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Refreshing Retail - Issue #10

October 2023
Mike Jordan, Big V Property Group Director of Research

Halloween Spending to Reach New Highs in 2023

  • NRF projects total spending to top $12 billion
  • Halloween participation is now higher than at any point since 2017 - exceeding pre-pandemic levels
  • Per-capita spending is up over 5% to $108.24 Read More >>

More Holiday Sales Projections Show Modest Growth

  • ICSC sees sales up 3.8%, roughly on par with inflation
  • 87% of consumers will do at least some shopping in brick & mortar stores Read More >>
  • Adobe predicts that online shopping will grow 4.8%, with mobile devices now outpacing PC’s as a point of sale Read More >>
  • JLL Survey: Shoppers plan to spend ~$959 per person Read More >>

Rite Aid Files for Bankruptcy, Plans to Close 154 Stores

  • The pharmaceutical retailer has over $4 billion in debt, in addition to pending settlements with over 1,600 opioid related lawsuits
  • The company has $3.45 billion in new funding to continue operations through the bankruptcy process Read More >>
  • See a list of planned store closings Read More >>
Sources: Retail Dive, Chain Store Age, Creditntell, QSR Magazine
Biggby Coffee, one of a number of upstart drive-thru cafes currently on the rise in the US, announced plans to grow by over 600 net new units in the next 5 years to a total of 1,000 shops. In order to achieve this, the Michigan-based company will need to nearly quadruple its current expansion rate that saw just 53 new stores opened in 2022. Newly appointed CFO Erin Kaylor noted that the pipeline is growing rapidly with multiple new franchisees signing up weekly. However, branded coffee chains are a highly competitive sector and Biggby’s will be competing not only with market dominant Starbucks and Dunkin, but also with fellow fast-growing drive-thru brands such as Dutch Bros, Scooters, 7 Brew, and others.
Costco has named COO and company veteran Ron Vachris as its new CEO effective January 1st. He follows in the footsteps of Craig Jelinek, who has led the wholesale club since 2012 and had also been COO prior to being appointed to take over from Costco’s cofounder Jim Sinegal. Among Vachris’s former duties at Costco, he led the company’s real estate team from 2015-2016.
Dollar General has brought Todd Vasos back into the fold as CEO after Vasos left the position in late 2022 following more than 7 years at the helm. Vasos will seek to reassure investors after several uncharacteristically weak quarters. Dollar General struggled with inventory issues under former CEO Jeff Owen and among Vasos’ top priorities will be stabilizing the supply chain.
Freddy’s Frozen Custard has announced plans to open an additional 300 restaurants by 2026, including its first foray into Canada. The Midwestern fast food staple also launched a non-traditional expansion plan – with new locations in the Oklahoma City airport, Busch Stadium in St. Louis, and a California casino.
Homegoods will shut down its e-commerce operations this month to focus its full attention on its 900 brick & mortar locations. The brand started selling online in 2021, but never saw traction in the channel as digital sales represented less than 1% of Homegoods revenue after 2 years of operations. TJX’s other online stores for TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Sierra Trading Post will remain open.
Now that Netflix has shuttered the DVD-by-mail service that launched the company while putting thousands of video stores out of business, the company announced plans this month to open a brick & mortar presence of its own. As of now, few details are known, other than the stores will offer a mix of retail, dining, and live performances based around the streaming services growing library of IP (intellectual property). The first 2 locations are set to open in 2025 in yet-to-be-determined cities, with further rollouts in the years to follow. In other Netflix news, Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness has partnered with Zulily to sell a “slay button” for $16.99 aimed at boosting the self-esteem of moms during the holiday season.
Pret-a-Manger, a quick service sandwich and coffee chain founded in the UK, plans to open an additional 250 locations in the US by 2029. Currently, Pret (as its known by fans), has a little over 50 stores primarily in the New York City to Washington DC corridor. The company plans to reopen soon in Chicago, where it has been shut down since the pandemic, and has new markets on tap in California, Texas, Florida, and Washington state.
Primark will open stores next month in Lake Grove, NY and Charlotte, NC. The Concord Mills location marks the chain’s first store in North Carolina and the southernmost opening to date for the Irish fast fashion brand which has primarily concentrated its American growth strategy on urban markets in the Northeast and Chicagoland. Primark plans to more than double its US footprint by 2026 to 60 stores, up from 24 today.
Sprouts has opened its 400th store, in Haddon Township, NJ. As part of its five-year plan, Sprouts is committed to a robust growth strategy, aiming to expand 10% year-over-year. The new store is Sprouts’ 23rd of 30 planned store openings this year. Kohl's will open 45 additional Sephora locations in 2023, bringing its total to over 900 Sephora shops-in-shop (or, roughly 75% of the chain) by the end of the year. Kohls has reported its beauty division has seen sales increase 90% over last year and plans to have Sephora in all of its stores by 2025, at which time it expects the brand to contribute $2 billion in annual sales.
Ross Stores opened 43 Ross Dress for Less stores and 8 DD's Discounts stores across 22 states in September and October. The openings included the chain's first stores in New York and Minnesota and grew its DD's brand in California, Maryland, Tennessee, and Texas. The company currently operates over 2,100 stores.
Scheel’s, the mega-sized sporting goods retailer, will open a new 250,000 square foot store in Cedar Park, TX in 2026 as part of the CedarView development with Nebraska Furniture Mart. This will be Scheel’s 35th store and 2nd in Texas, along with additional pipeline projects in Idaho and Oklahoma that will open in the coming years.
Walgreens appointed Tim Wentworth as its new CEO this month. Wentworth joins Walgreens from Evernorth, a division of Cigna focused on providing benefits management for a wide array of organizations. Wentworth’s background will further the evolution of Walgreens into a full-service healthcare provider.
Z Gallerie has filed for bankruptcy for the 3rd time in the company’s history and the 2nd time in the last two years. The furniture retailer emerged as a popular tenant in the first wave of lifestyle centers in the late 90s/early 00s, but has struggled to stay relevant since its first Chapter 11 filing in the wake of the Great Financial Crisis. The company has since shifted to be a primarily online retailer but continues to operate 32 stores. While management expressed hope that a buyer could be found, liquidation remains an option.

Retail theft is on the rise both from petty thieves and organized crime syndicates. According to a recent survey, frontline managers are feeling the heat with nearly half seeing an increased amount of customer violence in the last 30 days alone. Meanwhile, stores aren’t the only targets of retail criminals, as much of the organized theft is done in the retailer’s supply chains to the tune of an estimated $94.5 billion annually. For a sobering look at this issue, click here to read this white paper by Andres Jola-Sanchez from the Bush School at Texas A&M University.

Pickleball was invented in the 1960s near Seattle, though until about 2018 very few people had ever heard of the sport. Since then, roughly 9 million people have joined in the craze, making it “America’s Hottest Sport” according to Business Insider. As the game’s popularity grows, so will its impact on retail. Walmart tripled its shelf space for pickleball merchandise, while everyone from Lululemon to Tory Burch have seen a spike in sales of pickleball appropriate attire. Perhaps most intriguing for landlords is Picklemall, a startup that aims to locate indoor courts inside ailing malls amid a call for nearly 26,000 additional courts nationwide. To read more about how pickleball is impacting retail, check out this article from Dennis Limmer in Retail Wire >>

Video(s) of the Month: While the feds decide whether the proposed Albertsons/Kroger merger will create unfair competition in the grocery landscape, it turns out that neither company is even half the size of America’s largest grocer: Walmart. To find out more about how the retail giant won where so many others have struggled, check out this video from CNBC and if you’re looking to add some wholesome humor to your day, I think comedian Kate Micucci’s tribute to grocery stores of all kinds will do the trick >>

While retail spending remains historically strong, leading indicators are increasingly showing Americans adjusting their spending habits in the wake of high inflation.

As the baseball season winds down and those of us who set our internal calendars by the 162 game schedule prepare to go into hibernation, looking back on this season, we are clearly on the precipice of a wave of new stadium development. The Tampa Bay Rays partnered with Hines on a new ballpark in St. Petersburg, the Oakland A’s are plotting their move to Las Vegas, and cities like Nashville, Charlotte, Portland, and Salt Lake City among others have begun vying for expansion teams that will also come with new stadiums. Suddenly, it seems like the value of a baseball franchise is increasingly tied up in the real estate possibilities around each ballpark.

While the Atlanta Braves are not playing in the World Series this year, I did have the opportunity last week to check out The Battery at Truist Park – which is perhaps the development more than any other that has sparked this gold rush on new stadium deals. Truist Park is a pioneering project, not because of its on-field dimensions or sightlines from the upper deck, but because it is the one of the first “ballpark villages” – taking the idea of a live, work, play development to another level. In addition to the ballpark, the adjacent land is home to a hotel, Comcast offices, over 500 apartment units, and plenty of retail and dining establishments. And the boom is just getting started!

One might wonder what people would do around a baseball stadium on the 284 days there isn’t a game being played each year. While there was no baseball on tap on the Thursday afternoon I was there, the restaurants were packed with local office workers and ICSC Southeast convention goers. Most importantly, pedestrian bridges linked the ballpark to nearby malls, office buildings and the Cobb Galleria convention center providing connectivity to an area that would otherwise be difficult to access even in the offseason.

It's easy to see why sports team owners would want a year round revenue stream to go with the prestige of owning a valuable local cultural asset, however taxpayers are often sold on the idea that having residents and businesses paying sales and property taxes in these districts can help offset the soaring costs of building a new facility.

So far, the results on Atlanta’s experiment may be aesthetically pleasing but the economic story is a bit more muted largely because tax dollars allocated to “pay off” the stadium are largely being redirected from other sources such as education and public transit that can have longer lasting impacts on a community, while sales tax dollars from restaurants and retail merely get shifted from other neighborhoods and businesses.

It seems as long as Americans value professional sports as a common ground in an increasingly divided culture, our local leaders will likely continue to foot much of the bill to fund these mega-projects and maybe that’s reason enough to ignore the impact to the bottom line. However, as more of these projects get proposed over the next decade, citizens would do well to hone in on the details to ensure taxpayers don’t keep getting the short end of the stick.

Mike Jordan
Listen to the Song of the Month
While Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour may be the hottest concert film of this decade, it was Talking Heads’ 1984 film Stop Making Sense that did more to turn the idea of filming a concert into a work of art capable of standing on its own in a movie theater. Jonathan Demme’s film was remastered and re-released in theaters earlier this year, giving a new generation a chance to experience this “once in a lifetime” event on the big screen. And you may ask yourself, what did this movie look like? Click here to see David Byrne & company perform one of my favorite songs of all time!

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