Over the past month, a series of stories have emerged underlining some of the tensions between landlords and tenants. Several examples emerged of retail tenants at properties teaming up in attempts to win concessions. This took place, reportedly, at The Plaza in New York and Los Angeles' Grand Central Market. Meanwhile, a debate about whether or not retailers should have more than the current 210 days to accept or reject leases played out in Congress. Retailers think the window is too small. Landlords, who fought for years to get the law changed and eventually got their way in 2005, want to keep the timeframe just the way it is now. Landlords are also unhappy because they think some retailers are using bankruptcy and early lease termination clauses as leverage for lower rent.
The Commerce Department’s figures for February came in better than expected. Sales fell 0.1 percent from February–less than what analysts had predicted. Excluding autos, sales rose 0.7 percent. On an even more positive note, January sales–which had been reported as rising 1.0 percent–were revised upward to a 1.8 percent gain. Meanwhile, ICSC's numbers showed same-store sales in February dropped 0.1 percent, the best performance in six months. The enthusiasm over the figures was tempered, however, by the fact that February accounts for only about 6 percent of retailer sales annually.
Hedge Fund manager William Ackman planned to nominate himself and four others to the board of Target Corp., the discount chain whose performance has trailed Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Ackman, who heads Pershing Square Capital Management LP, told Bloomberg Television that he will propose Richard Vague, a former bank executive; Jim Donald, who served as CEO at Starbucks Corp.; Michael Ashner, chairman and CEO of Winthrop Realty Trust Inc.; and Ronald Gilson, a law professor at Stanford University and Columbia University. In other news for the company, it pulled off a coordinated opening of 27 stores in early March. Lastly, the company in late February outlined a strategy to be more aggressive in taking on Wal-Mart. In recent months, Wal-Mart's sales have far outpaced its rival's. For its part, Wal-Mart is looking to expand aggressively in Mexico where it plans to open 252 stores this year.
Tesco was the center of some controversy when one of its executives was quoted as saying the company took the wrong approach to its U.S. rollout.
Starbuck's made another move in its attempts to recast itself as an affordable option. It has rolled out $3.95 breakfasts that include coffee and an egg sandwich. That price point was chosen intentionally to counter the derisive "Fourbucks" moniker the chain earned by selling pricey cups of java.
American Apparel, the off-beat clothing retailer, sold a 20 percent stake in the company to Lion Capital, a private equity firm that once owned Jimmy Choo.
A troubling trend has emerged where department stores have been losing jewelry sections as operators such as Finlay Enterprises opt to close locations.
Fashion industry icon Giorgio Armani is opening a new 43,000-square-foot concept store in Manhattan. “Luxury before was just an elite thing," Armani told the Associated Press. "Now the sense of luxury is more democratic."
Apparel retailer Charlotte Russe said it will "initiate the process” for selling the company, allowing the women’s apparel retailer to enter into formal negotiations with potential buyers.
Here’s a rundown of the announcements so far when it comes to bankruptcies, liquidations and announced closings.
Bankruptcies and Liquidations:
- Jan. 7, Goody's liquidates, closing 287 stores
- Jan. 8, Against All Odds files for bankruptcy protection, operates 64 stores overall, plans to close West Coast stores
- Jan. 13, Shane Co. files for bankruptcy, operates 23 stores
- Jan. 14, Gottschalks files for bankruptcy, operates 58 stores
- Jan. 16, Circuit City to Liquidate, closing 567 stores
- Feb. 6, Fortunoff, operates 20 stores
- Feb. 6, Bruno's, operates 66 stores
- Feb. 12, S&K Famous Brands, operates 136 stores
- Feb. 17, Innovation Luggage, operates 10 stores
- Feb. 23, Ritz Camera, operates about 1,000 stores
- March 6, Joe's Sports & Outdoor, operates 30 stores
Potential Bankruptcies & Liquidation Impact: 884 confirmed closures out of about 2,261 stores
- Jan. 8, New York & Co., 50 stores
- Jan. 8, Macy's, 11 stores
- Jan. 9, Supervalu, 50 stores
- Jan. 13, Cost Plus, 26 stores
- Jan. 20, Yankee Candle, 28 Illuminations stores
- Jan. 21, Filene's Basement, 11 stores
- Jan. 22, Phillips-Van Heusen, 175 stores
- Jan 22, Brown Shoe, up to 35 Famous Footwear stores
- Jan. 26, Home Depot, 48 stores
- Jan. 29, Starbucks, 200 U.S. Stores (plus 100 international)
- Jan. 29, Chico's, up to 25 stores
- Feb. 9, Talbots, 20 stores
- Feb. 24, Jimmy'Z, 11 stores
- Feb. 24, Z. Gallerie, 25 stores
- Feb. 25, Zale Corp., 115 stores
- Feb. 27, Sears, 44 stores
- March 3, Virgin Megastores, 6 stores
Total Closings: up to 679 U.S. stores
Potential Impact of All Announcements to Date: 1,764 closures out of up to 3,141 potentially affected U.S. stores