Notable Headlines

June 24, According to the Boston Globe, a group of merchants at Faneuil Hall Marketplace has raised $20 million in an effort to take control of the center. They've set up a Web site called FriendsofFaneuilHall.org.

June 25, Dow Jones Newswires has a look at the trend of pop-up shops in urban markets. "Retailers are embracing the concept for a broader reach in cities like New York and Chicago as shoppers look for bargains or special items. Landlords see the short-term deals as better than no deal at all, receiving some income from hard-to-fill dark stores as they hunt for permanent tenants."

This is a trend we've tried to track in recent years, particularly the shops that have showed up in the New York area. For example, Teen Vogue operated The Haute Spot at the Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey in December. Target had four bodegas in New York city last fall. Toys 'R' Us operated a pop-up store in New York during the 2007 holiday shopping season. JC Penney had a shop in Times Square in spring 2006. We also ran a feature story on pop-up shops in February 2006.

June 25, Dress Barn has agreed to acquire Tween Brands in a $947 million all stock transaction. You can read the details here.

June 25, An open letter from Tracy Mullin, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, explains why the NRF has backed off merger talks with the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

June 29, Our July cover story looks at private equity's checkered record in buying out retailers

June 30, Sears rolled out a buyer protection plan. The program sounds a lot like what some car companies are doing by providing consumers with a backstop in the event that they lose their jobs within a certain time frame of making a purchase. Hyundai especially has been able to maintain its sales better than competitors in part because of its Assurance Plan.

The free program, which starts Monday and runs through Aug. 1, covers appliance purchases of more than $399 made on a Sears card by cardholders who lose their job. Cardholders must have held a full-time job for at least 60 days when the appliance was purchased.

If a customer loses his or her job, the program will credit 1/12th of the purchase price to the account for each month the cardholder is out of work. If the person is still out of work one year after the purchase, he or she will receive an account credit for what's left of the purchase amount and get to keep the appliance without any further payment obligations.


June 30, The National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Industry Outlook Softened in May as Restaurant Performance Index Posted First Decline in Five Months.

Calculated Risk noted this marks the 21st straight month of traffic declines at restaurants. The blog also produced a chart of the index going back to 2002, which you can view below.

June 30, Our weekly newsletter looked at the current state of concessions in negotiations between tenants and landlords.

July 1, Two stories looked at grocery stores and prices. Reuters has a piece up about how grocers are on the defensive because of dollar stores. Such chains are expanding rapidly and capitalizing on consumers' frugality in the face of the difficult economic conditions. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal today had a piece about the positives of low grocery prices. That story's position is that deflation in food prices has made supermarkets more competitive with discounters and warehouse clubs.

July 6, The National Retail Federation released its annual ranking of the largest retailers as ranked by 2008 revenue. A story and links to the rankings can be found here. An analysis of the list shows that discounters continue to gain ground while conventional department stores continue to slip.

July 6, Pier 1 CEO Alex Smith told shareholders that he sees"light at the end of the tunnel." The retailer's strategy of selling real estate and renegotiating rents has helped it emerge from financial troubles. And despite the difficult economic climate, Smith believes the company will return to profitability.

July 6, A new Wal-Mart Supercenter opened that is a new prototype for the firm.

The Fenton location, according to Venezia, is a prototype for stores to come. He noted the wider aisles and lower shelves, and the improved layout of the store.

"We've done a lot of things that are great for customers, and great for sustainability," he said, noting that the store's new LED lighting and skylights save 75 percent of lighting costs, and low-flow sinks and toilets save about 70 percent of the store's water usage.

Additionally, the store will participate in the company's Feeding America program, donating food that has not yet expired to food banks, in an effort to become a zero-waste facility, Venezia said.


July 7, Forbes examines how, unsurprisingly, low-end retailers are thriving and luxury retailers are struggling. And the New York Times explored how jewelry stores have been hit by the downturn.

July 7, Kainos Partners Holding Co., a major Dunkin' Donuts franchisee with 56 locations, filed for Chapter 11.

July 7, According to Reuters, the spa business is booming and some analysts are saying the business is "recession proof." According to the story, "There were more than 160 million visits to U.S. spas in 2008, up nearly 16 percent from the previous year, while industry revenue grew almost 18 percent to $12.8 billion, a study by the International Spa Association showed."

July 9, The Washington Post analyzed the tough time new concepts launched by established retailers have been having.

July 13, The Wall Street Journal looked at how retailers including Gap Inc., Williams-Sonoma Inc. and AnnTaylor Stores Corp. are examining their leases and looking for cotenancy clauses that could trigger rent reductions or other breaks.

July 13, Citybiz News reported that Just Born Inc., the maker of Peeps, Mike and Ike, Hot Tamales, Teenee Beanee and Peanut Chews candies is opening its first store at National Harbor in Maryland.

July 13, Reuters looked at Wal-Mart's success with Supermercado, a chain geared toward Latino shoppers.

July 14, The National Retail Federation relased its back-to-school shopping projections. The trade association expects a 7.7 percent drop in total sales during the season. CNNMoney.com talked to some consultants about the projection. (We previewed the season on July 7.

July 15, The Washington Post has a piece today about some retailers getting the holiday shopping season going.

A small display of snow-topped villages and ornaments sits nestled between the mattress and hardware departments at the Sears store in Manassas. Next week, Toys R Us stores in the area are inviting children to decorate Christmas cards and slurp away on candy canes while their parents shop Christmas sales.

Yes, it's July, but some stores have decided that to get ahead of the poor economy they need to start now on the holiday shopping season.

The holiday shopping season seems to eat up a larger and larger percentage of the calendar each year. It's no longer November through early January. Two years ago, retailers started the holiday shopping season in October. Last year, it started even earlier with retailers beginning their marketing efforts in September. Now we've truly got Christmas in July. Amazing.

July 15, According to Supermarket News, Food Lion is joining the green parade. The company is planning a LEED-certified store in South Carolina. It will be the first LEED-certified grocery store in the state.

  • Microsoft continues to move ahead with its plan to open brick-and-mortar stores. CNET tells us the first locations will open this fall. It originally announced its intentions in February. There's a nice video below that illustrates the concept.




July 15, The New York Times looked at how luxury stores have started discount advertising, creating competition between chains you'd never previously lump together. For example, Saks and Neiman Marcus now have ads that put them in the same league as Daffy’s.

July 15, The New York Post had an update on Eddie Bauer's plight. Liquidation may be possible for the chain. "Monarch Alternative Capital and Anchorage Advisors -- a pair of New York hedge funds that together control Eddie Bauer's $200 million in debt -- aim to convert Eddie Bauer into a Web-based business to sell outdoor clothing and other licensed products, sources told The Post."

July 15, Target is now backing up Wal-Mart's position on health care.

July 15, H&M is showing some weakness. Same-store sales fell 5 percent in June compared to a 2 percent drop in the same period last year.

July 16, Neiman Marcus entered into a $600 million amended credit agreement

July 17, RetailWire assessed Starbucks' strategy of not having its name on some of its stores to make them seem like independent neighborhood coffee shops. The experts are not impressed.

July 17, Golden Gate Capital won the bankruptcy auction for Eddie Bauer with a $286 million bid. As the company’s new owner, Golden Gate will “maintain the substantial majority of Eddie Bauer’s stores and employees,” Eddie Bauer said in a press release. There was speculation that Eddie Bauer might be liquidated if purchased by a different buyer.

July 20, Supermarket News released its list of the Top 75 food retailers in the U.S.

July 20, Here's a local news report looking at one of Forever 21's department-store-sized stores. It opened on the site of a former Gottschalk's. Forever 21 will also be moving into at least 15 former Mervyns' locations.

For other videos, check the Retail Traffic Videowire at ClipSyndicate.

Retail Sales Picture

June same-store sales, as expected, came in negative. According to Retail Metrics, same-store sales fell 4.3 percent. Retail Forward's stats show a 4.2 percent decline. (Retail Forward's data includes 32 retailers and the results can be viewed in in this PDF.) ICSC's data, meanwhile, shows a 5.1 percent decline, also based off 32 retailers. (The report can be downloaded here if you're a member of ICSC.) ICSC's data charted from 1993 to the present can be viewed below. Retail Sails also has a summary looking at 33 retailers.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reported that sales increased 0.6 percent from May to June (seasonally adjusted), and sales are off 9.6 percent from June 2008 (retail ex food services decreased 10.3 percent). Excluding autos and gas, retail sales fell again in June.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for June, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $342.1 billion, an increase of 0.6 percent (±0.5%) from the previous month, but 9.0 percent (±0.7%) below June 2008. Total sales for the April through June 2009 period were down 9.6 percent (±0.5%) from the same period a year ago. The April to May 2009 percent change was unrevised from 0.5 percent (±0.3%).

Retail trade sales were up 0.8 percent (±0.7%) from May 2009, but 10.0 percent (±0.7%) below last year. Gasoline stations sales were down 31.6 percent (±1.5%) from June 2008 and motor vehicle and parts dealers sales were down 14.1 percent (±2.5%) from last year.

Store Closure Update Bankruptcies and Liquidations

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Potential Bankruptcies & Liquidation Impact: 1,541 confirmed closures out of about 3,185 stores


Announced Closings:


Total Closings: up to 1,600 U.S. stores

Potential Impact of All Announcements to Date: 3,141 closures out of up to 4,985 potentially affected U.S. stores