Smaller Retailers Destined For Former ‘Big Box’ Stores

March 27, 2017 in Latest News

These are dark days for the traditional “big box” retailer.

Sears cast doubt this week that it could stay open, and that followed recent announcements by other struggling retail stalwarts Macy’s, J.C. Penney Co. and Kmart that they would be closing stores across the country in response to the fallout from a consumer shift to online shopping.

Electronics and appliances retailer hhgregg said this month it would be closing all 11 stores in South Florida; the announcement came less than a year after Sports Authority went out of business.

The retailers are vacating spaces of 25,000 to more than 100,000 square feet, forcing shopping center owners to find new tenants or new uses for the buildings.

More yawning spaces could be opening up around South Florida if Sears and Kmart sink amid heavy financial losses. According to their websites, Sears operates 15 locations (14 department stores and an outlet store) in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Kmart has seven stores in all three counties.

“This certainly is at the top of [landlords’] minds right now,” said Robert Granda, director of retail investment sales for the Franklin Street brokerage across South Florida. “The challenge in this changing environment is that there are not that many retailers looking to take so much space. There are a lot more tenants looking for 10,000 square feet or less than there are looking for 30,000 square feet or more.”

Alan Esquenazi, a partner at commercial real estate company CREC, agreed that a “resizing” of retail is happening across the nation.

“Bricks-and-mortar retail is unequivocally not dead,” he said. “But you have to be really sharp, really competitive. You have to offer the customer an experience, like Apple does. The retailers that are closing offered nothing different, and they were destined to fail.”

Granda, Esquenazi and other retail observers say one of the best options for landlords is to subdivide the big box buildings into smaller spaces for two or three new tenants.

That’s the plan at former Sports Authority stores in Pompano Beach and Boynton Beach, though the new tenants have not yet been announced, said Katy Welsh, senior vice president of retail services at Colliers International.

The Related Cos. of New York, which owns CityPlace in West Palm Beach, has not announced plans for the two-story, 108,000-square-foot Macy’s that’s due to close this spring. But analysts say filling that space with multiple tenants is a strong possibility.

“My guess is that CityPlace will subdivide that space downstairs, and there likely will be a food and entertainment use upstairs,” said Alan Bush, CEO of Northlake Partners, a retail strategy company based in West Palm Beach. “That combination provides the best return on investment for the landlord.”

Welsh said retailers most likely interested in taking at least part of the space in former big box stores include discount clothing chains Ross, TJ Maxx and Marshall’s as well as Home Goods and Orchard Supply Hardware.

Another possibility is the grocery store chain group, including Trader Joe’s and Lucky’s Market, Welsh said. Lidl, a German grocer, is headed to Florida after expanding into the Carolinas, Virginia and Texas, she said.

Movie theaters are another possibility, but they wouldn’t be an ideal fit in smaller, older centers, analysts say.

Landlords are eager to find new tenants at a higher cost per square foot to replace the retailer-friendly leases signed by Kmart and other chains many years ago, according to Welsh.

As a consumer, she said it’s hard for her to accept that Sears and other former retailing powerhouses are struggling to survive. But as a retail observer, she’s intrigued by what’s ahead.

“From a landlord’s perspective,” she said, “we’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop for a long time.”


Source:  SunSentinel

Retailers: Ups And Downs Heading Into 2017

December 27, 2016 in Latest News

escalatorThe good news for U.S. retailers this holiday seasons is that revenues are expected to rise by about 4% and same-store sales are figured to increase by 1%. The less-good news is that profits for the fourth quarter (ending in January) are expected to fall 1.8%.

Heavy promotional pricing began earlier this year and retailers essentially faced a race to the bottom in an effort to maintain sales. But store traffic has not improved; in fact it’s weakened. And Inc. continues to take sales and profits from brick-and-mortar stores.

The result is likely to be that supposed and announced store closures will go ahead as planned and may even increase for some retailers. According to an estimate made last June from Green Street Advisors, about 25% of all U.S. department stores need to close in order for the industry to return to the sales-per-square-foot levels of 2006.

A total of 14 major retail chains have said that they will close at least 100 stores by the end of 2020. Most will reach that total by the end of 2017. In some cases, these numbers appear to be on the low side, given the difficulties some retailers are encountering.

Aeropostale. The chain filed for bankruptcy in May 2016 and said it would close 154 stores. Now it appears that the chain will close all but about 230 of its 800 or so stores.

American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (NYSE: AEO). The company plans to close 150 stores over three years.

Chicos FAS Inc. (NYSE: CHS). Planned to close 120 stores between fiscal 2015 and 2017.

The Children’s Place Inc. (NASDAQ: PLCE). Planned to close 200 stores between fiscal 2015 and 2017.

Finish Line Inc. (NASDAQ: FINL). Has said it will close 150 stores by 2020.

Hancock Fabrics. The company filed for bankruptcy in February 2016 and will close all 255 of its stores.

Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M). Plans to close 100 stores.

Men’s Wearhouse Inc./Jos. A. Banks. Parent Tailored Brands Inc. (NYSE: TLRD) plans to close 250 stores, primarily outlet stores.

Office Depot Inc. (NYSE: ODP). At the time of its merger with OfficeMax, the chain said it would close 400 stores by the end of this year, and that appears to be the case.

Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD). Between Sears and Kmart stores, the company plans 142 store closings, with more likely.

Sports Authority. Another bankruptcy, with 140 stores closing.

Walgreen Boots Alliance Inc. (NYSE: WBA). The company planned to close 154 stores. Last week the company announced the sale of 865 Rite Aid Inc. (NYSE: RAD) stores to Fred’s Inc. (NASDAQ: FRED) in an effort to win approval for the Walgreens-Rite Aid merger.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT). Has said it will close 154 U.S. stores and open 300 in the rest of the world.

Wolverine World Wide Inc. (NYSE: WWW). Expected to close 100 stores worldwide.


Source:  24/7 Wall Street

Sears To Accelerate Store Closing Program

February 15, 2016 in Latest News

sears closingsFollowing a “challenging” holiday season, Sears will accelerate the closure of some of its stores.

Comparable-store sales in the fourth quarter dropped 6.9 percent at Sears, and 7.2 percent at Kmart, which the also company owns.

While the quarter that contains the critical shopping season was better compared with the previous three quarters, overall same-store sales fell 9.2 percent in 2015, with Sears stores leading the decline.

As for store closures, Sears Holdings Corp. said Tuesday that it will include, but not be limited to, about 50 stores that the company recently announced it would be shuttering in the next few months.

The company will attempt at least $300 million in asset sales during the first half of fiscal 2016. Sears is also still looking at options for its auto center business, which could include a sale of all or part of the operations.

Sears said Tuesday that it has reduced its debt by about $1 billion compared with 2014, and anticipates fourth-quarter revenue of $7.3 billion and full-year revenue of $25.1 billion.

The retailer will release its quarterly and full-year financial results on Feb. 25.


Source:  US News

Can Great Real Estate Make Up for Stagnant Sales?

August 17, 2015 in Latest News

macysTop department store-operator Macy’s has come under increasing pressure to get some value out of its real estate this year.

Recently, other department store chains, such as Sears Holdings have gotten huge windfalls from selling and spinning off their valuable real estate holdings.

Most notably, Starboard Value — a hedge fund known for its activist approach — announced last month that it had purchased a stake in Macy’s and started pushing for it to separate its real estate from the rest of the company. In the past, Macy’s had resisted the idea of spinning off its real estate.

However, with sales continuing to stagnate, a real estate spinoff — or some similar transaction — is starting to look more appealing. Starboard chief Jeff Smith estimated the value of Macy’s real estate at $21 billion last month — and that’s almost exactly what the entire company’s market cap is today.

Sales growth grinds to a halt
While struggling rivals like Sears have been doing big real estate deals for several years now, strong sales and earnings growth insulated Macy’s from the need to try this in the past few years.

M Revenue (TTM) Chart


As the chart shows, revenue and earnings per share bounced back strongly in the first few years after the Great Recession. However, sales growth slowed to a crawl starting in 2013. For a while, EPS continued to grow as Macy’s closed some underperforming stores and bought back stock to shrink its share count, but now EPS growth has also stalled out.

This week, Macy’s reported its second straight quarterly earnings miss. For the first half of the year, EPS declined 15% year over year, from $1.40 to $1.19. Due to weak sales in the first half of 2015, Macy’s cut its full-year guidance. It now expects comparable store sales to be about flat for the full year, compared to its original guidance for 2% comp growth.

In spite of the weaker-than-expected sales performance, Macy’s maintained its guidance for full-year EPS to rise to $4.70-$4.80. The reason? You guessed it: real estate.

Real estate saves the day?
On the same day as its Q2 earnings release, Macy’s also announced plans to sell the upper floors of its store in Brooklyn and an attached parking garage to real estate company Tishman Speyer. It will net a gain of $250 million on the sale, bringing in total proceeds of $270 million: $170 million in cash and $100 million to fund a full renovation of the remaining 310,000 square foot store.

A month earlier, Macy’s had announced another real estate transaction, selling its downtown Pittsburgh store to Core Realty. In that case, the Macy’s store is being shut down.

These moves show that Macy’s is starting to take a more active approach toward monetizing its real estate. Both of these transactions were one-off deals that by themselves will have only a small impact on Macy’s value. However, the company has also started working with advisors to formulate potential strategies for maximizing the value of its real estate, according to CFO Karen Hoguet.

Sears has gone much further down the road of monetizing its real estate. In 2012, Sears sold 11 stores — including a highly desirable location in Honolulu’s Ala Moana Center — to General Growth Properties for $270 million. Between 2012 and 2013, Sears sold the leases for about a dozen high-profile stores in Canada back to the landlords for well over $0.5 billion.

To cap it all off, Sears created a REIT called Seritage Growth Properties, with interests in nearly 300 Sears properties. Sears executed a giant sale-leaseback agreement with Seritage — generating proceeds of $2.7 billion — and spun it off to shareholders last quarter.

These lucrative real estate transactions are almost certainly the only reason why Sears has managed to survive this long despite its terrible sales trends. Given that Macy’s doesn’t have a money-losing retail operation dragging it down, does this mean that by selling or spinning off its real estate, it could generate a big windfall that could be returned to shareholders?

Unlocking real estate value isn’t magic
To some extent, the answer is yes. However, investors need to recognize that there’s no magical way for Macy’s to get value out of its real estate. Its New York, Chicago, and San Francisco flagships are all extremely valuable buildings, but no matter how their ownership is structured, they will still generate the same amount of profit. The only question is how to divide that pie between Macy’s and (theoretically) a real estate company.

The way that retail real estate separations create real value is by converting properties to more efficient uses. That’s what’s happening in Brooklyn and Pittsburgh, where Macy’s is downsizing and closing its stores, respectively.

That’s also what Sears has done across the U.S. and Canada, vacating high-profile malls in favor of more successful retailers (primarily Nordstrom) that can afford higher rents. Insofar as Macy’s is already earning good returns on most of its stores, the upside from selling or spinning off its real estate is correspondingly lower than for Sears.

That said, there are tax benefits to separating the real estate as a REIT. And since a REIT would generate more stable earnings and cash flow than Macy’s, it could attain a higher valuation.

Macy’s ultimately may split its retail operations from its real estate in order to capture these tax and valuation benefits. However, the 70% stock upside that Starboard’s Jeff Smith touted last month seems like a stretch. The real value of Macy’s real estate is as a parachute to ensure a smooth landing for investors if its retail business eventually falters.


Source:  Motley Fool

Shopping Malls Must Adjust With Times To Survive

May 19, 2014 in Latest News

mallThe announcement earlier this week that Sears will be closing 500 stores nationwide is just another example of the struggle shopping malls are facing as anchor stores vanish.

Matt Bear, vice president of CBRE, a Las Vegas-based commercial real estate group, said although the national retail market has been changing for quite some time, people are just starting to notice.

“It’s just become evident recently, but it was always happening. It’s just taken a longer time to see it,” he said. “Consumer tastes are always changing and stores like Sears haven’t done a good job keeping up because they’ve been forcing customers into a 50-year-old business plan that doesn’t work anymore.”

Bear said shopping malls must adjust with the changing times if they want to survive.

“They have to go back and consider what the right merchandise mix is, which means they may have to terminate leases or incorporate entertainment concepts to fill a void,” he said. “It’s about right sizing these malls, which can be painful, but none of this is easy.”

Although Las Vegas retail seems to be booming, Bear said the city still feels the effect of national market trends.

“The Strip is an anomaly and we’ll always be different in terms of that no matter what, but suburban Vegas has the same challenges that everyone else does,” he said. “The recession taught us that good retail has gone down in value but some projects have gotten stronger with regards to their amount and variety of tenants.”

The Linq, which opened in the corridor between the Flamingo and The Quad in February, boasts more than 250,000 square feet of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, entertainment venues and retail space.

The Linq offers an open-air venue that people desire, said Rick Caruso, founder and CEO of Caruso Affiliated, a Los Angeles-based company that develops and manages the property.

“People still want social hubs, places that create great ambience and enable couples, friends and families to connect over a meal, entertainment or shopping,” he said. “Today’s shoppers want human-scale, livable settings, and a great experience so retailers, developers and cities must embrace the soul of retail’s past to ensure a future. While mechanics and technology change over time, the human need driving retail does not.”

Caruso said the popularity of online shopping won’t drive people away from stores.

“E-commerce is obviously an aspect of shopping that is here to stay, however, we shouldn’t see that as a threat to the traditional approach of brick-and-mortar shopping,” he said. “Instead, we should embrace this change and use it to engage with the customer further to ultimately enhance an in-person experience. I believe that stores will remain as destinations to highlight and augment the brand experience.”

Fashion Show mall senior general manager Jim Heilmann said the Strip shopping mall attracts customers with personal shopping services, hotel delivery, convenient returns and valet parking.

“Fashion Show also provides that one-of-a-kind, only-in-Vegas experience with its famous state-of-the-art professional fashion shows that rise out of the ground on a retractable runway,” he said. “Customers have an opportunity to see the latest fashions showcased on the runway before they make their purchases.”

Heilmann added that nearly six months into the year, Fashion Show has had 45 store openings.

“We’ve been able to open top-notch brands that are firsts in Nevada, including the Lego Store, Dynamite, Halston Heritage, Vince Camuto, Topshop/Topman, Disney Store and more,” he said. “This is proof positive that the center is performing and retail is on an uptick.”

At Treasure Island, a three-story building is being erected in the resort’s lagoon area where the infamous pirate ship sits. The nearly 50,000-square-foot addition, at the southwest corner of Las Vegas Boulevard South and Spring Mountain Road, is expected to open in September.

Michelle Knoll, senior vice president of communications, said CVS Pharmacy will occupy the building’s ground floor and that the remaining two floors have yet to be leased.

“This corner is a highly visible retail environment so it was an obvious choice,” she said. “The time seemed right as the economy has improved.”

Meanwhile, in Henderson, sales and traffic have increased at Galleria at Sunset in the last year, Marketing Director Heather Valera said.

“Our mix of five department stores, Dillard’s, Macy’s, J.C. Penney’s, Kohl’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods, continues to be a strong draw for the center and one of the top driving forces that shoppers select Galleria at Sunset over our competition,” she said.

During the recession, Valera said, Galleria struggled with retailers filing for bankruptcy and vacating the shopping center abruptly, leaving little time to replace them. She said community partnerships with Henderson libraries and the Henderson Police Department helped to fill the vacancies.

The mall’s focus, Valera said, is using the latest technology to reach out to customers.

“We engage our shoppers through our website with compelling content and interactive elements, a mobile app and text program, and interact with them through social media,” she said. “The center has embraced our shoppers’ need for more electronic communication.”

Retail developments have been underway at Boulevard Mall since Henderson-based Sansone Cos. acquired the nearly 50-year-old mall at 3528 S. Maryland Parkway in December.

“Boulevard Mall was the center of town and is a prominent iconic property,” President Ronald Sansone said. “We see the value and so does the surrounding community.”

Sansone said the mall has an 80 percent occupancy rate and 144 stores.

“The neighborhood is transitioning and new households are forming with young people embracing the older midmodern homes in the area, starting their families and the cycle starts over,” he said. “As we continue our improvements to the site, we’ll be adding new and exciting tenants and restaurants.”

Bear said he’s confident the future of retail is bright.

“People will still want to shop and you’ll still have people making impulse buys,” he said. “However, we all want choices and the retailers who can embrace those choices will have the best chance of getting the customers.

“If you don’t figure out a way to cater to your demographic, it’s only a matter of time before you go out of business.”


Source:  Review Journal