Retailers rejoice — and Cyber Monday sales could set a record

November 27, 2017 in Latest News

Shoppers opened their wallets Thanksgiving weekend, setting records in online purchases while also hitting the malls in a big way, giving retailers a strong start to the holiday shopping season.

The next big test comes Monday, also known as Cyber Monday, when consumers are expected to take to their keyboards in record numbers to pursue online discounts.

Shoppers spent $5.03 billion on Black Friday, traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year, 16.9% more than on that day in 2016, and a new record, according to Adobe Analytics.

Thanksgiving Day also saw a surge in online spending, with purchases leaping 18.3%, to $2.87 billion, as compared to last year, Adobe says. That performance bolstered the forecast that Cyber Monday could become the largest online shopping day in history, generating $6.6 billion in sales, 16.5% more than in 2016.

ShopperTrak, meanwhile found that customer visits slipped less than 1% on Black Friday, and dropped a combined 1.6% over both Thanksgiving and Black Friday. In-store traffic declined 4.5% on Black Friday, according to RetailNext which analyzes in-store performance.

“It was a huge win,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman of consulting firm Deloitte. “I think bricks and mortar (malls and stores) held their own this weekend, which is exactly what (retailers) were wanting and needing this holiday season.”

Online sales were pushed by consumers’ growing use of mobile devices for purchases: online retail giant Amazon said that purchases made via its mobile app were 50% higher on Thanksgiving than the number placed on smartphones and tablets on the same day last year.

The long weekend was the first big test of the holiday season, the make-or-break period for retailers. It’s particularly critical this year in pointing to the future of chains like Toys R Us, which is restructuring under bankruptcy protection, and iconic but troubled companies like Sears and J.C. Penney, which have shuttered stores amid dwindling profits and sliding sales.

“The holiday is when the brightest light gets shone on your business,” says Charlie O’Shea, lead retail analyst for the credit rating agency Moody’s. “If the website isn’t up to snuff …(customers) are not going to shop,  and if your stores aren’t looking fresh, they’re going to walk out and they’re going to go somewhere else.”

But the door-busting, deep-discount sales that are the hallmark of  Black Friday and the entire Thanksgiving weekend pose a potential dilemma for many retailers.

They need to offer deals to price-conscious shoppers, particularly when trying to compete with online giant Amazon and the world’s biggest retailer Walmart. But if they discount too much, they could erode their profits and undermine their bottom lines.

“Amazon and Walmart are battling over market share in many different categories,’’ said O’Shea, who added that the turf war is “rippling throughout retail. … There’s a lot of retailers especially during the holiday that are going to have some tough decisions to make on whether they can price that low and if they do, what’s the impact.’’

The answer won’t come until January or February, when most retailers report their fourth quarter financial performance, he says.  But “fighting with Amazon and Walmart in a price battle is not usually successful.” O’Shea says.

Still, Sides says retailers carefully assess what they need to charge to woo customers and still make money. “Most would like to be promotional early and then they can adjust vs. not having an offer that’s compelling and having the consumer go somewhere else,” he says.

Sonia Syngal, president and CEO of Old Navy said Friday that it was seeing long lines at its stores, and strong business online as well.

The company’s focus “is to ensure the customer is getting great value . . and at the same time that we’re driving a healthy business,” Syngal said in an interview. “I think we’re finding that right balance.”

Despite its strong showing, Black Friday is no longer the only day shoppers can grab the season’s best deals, with retailers rolling out bargains throughout November, including on Thanksgiving Day when big box giants and department stores like Target, Kmart and Macy’s were open.

The dip was evident in Rehoboth Beach, Del., where Ayla Orteza, manager at a Michael Kors outlet said the throngs arrived between 3 and 5 a.m.Friday morning, and managers of several other outlet stores agreed that the Black Friday rush had already come and gone by the time the sun came up.

In Wisconsin, Bev Huettl noticed that the aisles were a little less crowded.

“Normally we shop all night, but they closed the mall at midnight,” Huettl, of Greenville, Wis., said of her holiday trek to stores in Grand Chute, about 100 miles north of Milwaukee. “Black Friday is not as bad as it used to be. It’s not crazy busy. I think that’s because more people are going online.”

That was the case with Rhonda Graphos and Robynn Gershmehl, sisters from Appleton, Wis, who said they got plenty of online shopping done well before Black Friday, so their lists were shorter and the need to fill their carts on that day a little less urgent.

“It was nice not getting beat up by the crowds,” said Gershmehl.

The slight dip in store traffic was expected, with shoppers telling consultancy Deloitte that for the first time, they planned to spend more of their budget — 51% — shopping online rather than in store, where 42% of their dollars would go.

“As more people move to spending online, foot traffic is going to be down slightly,” Sides says, “but again, I think people were predicting a doomsday scenario and that everybody was going to be online and that’s not the case at all.’’

In some spots, the decision by some stores to close on Thanksgiving, resulted in long lines Friday morning.Hundreds of people waited before dawn outside Menards, a Wisconsin-based home improvement store, and its parking lot was filled by 6 a.m.

Carts were all taken six minutes after the store opened, and shoppers who came later grabbed garbage cans to collect their purchases which included items ranging from dog beds to salt lamps.

“We’re fortunate that it’s 40 degrees,” said general manager Tony Jacobson, standing outside in short sleeves and no jacket, about the relatively balmy weather.


Sears is closing 63 more stores

November 10, 2017 in Latest News


Sears Holdings is shuttering another round of stores, the retailer’s employees learned on Thursday. But those doors won’t be closed until after the holidays.

The latest list of store closures includes 45 Kmart locations and 18 Sears boxes. Closings are expected to begin in late January of next year. Meantime, liquidation sales will begin as early as Nov. 9.

“Sears Holdings continues its strategic assessment of the productivity of our Kmart and Sears store base and will continue to right size our store footprint in number and size,” a memo reads on the company’s website.

“In the process, as previously announced we will continue to close some unprofitable stores as we transform our business model so that our physical store footprint and our digital capabilities match the needs and preferences of our members,” Sears said.

The embattled department store chain has been looking for ways to keep its core businesses afloat. Those initiatives include selling off in-house brands, seeking loans from Sears’ CEO, Eddie Lampert, and recently teaming up with Amazon to market Sears’ Kenmore appliances.

Assets sales, for Sears, could be another source of operating cash.

In Sears’ latest quarter, same-store sales tumbled more than 11 percent, as total revenue fell to $4.37 billion, from $5.66 billion, and was driven lower because of recent store closures, according to the company.

In turn, Sears is testing smaller store formats across the U.S., and in some cases moving to occupy a pint-sized portion of a bigger box, as mall operators look to redevelop their properties.

Sears shares were falling about 3 percent Friday morning, and are down more than 40 percent in 2017.

Find out if your local Sears or Kmart store is one of those being closed.

Source: CNBC

Grocery price check: Costco is 58 percent cheaper than Whole Foods, JPMorgan finds

October 19, 2017 in Latest News

Though Amazon has promised steep discounts at Whole Foods stores, now that it owns the organic supermarket chain, Costco still reigns supreme in the ongoing grocery price wars, according to JPMorgan.

“[Costco] offers an unquestioned value prop with the best pricing, curated assortment, strong private label offering, and treasure hunt atmosphere,” JPMorgan analyst Christopher Horvers wrote in a note to clients.

After completing price checks at Costco, Whole Foods, Wal-MartTarget and Aldi, Horvers and his team found Costco’s stickers, on a per-unit basis, to be a “whopping” 58 percent cheaper than those at Whole Foods.

Costco and Whole Foods share the least of their merchandise assortments in common, JPMorgan discovered, while Costco and Wal-Mart see the most overlap in their grocery stock keeping units, or SKUs.

To be sure, being a low-price leader comes with pros and cons. Investing in discounting can squeeze a retailer’s profit, and that’s what some investors worry about, as it relates to Costco.

Shares of Costco took a hit one week ago when the company posted narrower gross margins and a fourth-quarter decline in membership renewal rates. Shoppers were seen buying more fuel, which is less profitable, at Costco during the latest period.

In June, when e-commerce giant Amazon first announced its plans to acquire Whole Foods, companies like KrogerSprouts Farmers MarketSupervaluAlbertsons and even Costco watched their stocks tumble.

Goldman Sachs was one of the first investment banks to react, immediately downgrading Costco shares on the news and adding to any arguments against Amazon’s retail rivals. One trading day later, Deutsche Bank followed suit with its own Costco downgrade.

The same group of grocery stocks dropped again, a few weeks later, when Amazon revealed it would be slashing prices across Whole Foods stores once the deal between the two was complete. Investors’ fears over Costco were seen ballooning.

Nonetheless, JPMorgan’s latest price checks point out that Whole Foods’ value proposition greatly contrasts that of Costco, still.

“It is clear that [Whole Foods’] pricing would need to narrow substantially to be a threat to COST, while the Whole Foods business model would need to shift away from its ‘foodie, organic, and natural’ value prop,” Horvers wrote.

When looking at baskets of perishable groceries, dry goods and household items — each from Costco, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, Target and Aldi — Costco was consistently the least-expensive option, JPMorgan found.

Wal-Mart’s private-label products turned out to be the cheapest of the group when compared with national brands. But Costco’s Kirkland Signature nameplate is a stronger player than its peers when it comes to quality, Horvers added.

Costco faces an uphill battle from here in trying to win back lost confidence on the Street.

On a conference call with analysts and investors last week, Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti said, “As it relates to the publicity and the news and the noise around Amazon and Whole Foods, all we can do is perform.”

One factor that would help is if value-minded consumers understood the price comparisons that JPMorgan uncovered.

Costco, with its massive stores, is trying to keep up with the shift online. The warehouse retailer recently launched two new delivery options for its members, one called Costco Grocery. The service offers shoppers about 500 nonperishable goods for two-day delivery, with orders over $75 dropped off at no charge.

A second service, offered in metropolitan markets and powered by Instacart, lets shoppers choose from 1,700 items, including fresh groceries, for same-day delivery.

Costco is the the third-largest grocery retailer in the U.S., after Wal-Mart, which is No. 1, and Kroger.

Costco shares are down about 1.8 percent this year.

Source: CNBC

Wal-Mart tests direct-to-fridge; Amazon ups restaurant game

September 21, 2017 in Latest News

(Reuters) – Wal-Mart Stores Inc is testing a service to stock groceries directly to customers’ refrigerators as it seeks to take on e-commerce giant

The delivery of groceries and meal kits is emerging as the next frontier of competition among retailers.

The world’s biggest brick-and-mortar retailer said on Friday it is partnering with August Home, a provider of smart locks and home accessories, to test the service with certain customers in the Silicon Valley. (

The grocery business is set to be upended through Amazon’s acquisition of upmarket grocer Whole Foods last month and the online retailer is also entrenching itself more deeply in the restaurants business.

Amazon Restaurants on Friday teamed up with online food ordering company Olo whose network of restaurants includes Applebee’s and Chipotle.

The partnership will help Olo’s restaurant customers connect with Amazon’s delivery services.

The competition in the meal-kits business is also heating up. Supermarket operator Albertsons Cos Inc said it would buy meal-kit delivery service Plated while rival Kroger-owned Ralphs started selling meal kits in stores this week.


As part of the test, Wal-Mart delivery persons gain access to a customer’s house using a pre-authorized one-time passcode and put away groceries in the fridge and other items in the foyer.

Homeowners would receive notifications when the delivery is in progress and could also watch the real-time process from their home security cameras through the August Home app.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer has been exploring new methods of delivery and in June said it was testing using its own store employees to deliver packages ordered online.

Source: Reuters

The owner of HomeGoods just opened its first Homesense store. Here’s how the two compare

August 23, 2017 in Latest News

Who says people don’t get excited about retail anymore?

Big crowds gathered outside the first Homesense store to open in the U.S. this past week in Framingham, Massachusetts.

TJX, the parent company of TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods, is rolling out another home furnishing brand, promising this one will be different.

Taking a walk inside the Massachusetts store, one will find Homesense is organized mostly by color, pairing similarly patterned pieces throughout for shoppers in need of a little creative assistance.

Homesense’s lighting, art and furniture sections — they’re huge. But unlike HomeGoods, one won’t see many items for kids nor pets sold by the new brand.

“Just as our customers enjoy shopping both TJ Maxx and Marshalls, we are confident that loyal customers and new shoppers alike will be excited about shopping both Homesense and HomeGoods,” HomeGoods President John Ricciuti has said.

The company has promised both investors and shoppers that the overlap between a HomeGoods and a Homesense store is so minimal that TJX would consider positioning the two brands within the same strip center without fearing sales cannibalization.

Homesense locations will include a “General Store” that sells cleaning supplies and home improvement essentials like hardware, outdoor fixtures and mailboxes — more reminiscent of a Home Depot or Lowe’s.

The layout of a Homesense store aims to mimic how items would be actually be arranged in someone’s home, according to TJX. And there will also be sections throughout tailored to specific holidays or special occasions.

Come Sept. 7, TJX will open its second U.S. Homesense location in East Hanover, New Jersey, with many more to come.

And while TJX is rolling out Homesense across America, the company still plans to open about 100 HomeGoods stores this year.

“Again, we are seeing great opportunity for the future of our company within the U.S. home sector,” TJX CEO Ernie Herrman said on a recent call with analysts and investors.

Compare and contrast HomeGoods and Homesense for yourself.

Source: CNBC

Retailers personalize holiday shopping for millennials, baby boomers

August 15, 2017 in Latest News

Stores are already gearing up for the busy holiday retail reason, when retailers bring in more than 40 percent of their revenue for the year.

Brands have already started preparing for the impact that the changing industry landscape will have on the holiday season — focusing on convenience and speed to make holiday shopping a good experience for consumers. About 76 percent of U.S. consumers expect theirs interactions with a brand to be easy, while 60 percent of shoppers ages 45 and under say they look online first, then buy products in brick-and-mortar stores.

Locking into these trends will help retailers address the landscape shift and keep sales up this holiday season, according to the report. The federation is encouraging retailers to produce quality over quantity, reward employees for relationship-building actions with customers, and use data insights to prioritize customers’ most enjoyable shopping experiences.

“Especially during peak holiday times, optimize in-store and online shopping experiences,” the report said. “Customers should be able to quickly navigate your brand, get through checkout and get on their way.”

Holiday retail sales during November and December 2016 increased 4 percent over 2015 to $658.3 billion, exceeding NRF’s forecast of $655.8 billion. The number includes $122.9 billion in non-store sales, which were up 12.6 percent over the year before. Consumers showed more confidence during the holiday season, and December was up 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted from November and 3.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Stores are specifically targeting different age demographics, and found these are what consumers want out of their shopping experiences:

1. MILLENNIALS: Price and value are the most important factores for this group, and more than 71 percent of 25 to 34 year olds use their smartphone to look up product information while shopping in stores. “They also recognize the importance of both functional and emotional aspects of the shopping experience; both are represented in where and how they decide to shop,” the report found.

2. BABY BOOMERS: About 20 percent of all baby boomers want personalized offers through their mobile device, according to the report. Boomers place value on the functional attributes when they decide whether to buy an item or not. Boomers want to shop at retailers that give them: reliability, product quality, value for the money they’ve spent and a store that allows them to stay on budget.

3. Gen X: Generation X, those born roughly between the early 1960s to the early 1980s, are described as the “on-the-go generation,” and they want to see clear value for what they buy this holiday season. They are most likely to buy products that will make their busy lives even easier. About 40 percent of Gen Xers say a fast checkout is a key factor in where they’ll shop this holiday season.

Early warning signs point to a slowdown in beauty retail, with Ulta a potential victim of its own success

August 7, 2017 in Latest News

Following quarter after quarter of rampant growth, some signs of a slowdown in the U.S. beauty market are starting to appear, cooling some optimism for this once-hot sector.

The initial warning sign occurred in early July when reports surfaced that there was more promotional activity at department stores’ cosmetics counters — once a big no-no for these large retailers.

“We’ve seen our competitors start to discount items like cosmetics, and I’m sure they’re saying we’re doing it,” Jerry Storch, CEO of Hudson’s Bay, the parent company of department store chain Saks Fifth Avenue, said on a recent conference call. “Once you get into that kind of a situation, everyone is fighting for every inch.”

Department stores had long been the only destination for women to browse for more expensive brands of blushes, lipsticks and perfumes. But nontraditional players like UltaLVMH’s Sephora and Macy’s Bluemercury came into the mix and changed the beauty landscape, and were rewarded with robust growth.

However, cosmetics giant L’Oreal on its latest earnings conference call pointed to softer trends in its North American beauty business. This caught one analyst’s attention, and he quickly issued a downgrade on Ulta’s stock.

“If our read of L’Oreal’s assessment is accurate, this, coupled with increased department store discounting, could suggest a less robust U.S. beauty market,” Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Rupesh Parikh wrote in a Monday note to clients. “As a result, we now view the backdrop as more challenging for ULTA to deliver the same level of comp and earnings upside investors have grown accustomed to.”

This news, when combined with tough year-over-year comparisons, all point to a more “challenging beauty backdrop” for certain retailers in the coming quarters, Parikh said.

And one can’t forget the ever-present threat of Amazon, which isrumored to be considering partnering with beauty supplier Violet Grey. The younger e-retailer’s website sells products from big-name brands ranging from Chanel to MAC to Tom Ford to Dior. These are partnerships hasn’t been able to secure yet.

“Because you have this area of strength [in beauty], a lot of retailers are trying to play,” Parikh said.

A representative from Amazon didn’t immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Within the past two years, Ulta has surpassed smaller rivals Sephora, Bluemercury and others to become the nation’s largest makeup merchant. Amid growing competition and the threat of falling foot traffic at stores, Ulta is still finding ways to lure shoppers through its doors.

“ULTA’s loyalty, prestigious brand access, & mass offerings drive traffic and are competitive moats, enabling ULTA to protect & gain share,” Cowen and Co. analyst Oliver Chen wrote in a recent note to clients. In some ways, Chen said he believes Ulta could become the “Amazon of beauty.”

The beauty retailer has managed to turn itself into both an online and offline shopping destination, and importantly one that key cosmetics and skin care brands are actually looking to partner with, he added.

“As our readers know, we have been and remain quite bullish on ULTA’s prospects due to a combination of company-specific initiatives, new product launches including MAC, and one of the strongest managements in retail,” Oppenheimer’s Parikh made sure to mention when he downgraded the stock earlier this week.

But for now, the company is struggling to convince Wall Street of the same story. Expectations have been set sky-high.

Ulta’s stock has fallen about 8 percent over the past six months and is down nearly 14 percent for the past three months, owing much to recent chatter about increased promotions and makeup demand on the decline.

“Ulta is a victim of their own success,” KeyBanc analyst Jason Gere told CNBC. “I think the stock is weak because people are saying all these good things can’t last forever. … [Business] has to slow at some point.”

But if you “peel back the layers of the onion,” Ulta still has tremendous runway for growth, he added, and at least for a number of years.

Ulta has managed to come out of the “shadow” of the department stores, proving it can survive and thrive as a stand-alone business, Chris Conlon, chief operating officer of retail real estate investment trust Acadia, told CNBC in an interview. “They are the best example of moving out of that [department store] box.”

After being “defined for decades as the ground floor of a department store where you were assaulted … with samples and testers,” the beauty sector has shown it’s capable of changing from that, Conlon said.

The beauty business, he added, is still a hot-ticket item for real estate folks. Landlords want a bite of that apple, if they can get it.

Time Equities, a New York-based real estate agency and advisor, told CNBC that its business is still seeing strong demand from beauty operators in 2017, despite talk of the sector cooling off. Ami Ziff, who leads the firm’s national retail team, said Time Equities is currently working on four prospective Ulta stores within its portfolio.

Meantime, Ulta is scheduled to open its first location in Manhattan later this year — a 12,000-square-foot box on the Upper East Side. Sephora and Bluemercury are both in close proximity down the block, but Ulta’s footprint will undoubtedly be the biggest of the group.

The market still looks to be fair game for other retail players, too. At least no one company is really slowing growth.

Target and internet giant Amazon, for example, are looking to beef up their beauty offerings.

“[Target is] bringing in things that are trending, bringing in reasonably priced product and trying to get consumers excited,” NPD Group’s beauty analyst, Larissa Jensen, told CNBC. “Amazon is definitely going after beauty in a different way.”

Amazon, Jensen said, is really able to win in beauty when it comes to replenishment — when women know exactly what they want, and when they want it.

Online players still only bring in less than 20 percent of total beauty dollar sales, NPD has found. Most females refuse to give up the “touch and feel” aspect of shopping when looking for the right shade of powder, lip gloss or eye shadow.

The threats and talk of Amazon making a bigger push into prestige beauty online are overblown and shouldn’t steal from Ulta’s success, Cowen’s Chen said. In fact, Ulta is looking to make its own push online, he pointed out.

Ulta has set the bar high because of what investors have seen — double-digit growth in the high teens for same-store sales, quarter after quarter, Anthony Chukumba, an analyst at Loop Capital, told CNBC in an interview.

“But a sequential slowdown wouldn’t end well. Absolutely not. … The next earnings report is going to be so pivotal.” Ulta is set to report earnings after the bell on Thursday, Aug. 24.

For now, Ulta’s biggest concern is that the company doesn’t get too complacent with where it stands against its competitors. And that it keeps its store concept fresh, its customers satisfied and its investors believers.

Source: CNBC


Staples may spin off its retail chain to Office Depot

July 31, 2017 in Latest News

A merger between Staples and Office Depot may finally be in the cards — but it won’t be the kind that company brass had longed for, or that regulators had feared.

Staples, which agreed a month ago to be acquired by private-equity firm Sycamore Partners for $6.9 billion, has also lately held talks to spin off its 1,500 retail stores to longtime rival Office Depot, sources told The Post.

Such a deal would create the nation’s only big-box office-supplies chain, with thousands of locations coast to coast. Still, its price tag would be dwarfed by the value of Staples’ pending buyout as doubts about the prospects for brick-and-mortar stores grow, according to insiders.

If Staples got out of the retail business, “It would be the end of an era,” says Craig Johnson, president of retail consultancy Customer Growth Partners. “This is a company that helped create the idea of a superstore. Unfortunately, the concept of a superstore has come and gone.”

Staples revealed in a public filing last week that on June 5, a bidder it called “Party A” offered between $625 million and $700 million for Staples’ North American retail locations.

“Party A” was Office Depot, which was angling to rebrand the Staples locations under its own name, according to a source close to the situation. Staples shunned the bid, agreeing instead on June 28 to go private under Sycamore in a buyout valued at 10 times the price of Office Depot’s retail deal.

Indeed, Sycamore Partners paid a premium not for Staples’ stores, but rather to control the company’s lucrative business selling paper, pens and ink cartridges to mid-size and big corporate clients.

As such, sources say Sycamore has signaled a willingness to offload the stores which, like much of the retail sector, are struggling as shoppers increasingly shift their buying to online rivals led by Amazon.

It’s not clear whether Office Depot and Staples have rekindled talks, but with Sycamore a willing seller, Office Depot is the most logical buyer, insiders said.

In a call last week with potential lenders to Staples’ distribution or “delivery” business that serves corporate accounts, Sycamore executives “tried very hard not to talk about retail,” according to an investor who listened to the presentation.

“They only thing they said about retail was they did not see much delivery business happening in the stores,” according to the source.

As it looks to finance the buyout, Sycamore is separating the distribution business from the retail side. Likewise, Sycamore execs have assured lenders that if the stores are sold, there will be no impact on lenders to Staples’ distribution business, according to sources.

The nation’s two leading office-supplies chains tried and failed to combine their businesses in a pair of mega-deals — one in 1997, the other in 2015 — but were smacked down both times by the Federal Trade Commission on antitrust concerns.

Fears of a retail monopoly helped thwart the 1997 deal, but by 2015 then-FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez fretted that a merger was “likely to eliminate beneficial competition that large companies rely on to reduce the costs of office supplies.”

Staples said in its filing last week that the all-stock offer last month from “Party A” carried regulatory risks. But with competitors like Walmart, Costco and Target selling office supplies in a tough sector, few expect an Office Depot acquisition of stores would get blocked.

“Combining Staples and Office Depot may well make sense,” according to Johnson. “Granted, the combined fleet will still have to be consolidated and there would be store closures.”

Meanwhile, Sycamore appears to be betting that Staples’ expertise negotiating the hassles of corporate supply contracts will remain a significant barrier as Amazon looks to gain a foothold in office supplies.

That may turn out to be a risky bet, too. Last week, Amazon said its office-supplies business has served 1 million business customers since its launch two years ago, and that it has grown 150 percent over the past year.

Staples and Sycamore spokespeople declined comment. Office Depot did not return calls.


Source: New York Post

Shares of this sports retailer are crashing, dragging Foot Locker, Nike down with it

July 26, 2017 in Latest News

 Sporting goods retailer Hibbett Sports issued a profit warning Monday that sent its shares spiraling down more than 25 percent and delivered a blow to some of the company’s peers.

Hibbett said it expects its comparable-store sales — a metric closely watched by Wall Street for retail stocks — to fall about 10 percent during the fiscal second quarter on account of “very challenging sales trends.”

The drop in sales combined with “significant pressure on gross margins” is expected to result in the company reporting a loss of 19 cents to 22 cents per diluted share for the second quarter, Hibbett said.

The retailer’s forecast sent shock waves across the entire sporting goods sector, with shares of Foot Locker falling 3.9 percent, Dick’s Sporting Goods dropping about 2.4 percent, and Finish Line was down about 4.8 percent. Sporting apparel brands also took a hit, with Nikeshares sliding 1.2 percent, and Under Armour‘s stock dropped about 2.9 percent Monday morning.

The downward pressure from these stocks was weighing on the S&P Retail ETF (XRT), which was recently down about 1.1 percent.

“Hibbett’s results suggest that the sports market is still in a state of flux following the recent spate of bankruptcies,” Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail, told CNBC.

“This, combined with the fact that consumed interest in sports has waned slightly, has been unhelpful to sales and especially to margins.”

Hibbett also said it launched a new e-commerce platform that is integrated with its stores, so shoppers can view available in-store inventory and also fulfill online orders from stores.

“Despite the difficult retail environment, the Company remains focused on improving its business for the long term,” Hibbett CEO Jeff Rosenthal said in a statement. “Launching an e-commerce site has been a key strategic goal for Hibbett, and we took time to invest in our omnichannel infrastructure to do it the right way.”

Hibbett is in a particularly weak position compared with its rivals and doesn’t have as much “financial muscle,” GlobalData Retail’s Saunders said. Thus, the retailer has made “lackluster efforts” in investing in digital and won’t reap as many benefits, he added.

“Hibbett used to point out that the local nature of its store locations made it defensible against larger players and online. That logic no longer applies, and Hibbett is feeling the pain of not investing in new channels fast enough,” Saunders said.

With Monday’s declines, shares of Hibbett Sports have tanked more than 60 percent over the past 12 months, and the stock is down about 62 percent for the year so far.

Source: CNBC


RIP Retail: These 19 retailers are closing hundreds of stores in 2017

July 20, 2017 in Latest News

As Americans do more and more of their shopping on their devices instead of at the store, traditional retailers are reeling. Some are being forced to shrink — or go out of business altogether.

Already 2017 has been a year of massive store closings, led by these chains.


Gymboree is scaling back its playground. It’s closing more than a quarter of its kids’ clothing stores as it tries to adapt to an “evolving retail landscape.”

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on June 11; exactly one month later, it announced it was shutting down 350 of its Gymboree and Crazy 8 locations, out of a total of nearly 1,300.


Payless ShoeSource filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April and said it would shut down around 400 of its weaker stores. In May, the company indicated it could close 408 additional locations.

The discount footwear chain — founded more than 60 years ago in Topeka, Kansas — has found itself running behind online competitors.


RadioShack used to be everywhere, but now the electronics chain has largely vanished from the retail map. The company that once operated 7,300 stores says it closed more than 1,000 of its remaining locations over Memorial Day weekend — leaving just 70 stores still operating.

The retailer that began in Boston in 1921 says the closings continue a move from brick-and-mortar stores to

More on this

J.C. Penney

Mall mainstay J.C. Penney says it’s shutting down as many as 140 of its department stores — up to 14 percent of the total — by mid-2017. The company is offering 6,000 employees early retirement.

Closing stores will allow Penney to “effectively compete against the growing threat of online retailers,” chairman and CEO Marvin Ellison said in a news release.


After shuttering dozens of stores in 2016, department store giant Macy’s began 2017 by announcing plans to close 68 more of its locations, including a store in downtown Minneapolis that opened in 1902. The company estimates that 3,900 jobs will be lost as a result of the closures.

“We continue to experience declining traffic in our stores,” Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren said in a news release.

Sears and Kmart

Struggling Sears Holdings Corp. began the year saying it would shut down 42 of its Sears stores.  In May it moved to close a dozen more, in June another 20 locations were added to the closure list, and in July eight more were targeted.

Where will it end? Here’s one possible clue: In a March 21 filing with regulators, the retailer warned that there’s “substantial doubt” about the company’s ability to continue.

At the start of 2017, Sears’ parent company said it also was closing 108 of its Kmart discount stores. In the spring, the company quietly started winding down business at 18 additional Kmart locations. And in July, 35 more made a closings list.

The stores going out of business in 2017 have included the very first Kmart, which opened in 1962 in Garden City, Michigan.

The Limited

In early 2017, women’s clothing retailer The Limited announced it was turning out the lights at all 250 of its stores.

The company showed signs of doom during its major holidays sales (with a no-returns policy) and ultimately filed for bankruptcy. Some 4,000 workers were laid off, according to Business Insider.

Abercrombie & Fitch

Abercrombie & Fitch — whose torn jeans and ripped models epitomized cool in the 1990s and early 2000s — says it will shut down 60 of its U.S. stores in 2017 as their leases expire. That’s out of approximately 285 stores worldwide.

Research group Fitch Ratings predicts Abercrombie will continue to struggle.

Michael Kors

Luxury fashion brand Michael Kors announced in May it would be closing up to 125 of its more than 800 retail stores over the course of two years.

The company is in “a difficult retail environment” and under pressure from price-cutting rivals, Kors chairman and CEO John Idol says.

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Contemporary apparel, footwear and accessory brand Guess says it’s closing 60 of its stores by the end of the year. The company says in a statement that it’s shrinking its footprint because its business in the Americas has been “soft.”

As of April 2017, Guess operated about 950 stores worldwide.

American Apparel

The hip U.S.-made clothing retailer American Apparel filed for bankruptcy early in 2017 and has since closed all of its more than 100 U.S. stores. Canada’s Gildan Activewear acquired the American Apparel brand but passed on taking over the retail stores.


Electronics and appliance chain hhgregg filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early 2017 and announced plans to close 88 of its 220 stores. The retailer says it expects to emerge from bankruptcy as a stronger and more agile company. The closings will eliminate approximately 1,500 jobs.


Another chain going to bankruptcy court in 2017 is the women’s apparel retailer BCBG Max Azria. It filed for Chapter 11 in March after announcing it would shutter 120 of its locations, more than a quarter of the total.

Acting Interim CEO Marty Staff says BCBG is trying to address “the shift in customer shopping patterns and the growth of online shopping.”


Pharmacy giant CVS says it will close 70 stores in 2017, out of its total of more than 9,600.

The company says the effort is part of streamlining initiative to improve efficiency, lower overall costs and remain nimble in an ever-changing health care environment.

The Children’s Place

The Children’s Place, a clothing chain for kids, announced in March 2015 that it would close approximately 200 stores through 2017.

The retailer had originally said it would shut down 125 stores through 2016, but it expanded that plan because of a weak outlook. As of January, The Children’s Place operated about 1,040 stores.

Wet Seal

Early in 2017, teen fashion retailer Wet Seal closed its remaining 171 stores. The company had been shrinking since filing for bankruptcy protection in January 2015. The Wall Street Journal reports Wet Seal’s sales dwindled because of fading foot traffic at shopping malls.


Teen apparel chain rue21 began shuttering some 400 stores of its nearly 1,200 stores in April and announced a bankruptcy filing the following month. In a news release, CEO Melanie Cox says even in a tough business climate, the company continues to enjoy “an enthusiastic and loyal customer base, and hundreds of highly performing stores.”


Women’s clothing seller Bebe closed all 175 of its brick-and-mortar stores this spring and said it would explore new strategies for its business. The company had previously said it would shut down just 21 locations.