in a $5.2 billion takeover during bankruptcy proceedings a year ago. The company's unabated need for new funding underscores Lampert's challenges in turning it around.. . . more

Boston’s No Name Restaurant to be sold at auction

Boston Business Journal
The No Name Restaurant on the Boston Fish Pier will be sold at auction next week.

Auction house Paul E. Saperstein Co. Inc. will host the auction at 15 1/2 Fish Pier St. East in Boston’s Seaport District on Feb. 27 at 11:00 a.m.

The famed seafood restaurant, a 102-year-old family-owned establishment, abruptly closed at the end of December and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. . . . more

Thursday, February 20, 2020

7-Eleven owner in talks for Marathon's Speedway gas stations, sources say

Japan Times
Seven & I Holdings Co., which controls convenience store operator 7-Eleven, is in exclusive talks to acquire Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s Speedway gas stations for about $22 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

The 7-Eleven owner is lining up financing for the potential transaction, which could be announced as soon as next week, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the deliberations were private.. . . more

How Long Can Off-Price Retailers Continue to Outperform?

The U.S. off-price retail sector remains a bright spot in the turbulent retail environment plagued with bankruptcies and store closings.

Off-price chains continue to buck the trend that’s negatively impacting many flailing bricks-and-mortar retailers. They boast rising same-store sales and growing physical footprints, and many are even looking to grow online. While department stores are suffering from waning foot traffic and reduced store counts, off-price retail is thriving.. . . more

Forever 21 snapped up by mall owners, Authentic Brands

Chain Store Age
The sale of the bankrupt fast-fashion retailer to brand management and licensing firm Authentic Brands Group, Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners has been finalized. Under the terms of the deal, ABG and Simon will each own 37.5% and Brookfield will own 25% of Forever 21’s intellectual property and operating businesses.

The new owners will maintain Forever 21’s headquarters in Los Angeles, as well as its e-commerce business. According to a report by Bloomberg, the owners also plan to keep most of the chain’s 448 U.S. stores open under the leadership of a new CEO that will be announced when the company emerges from Chapter 11. . . . more

Carhartt opens third retail store in Boston area

Boston Business Journal
Workwear brand Carhartt Inc. is opening its third store in the Boston area inside a former gas station and auto repair shop.

The store, spanning 5,000 square feet, is located at 1170 Mass. Ave. in Dorchester, near the South Bay shopping plaza.

The company said the store incorporates elements of its past as a repair shop, with a garage door and tin accents.. . . more

New office, retail building pitched for 'last developable parcel' on Newbury Street

Boston Business Journal
L3 Capital LLC, a real estate investment firm with offices in Chicago and New York, has pitched a five-story office and retail building at the corner of Newbury and Dartmouth streets in Boston, a surface parking lot that’s billed as the last developable parcel of land on the famed Back Bay street.

Boston-based CBT Architects designed the building at 149-155 Newbury St., which was formerly home to the Hotel Aubry apartments. L3 this summer paid $40 million for the 14,504-square-foot lot.

The building — which would be called The Aubry — has been designed to house one to two levels of retail topped by office space. . . . more

A diminished Victoria's Secret is sold

Yahoo Finance
Victoria's Secret, beset by falling sales and uncomfortable questions about its billionaire founder who has run the company for five decades, is being sold.

The company's owner, L Brands, said that the private-equity firm Sycamore Brands will buy 55% of Victoria's Secret for about $525 million. The Columbus, Ohio company will keep the remaining 45% stake. . . . more

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

US ecommerce sales grow 14.9% in 2019

Digital Commerce
Consumers spent $601.75 billion online with U.S. merchants in 2019, up 14.9% from $523.64 billion the prior year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce quarterly ecommerce figures released Wednesday. That was a higher growth rate than 2018, when online sales reported by the Commerce Department rose 13.6% year over year.

Online’s share of total retail sales has steadily been on the rise—with ecommerce penetration hitting 16.0% in 2019, according to a Digital Commerce (formerly Internet Retailer) analysis of the Commerce Department’s year-end retail data. That was up from 14.4% in 2018 and 13.2% in 2017. The growth in penetration was the biggest annual percentage point jump at least since 2000, the first full year the department began tracking ecommerce spending.. . . more

Did Simon Property Group Just Rewrite Retail’s Script?

Globe St.
Earlier this month Simon Property Group rocked the retail community not only with its announcement that it had bid $3.6 billion for a stake in Taubman Centers, but also that the price it was paying was a 51% premium, according to Morningstar (per Bloomberg). This price spoke volumes about the value these assets have for Simon as well as the industry as a whole, according to analyst Kevin Brown, as it suggests that class A mall REITs in general are undervalued.

Essentially, this analysis rewrites retail’s script of the last several years in which the asset class has been mainly playing defense, and not always successfully.. . . more

Macy's downgraded as 'Polaris' turnaround begins

Retail Dive
S&P Global on Tuesday downgraded Macy's long-term credit rating to BB+ from BBB- and its short-term rating to B from A-3, according to an emailed press release.

These downgrades signal the pressure that Macy's is under to find new life amid the ruins of a department store sector that for decades now has seen its market share dwindle and its customers flee.. . . more

U.K. retailer Wren Kitchens to open U.S. stores

Chain Store Age
A company that describes itself as the U.K.’s fastest-growing bricks-and-mortar retailer is expanding to the U.S. market.

Founded in 2009, Wren Kitchens has 90 showrooms across the U.K., and will make its U.S. debut this summer, opening a location in Milford, Conn., on the site of a former Babies “R” Us site. Several more openings are planned throughout the year in the Northeast. . . . more

Retailers try clothing rental, but will it be a good fit?

Southeast Missourian
Renting clothes could be the future of fashion -- or it could just be a fad.

But traditional retailers can no longer afford to wait on the sidelines to find out. That's why a growing number are now offering customers the option to rent clothes for a monthly fee instead of buying them. Bloomingdale's, Banana Republic and Urban Outfitters are the latest to offer the services. Even footwear chain Designer Brands says it's considering launching a rental service for shoes.

Now a booming $1 billion business, the clothing rental sector is expected to reach $2.5 billion by 2023, according to research firm GlobalData. When combined with resale, it will account for 13% of the total $360 billion U.S. clothing market within the decade, up from 7.3% today. . . . more

Bed Bath & Beyond Boss Tries to Declutter Stores

The Wall Street Journal
Bed Bath & Beyond Inc.’s new chief executive, Mark Tritton, laid out his vision for remaking the troubled retailer. Decluttering stores is high on his list.

The former Target Corp. executive has spent the first 100 days on the job thinking about how many different types of can openers the retailer should stock. After the chain cut the number of options from more than a dozen to about three, sales rose. . . . more

Walmart’s grocery business is winning over more affluent shoppers

Walmart is reeling in higher-income customers — including some who are new to the retailer — with its online grocery business, company executives told investors Tuesday at an event in New York.

As its online grocery business grows, the company is seeing pricier items like choice cuts of meat and organic fruits and vegetables in customers’ virtual baskets, said John Furner, president and chief executive officer of Walmart U.S.. . . more

Pier 1, already closing stores in Mass., files for bankruptcy

Boston Business Journal
Pier 1 Imports, which was already in the process of closing hundreds of stores nationwide, including nine across Massachusetts, on Monday became the latest U.S. retailer to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Fort Worth, Texas-based Pier 1 said in a statement that it intends to put itself up for sale as part of the bankruptcy process and that it already has the approval of its lenders to do so. The move comes just weeks after Pier 1 said it would close half of its U.S. stores.

Nine Massachusetts locations will close, including the previously announced closure of the Holyoke location, according to Pier 1′s Facebook page.. . . more

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Macy’s Herald Square Skyscraper Project Faces Tough Road Ahead

Macy’s Inc. faces a difficult road as it dives into New York City real estate development.

The struggling retailer, trying to generate cash off prime real estate in midtown Manhattan, recently unveiled plans for a 1.5 million-square-foot building atop its iconic store in Manhattan’s Herald Square. But the proposed office tower requires zoning changes that have to be approved by the city, a potentially thorny political process that can delay, or even quash, the project.. . . more

At Home Group continues store expansion

Chain Store Age
At Home Group Inc. is keeping itself busy in February.

The home décor superstore is celebrating the opening of six stores this month, growing its national footprint to 218 locations across 39 states by the end of February. 

At Home sells more than 50,000 home décor items for every room, including furniture, rugs, wall art and housewares to tabletop, patio and holiday décor. Stores average just over 100,000 sq. ft. . . . more

Bed Bath & Beyond in deal to sell one of its businesses

Chain Store Age
Bed Bath & Beyond has begun to shed non-core assets as part of its turnaround efforts.

The struggling home good has entered into definitive agreement to sell its business to for $252 million. Following the closing of the transaction, will continue to provide product and personalization services to Bed Bath & Beyond and buybuy Baby.. . . more

Walmart Q4 comes up short — and so does outlook

Chain Store Age
Walmart Inc. reported disappointing holiday results as a shorter shopping season and weak demand for toys, video games and apparel cut into its results.

The retail giant on Tuesday reported fourth-quarter sales and earnings that missed Street expectations along with a 2021 earnings outlook that was also less than expected. In a statement, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said that U.S. store sales leading up to Christmas were a “little softer” than expected. . . . more

Retail sales edge up in January; clothing sales take a hit

Chain Store Age
Retail sales in January inched up 0.2% seasonally adjusted over December and were up 2.7% unadjusted year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation. (The NRF numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.)

Looking at key retail sectors, sales at clothing and clothing accessory stores fell 3.1% in January (and 0.7% year-over-year), the biggest decline since March 2009. Electronics and appliance store sales were down 0.5% in January and 2.9% year-over-year. . . . more

Market by Macy’s Concept Could Benefit Retail REITs That Specialize in Lifestyle Centers

The drumbeat of store closures continues, with well over 1,000 already on the books this year. No doubt, these shutdowns will harm landlords, including retail REITs.

But although it wouldn’t make up for the loss of hundreds of larger stores, Macy Inc.’s new smaller-store concept stands to benefit retail REITs and other landlords that own robust portfolios of lifestyle centers—centers that one retail expert says “are picking up where traditional malls left off.”. . . more

Ailing Pier 1 Imports declares bankruptcy

CBS News
Pier 1 Imports declared bankruptcy on Monday in a move aimed at facilitating a sale of the struggling home furnishings company.

The publicly listed retailer is in talks with multiple potential buyers, the company said in a statement that did not disclose possible buyers. It also reiterated a previously announced plan to cut about 40% of headquarters staff and close as many as 450 stores, or about half of the chain's locations. . . . more

Friday, February 14, 2020

Consumer spending rose modestly in January as clothing store sales fell by the most since 2009

U.S. consumer spending appears to have slowed further in January, with sales at clothing stores declining by the most since 2009, which could raise concerns about the economy’s ability to continue expanding at a moderate pace.

The Commerce Department said on Friday retail sales excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services were unchanged last month. Data for December was revised down to show the so-called core retail sales rising 0.2% instead of jumping 0.5% as previously reported. . . . more

Wayfair lays off 550 employees

Retail Dive
Wayfair confirmed to Retail Dive it has laid off about 550 employees. The company said it employs more than 17,000 workers globally.

Of the 550 employees impacted, 350 are based in Boston, where the e-commerce retailer is headquartered, the company confirmed. . . . more

Real Estate Fund Redemptions Surge on Alarm Over Malls

Real-estate funds in the U.S. and Europe are struggling to meet a surge in investor requests to get their cash back, a sign of mounting concerns about the viability of retail properties in the e-commerce era.

The latest to come under duress: UBS Group AG’s flagship real estate fund, which has raised about $25 billion and owns malls across the U.S. Investors are waiting to withdraw about $7 billion from the bank’s Trumbull Property Fund after it underperformed for an extended period, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the details are private. . . . more

A First Peek Inside Amazon’s New Grocery Store Concept in Los Angeles

The $800 billion grocery industry is keeping a sharp eye on a strip mall in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. There, sandwiched between a nail salon and a bank branch, Inc. is working on the first in a new chain of grocery stores set to open this year.

The company has kept construction inside the store firmly under wraps, and, until now, no one has peeked in on Amazon’s latest plan to upend how food is sold. Based on never-before-seen photos of the facility at 6245 Topanga Canyon Blvd., as well as planning documents filed with the city, the store looks remarkably conventional—with a few Amazon-style flourishes. . . . more

Target ad stops little boy and his wheelchair in their tracks

Good Morning America
It was just another Target run, until something that caught little Oliver Garza-Pena's eye made him stop his wheelchair in its tracks.

His mother, Demi Garza Pena, told "Good Morning America" she "could not break" her son's gaze from an advertisement in the boy's clothing section. Oliver will be two next month.. . . more

Home Depot and Lowe's are gearing up to hire 133,000 employees for the springtime rush

Business Insider
Home Depot and Lowe's are set to hand out thousands of orange aprons and red vests to new seasonal, part-time, and full-time workers this spring. Both home improvement giants are in the process of hiring thousands of employees as the sector dives into its busiest season.

Home Depot said in a statement on Tuesday that it planned to take on 80,000 new employees for spring. Lowe's said at the beginning of January that it was looking to to hire 53,000 workers to help out with the rush. . . . more

Never Mind the Internet. Here’s What’s Killing Malls.

The New York Times
Despite a strong consumer economy, physical retailers closed more than 9,000 stores in 2019 — more than the total in 2018, which surpassed the record of 2017. Already this year, retailers have announced more than 1,200 more intended closings, including 125 Macy’s stores.

Some people call what has happened to the shopping landscape “the retail apocalypse.” It is easy to chalk it up to the rise of e-commerce, which has thrived while physical stores struggle. And there is no denying that Amazon and other online retailers have changed consumer behavior radically or that big retailers like Walmart and Target have tried to beef up their own online presence.

But this can be overstated.. . . more

Thursday, February 13, 2020

E-commerce helps Ahold Delhaize to strong fiscal-year finish

Supermarket News
Dutch retail giant Ahold Delhaize cited e-commerce as a catalyst, especially in the United States, in reporting solid sales gains for the 2019 fourth-quarter and fiscal year.

Also on Wednesday, Chairman and CEO Frans Muller told analysts that the global food retailer is seeing results from store upgrades and omnichannel investment in the U.S., including remodels at Stop & Shop and Food Lion and the ongoing rollout of online grocery pickup sites.. . . more

Breaking Down Simon’s Bet on Taubman

Last week rumors emerged that retail real estate giant Simon Property Group was contemplating acquiring Taubman Centers. On Monday, those rumors came to fruition when the Indianapolis-based REIT announced it had reached an agreement to acquire the Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based company in a deal valued roughly $3.6 billion.

It marked an unexpected climax for two companies that have deep roots in the American mall industry. . . . more

Rodd & Gunn in store expansion mode

Chain Store Age
Rodd & Gunn has its sights set on expanding in the U.S.

The New Zealand-based menswear brand is on target to have 10 U.S. storefronts by year's end. Upcoming locations include the newly expanded Westfield Valley Fair in Santa Clara, Calif., in March, followed by Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek, Calif., in July,

The additional Northern California locations will bring Rodd & Gunn’s total U.S. roster to 10 stores, following openings in key locations across the nation, including Newport Beach, Calif.; Los Angeles; San Diego; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Greenwich, Conn.; Dallas and Bellevue, Wash.. . . more

Stage Stores reportedly eyeing bankruptcy

Chain Store Age
Stage Stores’ transformation into an off-price retailer has hit some snags.

The retailer is preparing for a financial restructuring that could include a bankruptcy filing, reported The Wall Street Journal. According to the report, Stage Stores has been late in paying its vendors amid a cash crunch.. . . more

Kohl’s in corporate restructuring

Chain Store Age
Kohl’s Corp. is eliminating around 250 positions as part of a restructuring that Kohl’s said “will empower decision-making, reduce management layers, streamline communications and drive greater efficiency in many areas of our business.”

"The departures include removing a layer of regional store leadership roles and positions, restructuring teams in our merchant organization, and changes to other positions in our corporate offices," statement Jen Johnson, Kohl's senior VP of communications. . . . more

Curry Up Now Continues Rapid Expansion
Curry Up Now, the nation’s largest and fastest growing Indian fast casual concept that’s popularly known for its innovative approach to Indian cuisine, is celebrating the Grand Opening of its highly-anticipated Sacramento location at on Friday, February 21.

With the new outpost, Curry Up Now operates 11 restaurants across the country, with more than 40 in varying stages of development in nearly every major region in the United States.Curry Up Now aims to have at least 20 units in operation by the end of 2020, with upcoming openings slated for Utah, New Jersey, Atlanta, and San Diego. . . . more

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Modell's works with vendors, landlords to avoid bankruptcy

Retail Dive
Modell's Sporting Goods has again turned to strategic advisory firm Berkeley Research Group and law firm Cole Schotz for restructuring advice after a rough several months, CEO Mitchell Modell told Retail Dive, confirming a Tuesday Debtwire report. However, he also said that a bankruptcy filing is off the table for now.

The Northeast sporting goods retailer closed nine stores just this year and is considering other closures as leases expire, he also said.. . . more

Bed Bath & Beyond CEO says turnaround will ‘take time’

The Street
Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. shares plunged to a four-month low Wednesday after it said holiday sales slumped and profit margins narrowed as new CEO Mark Tritton attempts to revive the struggling home furnishings retailer.

Bed Bath & Beyond said comparable sales for the first two months of its fiscal fourth quarter, which ends in February, fell 5.4% from last year, which Tritton put down to a lack of inventory in key categories. Gross margins narrowed by around 3%, the company added in an ad-hoc update after the close of trading Tuesday, thanks in part to promotional sales designed to win back market share from rivals. . . . more

CVS Health beats on fourth-quarter earnings and revenue

CVS Health on Wednesday reported fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that beat Wall Street’s expectations, boosted by higher sales in its pharmacy benefit management business.

Same-store sales rose 3.2% during the quarter, with sales in its pharmacy unit up 4.1%, CVS reported. The company’s pharmacy unit reported revenue of $37 billion during the three months ended Dec. 31. That compares with $34 billion last year. It’s retail segment, which includes general merchandise and prescription refills, reported revenue of $22.5 billion, slightly above what it made last year.. . . more

New Galleria at Crystal Run: Trampolines, hotel, upscale restaurants and pumping iron

Poughkeepsie Journal
Pyramid Management Group’s goal these days. The Syracuse company wants to transform the Galleria into more than a mall, so it can survive and thrive in a time when hundreds of malls and tens of thousands of stores have closed since the Great Recession 12 years ago.

Pyramid wants to turn the Galleria into no less than a massive main street — the municipal center the Town of Wallkill has always lacked, with restaurants, entertainment, a hotel and even a residential real estate development.. . . more

Retail landlords go shopping for bankrupt chains

Boston Business Journal
Property executives are unlikely stewards of youthful clothing brands. But Forever 21 is to be subsumed by two of its largest landlords after retail specialists balked at the prospect of reviving the fortunes of the distressed fast-fashion company.

A Delaware bankruptcy judge this week gave the go-ahead to a rescue bid from Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners, a highly unconventional transaction that shows how turmoil in retail is upending long-standing business practices.. . . more

Under Armour warns of big sales hit from coronavirus; may not open NYC flagship

Chain Store Age
Under Armour swung to a loss in its fourth quarter and warned that it expects first-quarter sales declines of $50 million to $60 million, mostly due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in China.

Amid signs that its turnaround plan has hit challenges, the athletic apparel and gear company said it is considering undertaking a restructuring plan to improve profitability. Among other things, the plan could entail not opening Under Armour’s long-anticipated flagship on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.. . . more

Simon & Taubman: New-age pressures force marriage of old rivals

Chain Store Age
Simon’s 2003 attempt to take over Taubman Centers, a failed bid that set the big mall owners at odds ever since, has culminated in a merger forced by conditions of the times.

“Last year we predicted that we were going to be seeing consolidation among REITs in the mall space. They’ve lost a lot of leverage with retailers. Retailers gained the upper hand, closing stores and driving rents down. So mall owners are forced to consolidate to add more growth,” said Greg Maloney, president and CEO of JLL Retail.. . . more

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Burlington continues to attract new restaurants

Wicked Local
Fogo de Chao Currascaria, a Brazilian steakhouse chain, will be coming to the Burlington Mall next fall, it was announced this week, joining the ever-growing slate of restaurants flocking to Burlington.

Also new to Middlesex Turnpike, the Yard House chain held a ribbon cutting for its new establishment across from the mall last week.

The Burlington Mall recently announced Shake Shack will also join the lower level Primark wing and Karma restaurant next to Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana this spring. Lands’ End will also be relocating to the lower level Primark wing next to a new Milton’s men’s store, which will open a 12,200 square foot store next fall. . . more

Malls Need A Survival Strategy Now That Macy’s Announced It Is Moving Out

The fate of many of the nation’s malls hangs in the balance after Macy’s just announced it will close 125 of its stores over the next three years, most of them Macy’s. The move will leave Macy’s with only about 400 stores remaining after shrinking from a high of 773 stores in 2014.

To add insult to injury, Sephora just announced it would open 100 new stores, but most of those will be outside traditional malls where they have been an important in-line tenant.. . . more

The retail apocalypse has led to stores shrinking, adding more features

Business Insider
As department stores and big-box brands fall out of vogue, smaller concept stores are paving the way for the future of retail.

In recent months, department stores like JCPenney and Macy's have abandoned the mall by debuting standalone, small-format stores designed to experiment with new retail strategies and ramp up foot traffic. Likewise, Sephora announced in early February it plans to open 100 smaller-format stores in cities like Nashville and San Jose. Those stores will be positioned closer to neighborhoods rather than embedded in malls, as part of a push toward localizing retail. . . . more

No other bidders step up as Forever 21 nears sale

Retail Dive
Forever 21 said it would suspend an auction for its business scheduled for Monday, as it hasn't received any qualified bids beyond its stalking horse. The retailer previously set a bid deadline of Feb. 7.

Without an auction, the retailer said it planned to go forward with a hearing scheduled for Feb. 11 to approve its stalking horse bid, an $81 million offer assembled by Authentic Brands group and major Forever 21 landlords Simon Property and Brookfield.. . . more

Retail Investors Fuel a Surge in Non-Traded REIT Fundraising

After weathering a rocky patch that sent many investors to the sidelines, non-traded REITs appear to be back on track with steady gains in capital flowing into the sector.

Non-traded REITs raised $11.8 billion in 2019, which is the highest fundraising total since 2014, according to industry data from Robert A. Stanger & Co. Inc. The firm is predicting another strong year of fundraising ahead with a further 27 percent jump to $15 billion for 2020.. . . more

Why Shopping Centers Need Branding

Globe St
Branding a shopping center can be an important element of success. As the retail market continues to focus on experience, creating a brand and brand characteristics can create value for stakeholders and attract new consumers. It is a way to stand out in an increasingly competitive retail market.

“A brand is much more than just a logo. The branding process is intentional and can be broken down into a few phases; strategy and positioning, placemaking, design, and execution,” Matt Dean, creative director at Beta, tells “Each one of these components is a necessary element in creating a project that has a thoughtful and consistent brand.”. . . more

Macy’s plan to build billion-dollar private label brands faces tough odds

Macy's wants to take more of its fate into its own hands.

One of the key components of the comeback plan the struggling department store company unveiled to Wall Street last week is its ambition to turn four of its long established in-house fashion brands—I.N.C. International Concepts, Alfani, Style & Co, and Charter Club—into billion-dollar names.. . . more

IKEA new CEO targets 'even more affordable' furniture as habits shift

IKEA named insider Jon Abrahamsson Ring to succeed Torbjorn Loof as chief executive of the world’s biggest furniture brand on Tuesday as it adapts to seismic shifts in shopping.

“I think we could broaden the product range a bit in our lower price range,” Abrahamsson Ring said, adding that new materials, production techniques and distribution methods would help make IKEA “even more affordable”.. . . more

Monday, February 10, 2020

Costco strong in January

Chain Store Age
Costco Wholesale Corp. came strong out of the gate in the first month of the year.

The membership warehouse club retailer reported net sales of $11.57 billion for the four weeks ended February 2, 2020, up 8% from $10.71 billion in the year-ago period. Total same-store sales (excluding the impact of gasoline and foreign exchange) rose 5.3%, with a 5.6% increase in the U.S. E-commerce comparable sales surged 17.2%. . . . more

Dont be fooled by declining C-store numbers

Retail Leader
The number of convenience stores contracted last year, but in doing so became a bigger competitive challenge to other retail channels, as the total figure doesn’t tell the whole story.

The number of convenience stores declined slightly, according to the 2020 NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count, with the number of single store operators accounting for the dip. There are now 152,720 convenience stores operating in the U.S. and 121,988 of them sell fuel. . . . more

Macy's new North Star

Retail Dive
Macy's has set a new course toward survival in a turnaround strategy dubbed "Polaris" that plays on its longstanding star logo. The new course is a little like the old course, a 2017 turnaround strategy named "North Star," but it's decidedly Earthbound.​ Ancient Phoenician and Greek travelers were among the first to use the stars in the sky to navigate; Macy's appears to be using the stars on Wall Street.

In a press release and investors day presentation this week, the department store outlined a complicated new brick-and-mortar scheme, massive supply chain overhaul, e-commerce and loyalty upgrades, and merchandising strategy, all the while emphasizing cost restructuring designed to return the company to profitable growth.. . . more

How chain stores are rightsizing New York City retail

Retail Dive
An analysis of stores in New York City last year revealed that the number of national chain stores operating in the retail destination had dropped a notable amount. That the entire retail industry is in flux is not a secret, but the drop in one of the countries top retail destinations sparks a larger question: Is the decline of national retail brands in New York City a regional problem, or endemic of a larger retail shift?

In 2019, the number of national chain stores in New York City dropped by 304 locations, representing a 3.7% decrease over the previous year, and the biggest drop in more than 10 years, according to a report published in December by the Center for an Urban Future, a think tank that focuses on economic issues that affect the city. . . . more

Sears and Kmart store closings continue. Is your location closing in early 2020?

USA Today
More Sears and Kmart stores are set to close in the next couple of months.

The going-out-of-business liquidation sales at 51 Sears and 45 Kmart stores – first announced in November by parent company Transformco – are expected to wrap up by mid-February, company spokesman Larry Costello confirmed Jan. 31. . . . more

Which Are the Most Desired Quick Service Restaurants in the Net Lease Sector?

New construction properties occupied by Burger King, Popeyes, Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks saw the highest transaction volumes in the first half of 2019, The Boulder Group reported.

QSRs reported the highest number of posted transactions in the net lease sector in the third quarter of 2019 at 150 deals, up from 85 the previous quarter, according to Calkain Cos.’ Third Quarter 2019 Cap Rate Report. While the number of properties sold nearly doubled quarter to quarter, Calkain reported that the average cap rate moved by just 40 basis points to 5.57 percent in the QSR sector.. . . more

Victoria’s Secret reportedly close to being sold to Sycamore Partners

Chain Store Age
Victoria’s Secret may be going private.

L Brands, parent company of Victoria’s Secret and Bed, Bath & Body Works, is close to a deal to selling the troubled lingerie brand to private equity firm Sycamore Partners, reported CNBC. The deal could be announced this week, the report said. . . . more

Simon to buy Taubman Centers in all-cash mega-deal

Chain Store Age
The nation’s largest mall operator is getting bigger.

Simon Property Group Inc. has entered into an agreement to acquire Taubman Centers in a deal valued at approximately $3.6 billion. Simon will acquire all of Taubman’s common stock for $52.50 a share in cash (a 51% premium to Taubman closing price on Friday, Feb.7). The Taubman family, which is selling approximately one-third of its ownership interest, will retain a 20% stake in Taubman Realty Group.. . . more

Friday, February 7, 2020

The toy category still hasn't recovered from the death of Toys R Us

Retail Dive
Going into the holiday season, Target grabbed headlines as it tried to solidify its position as one of the heirs to Toys R Us' lost empire.

The retailer forged a partnership first with Disney to open 25 in-store shops featuring toys from the iconic entertainment company that included one hundred products that could otherwise be found only inside Disney's own stores. . . . more

Macy's revamps private label to reach millennials

Retail Dive
At its Investors Day on Wednesday, Macy's revealed that key to its new "Polaris" turnaround strategy is a refurbishment of its private label brands, especially in women's apparel.

The retailer sees opportunity in appealing to millennial customers, who have largely shunned its stores and its private labels in favor of rivals. Ongman noted that millennials account for half the ready-to-wear market outside of Macy's, where "under 40" apparel shoppers account for just 35%. . . . more

Target journeys into Away's market with new private label luggage

Retail Dive
Target plans to launch a new private label luggage brand next week, according to a corporate blog post.

Dubbed "Open Story," the line includes nearly 40 luggage products and accessories. Prices range from around $20 to $180, which the retailer says is 25% to 30% lower than "comparable" brands.
Products include hard shell luggage, backpacks, garment bags and packing cubes. The brand launches in stores on Sunday and online Feb. 13.. . . more

Retail Continues to Be a Drag on a Generally Strong Labor Market

Footwear News
Despite an arguably strong overall labor market, troubles in the retail sector are proving persistent.

Retail trade noted a loss of 8,300 jobs — a month after the surge in December hiring during the holiday season. Clothing and clothing accessories stores logged a 4,600 decrease in jobs, partially offsetting the 5,500 increase in sporting goods stores. Further, general merchandise stores lost 14,400 jobs: Department stores posted a 16,900 loss in jobs, while warehouse clubs and supercenters improved 2,500. (Non-store or online retailers and miscellaneous store retailers saw little change.). . . more

Economy adds 225,000 payrolls, unemployment rate ticks up to 3.6%

Yahoo Finance
The U.S. economy added a better than expected 225,000 jobs in January, with warmer weather during the month helping boost hiring even in a persistently tight labor market.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.6%, and average hourly earnings growth accelerated over last year.. . . more

Casper, the mattress startup, goes through with lackluster IPO

Boston Business Journal
Casper Sleep, a startup that sells mattresses online, became on Thursday the latest money-losing outfit to get a cold shoulder from Wall Street investors.

The company’s stock began trading on the New York Stock Exchange at $14.50 a share, slipped below $14 in the afternoon and closed at $13.50. The lackluster first day of trading did not come close to fulfilling what Casper’s venture-capital investors thought it was worth a few months ago.. . . more

Macy's Closing More Stores, 4 N.H. Locations Threatened
Macy's said Tuesday it plans to close 125 stores over the next three years, representing a fifth of the retail giant's locations, according to a report. The news comes on the heels of a similar announcement made in January when the company said it would close at least 28 stores.

While it was unknown which locations will be shuttered in this latest round of closings, the news could impact any and all of the four Macy's stores in New Hampshire.. . . more

Thursday, February 6, 2020

WS Development Acquires Rhode Island Shopping Center for Reported Price of $181M

Globe St
Chestnut Hill, MA-based real estate development firm WS Development has added the Garden City Center to its Northeast portfolio.

The firm’s new asset totals more than 530,000 square feet and includes such national tenants as Whole Foods, lululemon, L.L. Bean, Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, Sephora and Williams Sonoma. . . . more

Macy’s Turnaround Plan Includes New Store Concept

Globe St
On Wednesday of this week Macy’s announced it will close 125 stores over the next three years. On Thursday it is set to open what the retailer hopes will be the antidote to future closings. It is a new store concept called Market by Macy’s in Southlake, Texas.

Market by Macy’s will be about 15,000 square feet, or one-tenth the size of a typical Macy’s. It will feature clothing, home decor, an apothecary and an in-store cafe. These stores will be located off-mall in lifestyle centers. Macy’s Chief Executive Jeff Gennette told analysts that he plans to have four or five of the new stores open by the end of this year.. . . more

Chipotle crushes sales estimates during fourth quarter

Yahoo Finance
Chipotle crushed estimates on the top and bottom lines.

During the fourth-quarter, Chipotle opened 80 new restaurants, 46 of which included drive-thrus, also known as Clipotlanes. The company opened 66 new stores with Chipotlanes during 2019.

For the full year, revenue increased 14.8% from 2018 and totaled $5.6 billion with same-store sales growing 11.1%, boosted by 7% transaction growth and a 4.1% increase in the average check, according to the company. Meanwhile, 2019 restaurant level operating margin was 20.5% for 2019, an improvement from 18.7% in 2018.. . . more

7-Eleven tests cashierless store concept

Chain Store Age
7-Eleven is moving forward with efforts to make in-store shopping as frictionless as possible.

The convenience giant is piloting a 700-sq.-ft. cashierless store with employees at its Irving, Texas, headquarters. To test the store, employees download an app, sign up, check in at the store, enter the store, shop and exit. A detailed receipt appears in the app automatically after the customer exits.. . . more

Tiffany stockholders approve LVMH acquisition

Retail Dive
Tiffany & Co. will join the luxury portfolio of Parisian conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the companies announced on Monday.​ LVMH "will acquire Tiffany for $135 per share in cash, in a transaction with an equity value of approximately €14.7 billion or $16.2 billion," according to a press release from the companies.

The deal is expected to close in the middle of 2020 and is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval from Tiffany's shareholders and regulators, according to the release.. . . more

eBay targeted for potential $30 billion purchase

Chain Store Age
eBay reportedly has a suitor willing to spend more than $30 billion in an acquisition deal.

Following up on an initial report in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes reports that Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the owner of the New York Stock Exchange, has recently approached eBay about purchasing the e-tail giant. Since eBay’s current market cap is $28 billion, an acquisition could wind up costing ICE more than $30 billion with premiums.. . . more

L.L.Bean to lay off 200 employees, close a call center in Maine

Boston Business Journal
The iconic footwear maker L.L. Bean announced this week it will lay off 200 of its employees and close a call center in Lewiston. The layoffs, according to a statement from the footwear company, is due to a reorganizing process within the company.

The company will also close its call center at the Peck Building in Lewiston in 2021. L.L. Bean bought the former department store building 33 years ago.. . . more

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Burlington Stores rolling out more new locations

Home Textiles Today
After opening 51 new units across 2019, Burlington Stores is underway with 31 new locations opening at the onset of its new fiscal year.

The off-price chain’s new stores are in 20 states. Of the total, 25 are set to grand-open in March, followed by six more in April.. . . more

Simon Property Holds Deal Talks with Taubman

Simon Property Group Inc. has held merger talks with rival U.S. shopping-mall operator Taubman Centers Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.

The real estate investment trusts have been holding on-and-off-again discussions since late last year, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter isn’t public. Talks between the companies stalled in recent days amid market volatility and it’s unclear if and when they will resume, one of the people said.. . . more

Best Buy board says it stands by CEO following investigation

Best Buy CEO Corie Barry will keep her job following an independent investigation into whether she had an inappropriate relationship with a former colleague.

After reviewing the findings, the Richfield-based company’s board said Tuesday that it stands by its leader.. . . more

Casper Cuts Expected IPO Price

The Wall Street Journal
Mattress seller Casper Sleep Inc., the first well-known startup this year to file for an initial public offering, slashed the expected pricing of its IPO, putting demand for shares of highly-valued startups that still don’t turn a profit into deeper question.

Casper on Wednesday cut its expected IPO price to a range of $12 to $13 a share, down from a prior estimate of $17 to $19 each.. . . more

Forever 21 sale plan approved despite supplier, landlord objections

Retail Dive
Forever 21 won approval from a federal bankruptcy judge for its plan to auction itself later this month. The court also approved the $81 million “dark horse” bid from Authentic Brands Group, Simon Property and Brookfield, which serves to set a baseline for a bankruptcy auction and would preserve Forever 21 as an operating retailer.

The auction, if necessary, is set for the morning of Feb. 10, with a hearing the next day to consider the sale. . . . more

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Taunton Galleria tenants evicted, mall’s main entrance locked

Taunton Daily Gazette
Legal notices informed Silver City Galleria tenants that their license-at-will agreements — which had been in effect since last spring when the mall property was purchased for $7.5 million at foreclosure auction — are being terminated.

Those tenants have until the end of this month to vacate the premises.

In a story that ran in the Taunton Daily Gazette just over a week ago, property owner William Thibeault said that at-will tenants with month-to-month agreements were leaving the mall of their own accord. . . . more

Macy’s to close 125 stores, cut 2,000 corporate jobs, in hunt for growth

Macy’s will shut 125 stores over the next three years and slash about 2,000 corporate jobs, as it shutters its tech offices in San Francisco and its Cincinnati headquarters, the company announced Tuesday afternoon.

The department store chain said it plans to exit weaker shopping malls, and instead will shift its focus toward opening smaller-format stores in strip centers.. . . more

GameStop downgraded by Moody's as retailer faces 'sustained competitive threats'

Retail Dive
Moody's downgraded GameStop's corporate rating to B2 from Ba2 due to “weaker than anticipated sales and operating performance, driven largely by declines in new hardware and software sales," weeks after the gaming retailer reported crushing sales declines during the holiday period. Analysts with Moody's expect sales to drag through 2020 as customers hold off on new game purchases until the next generation of consoles are released.

"Sustained competitive threats from downloadable, streaming, and subscription gaming services, as well as the company's ongoing transformation to improve profitability and evolve its vendor and partner relationships, elevate the company's business and operational risk during a period of industry weakness," Moody's Vice President Adam McLaren said in a statement. Moody's has a stable outlook for GameStop.. . . more

First Look: Staples launching new retail concept in Boston

Chain Store Age
Staples is thinking outside the office with a reimagined store format that spotlights coworking, podcasting and community event spaces.

The new concept, called Staples Connect, makes its official debut on Feb. 5, in six redesigned stores in the Boston area (Boston, Cambridge, Needham, Brighton, Danvers, and Somerville). More than a place to make a transaction, the format offers customer-focused solutions and experiences, with hands-on learning opportunities for professionals, teachers, and students. . . . more

Dollar General has big hiring plans for 2020

Chain Store Age
Dollar General is looking to hire thousands of new employees.

The discounter said it plans to create more than 8,000 new career opportunities in fiscal year 2020 through anticipated store and distribution center growth. In the past five years, Dollar General’s workforce has grown from 105,000 employees (February 2015) to more than 143,000 current employees.. . . more

Another Whole Foods competitor just bit the dust

CNN Business
Organic grocery chain Earth Fare is going out of business, making it the latest chain to unravel from pressure squeezing small supermarkets.

Earth Fare, which has around 50 stores, mainly in the South, said Monday that it would begin to liquidate merchandise at all of its stores. It will attempt to find a buyer for its locations and other company assets.. . . more

Single Tenant Big Box Retail Cap Rates Decline

Globe St
Cap rates for single tenant big box retail properties declined by 4 basis points in the fourth quarter to 7 percent, according to The Boulder Group in its Q4 2019 Net Lease Big Box Report.

While the big box sector benefits from larger trends in net lease, it is priced at a discount within the sector and has been since 2015. Net lease big box properties were priced at a 93-basis point discount to the overall market in the fourth quarter, according to The Boulder Group. Last year the differential was 79 basis points.. . . more

Is Simon and Brookfield’s Forever 21 Buy a Smart Play or a Hail Mary Pass?

After months of speculation, mall owners Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners bit the bullet and made a bid for bankrupt fast-fashion retailer Forever 21. Simon and Brookfield, in partnership with Authentic Brands, are reportedly looking at a bargain deal at $81 million for essentially all of the company’s assets, but the decision to buy the chain might be an indication of how much pressure mall landlords are facing to keep their centers occupied.

Last year U.S. store closings reached an all-time record with approximately 9,300 shuttered locations.. . . more

Sephora to open 100 stores in 2020, in bid to grow outside of the mall

Beauty retailer Sephora has big growth plans, at a time when many businesses are shutting their doors for good.

The company, owned by Louis Vuitton parent company LVMH, will open 100 stores in 2020. This marks its largest real estate expansion to date, more than doubling its store growth in 2019. And the focus, with this growth, will be on expanding outside of shopping malls. . . . more

Monday, February 3, 2020

Dave & Buster's to open at The Mall of New Hampshire on March 30

Union Leader
New Hampshire’s first Dave & Buster’s arcade and sports bar will open in part of the former Sears at the Mall of New Hampshire by the end of March, bringing more than 200 jobs.

Dave & Buster’s announced Wednesday it will open its 137th location in the 34,400-square-foot space on March 30. Dick’s Sporting Goods opened in the other half of Sears in October.

For the past several years, Dave & Buster’s, based in Dallas, has targeted shuttered Sears locations, including the Natick Mall in Massachusetts. ...more

Macy’s to unveil new freestanding store concept

Chain Store Age
Macy’s Inc. is getting ready for a big reveal.

The department store giant is planning to open a new freestanding store format that will include a strong beauty element, reported WWD. The store, which will include a café, will debut in Southlake, Texas.

The concept will take an apothecary-based approach to beauty, and feature both established and new, emerging brands, according to the report. It is also believed the store will have a wellness component. . . . more

Amazon to double down on expansion of Amazon 4-star stores

Chain Store Age
Amazon continues to expand its brick-and-mortar presence.

The online giant will open 10 Amazon 4-star stores in 2020, including an outpost at the new American Dream mega-center in East Rutherford, N.J., according to a listing on its website. Amazon debuted the 4-Star concept in the fall of 2018. To date, it has opened nine locations. . . . more

J.C. Penney expands marketing team with four new VPs

Chain Store Age
J.C. Penney Company continues to remake its leadership team under the leadership of CEO Jill Soltau, naming six new VPs.

The struggling retailer named Wendy Santana as VP of business development, responsible for identifying and overseeing partnerships and strategic business initiatives. She joins Penney after 20 years at Li & Fung – LF Americas/Oxford Collections, where she most recently served as executive VP. . . . more

Stein Mart Inc. announces buyout agreement with private equity firm

Jacksonville Daily Record
With its stock price floundering as the company struggles to increase sales, Stein Mart Inc. agreed Jan. 31 to a buyout by a private equity firm.

The Jacksonville-based fashion retailer said Kingswood Capital Management L.P. agreed to buy all shares not controlled by Chairman Jay Stein.

Stein controlled 32% of the shares of the company, according to its most recent proxy statement. Under the agreement, an entity controlled by Stein will continue to own about one-third of the company.. . . more

Forever 21 Reaches Deal With Mall REITs

Globe St
Forever 21 has reached a deal to be sold to a consortium made up of Simon Property Group, Brookfield Properties and Authentic Brands Group for $81 million.

The retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy four months ago with plans to close up to 178 stores in the US and as many as 350 outlets globally.

The sale would include all of Forever 21′s assets.. . . more

More retailers file for bankruptcy twice as they struggle with rising debt, pressure from Amazon

In the last decade, numerous retail chains have filed for bankruptcy protection twice. Examples include Barneys New York, RadioShack, Wet Seal and American Apparel.

It’s a scenario that’s getting more common for traditional retailers as they find themselves under pressure from a sea change in where and how people are shopping.. . . more