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Refreshing Retail - Issue #2

December 2022
Mike Jordan, Big V Property Group Director of Research

Inflation Moderates in November, But Still Near 40-Year Highs

  • Prices are up 7.1% vs. last year, with core CPI (ex. Food & energy prices) up 6.0%
  • This is down from the peak inflation that topped 8% in late summer
  • However, inflation is not evenly distributed and groceries remain up over 10% vs. last year
    Article:

Fed Raises Interest Rates by 0.5%

  • Prices are up 7.1% vs. last year, with core CPI (ex. Food & energy prices) up 6.0%
  • This is down from the peak inflation that topped 8% in late summer
  • However, inflation is not evenly distributed and groceries remain up over 10% vs. last year
    Article:

Super Saturday to Draw 158MM Shoppers

  • The National Retail Federation is expecting nearly 160 million shoppers to pack stores on December 17th aka “Super Saturday”
  • Clothing, toys, gift cards, books, and food lead the list for those who’ve been nice this year
  • Shoppers have been holding out longer hoping to take advantage of last-minute promotions
    Article:
Sources: Retail Dive, Chain Store Age
Amazon confirmed that it’s testing select Staples stores as in-person drop off locations for product returns. Amazon currently offers free returns at all Whole Foods, Amazon Fresh, UPS, and Kohl’s stores
Costco plans to open a total of 24 new stores in its current fiscal year, including 15 in the U.S. The chain’s nine international openings include its third and fourth clubs in China.
McDonald's has entered into an agreement to cover 100% of its U.S. logistics supply chain’s electricity load with renewable energy. The company and its supply chain partners will purchase renewable energy and the associated renewable energy certificates (RECs) from Enel Green Power's Blue Jay solar project in Grimes County, Texas which will be fully operational by 2023.
Meijer is the first retailer to run all-electric semitrucks in a cold weather environment. The company, which operates one of the largest fleets in Michigan will be tracking the performance of the semitrucks (Freightliner eCascadia) in a cold weather environment as part of a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Nordstrom Rack is slowing use of in-store fulfillment to simplify operations and reduce the number of order cancellations. The retailer will also raise the minimum order amount to receive free ship-to-store delivery. As a result of this change, digital sales declined 16% in the most recent quarter.
Party City has reopened talks with creditors to address its liquidity needs. The company has over $1.7 billion in debt with just $121 million in liquidity, down from $355 million at this time last year.
Walmart is moving forward with previously announced plans to provide automated drone delivery to 34 sites across the U.S. The move is the next step after testing the program at three stores in Northwest Arkansas. Walmart is now providing the service at select stores in Arizona, Florida and Texas, with plans to add the service in Virginia and Utah before the end of the year.

They have also launched a free Text to Shop functionality for iOS and Android users. Connected to a user’s Walmart account, the Text to Shop function knows what a customer’s usual items are. Shoppers can text the name of a general item — such as “cereal” — and the retailer will add the brand and type typically ordered to the user’s cart, allowing shoppers to swap it, change the quantity or remove it. Customers can also use the feature to schedule a pickup time at their local store
The big winner in this inflationary environment? Dollar stores. Find out more about how these recession-proof retailers are serving the essential needs of consumers in this article from QZ 
Amazon has dominated headlines for over two decades as retail’s primary disruptor, but now that the company’s growth begins to slow and competitors have caught up, the e-commerce giant is facing new challenges. Retail Dive goes in depth in this story by Daphne Howland
The Wall Street Journal’s Alina Dizik looks at how trendy urban eateries are popping up all over America’s suburbs as post-pandemic population shifts have increasingly favored the ‘burbs. 
Video of the week: Italians are known as perhaps the most coffee-obsessed culture in Europe, so its no surprise that when Starbucks came to the peninsula, many Italians were reluctant to give the ubiquitoud American chain a try (even as Starbucks is modeled after Italian coffeehouse culture). 
Watch Now >>
As we cruise into this home stretch of the Holiday season, shoppers have been keeping our assets bustling. On Monday, I had the pleasure of meeting with Stephanie and Roxanne at The Avenue in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. While some lifestyle centers have struggled to keep or find high quality tenants, The Avenue looks as vibrant and healthy today as when it first opened. In addition to lifestyle staples like Children’s Place and Talbots, the center has been kept vital with newer market entrants like Buff City Soap, Offline by Aerie, and the soon to open Dry Goods. Meanwhile, the center has a local flair with great looking stores like Palmetto Moon, and Dorkside Toys. Even Dollar General’s discount PopShelf concept fits in nicely in this high-end tenant mix with its sleek design and unique merchandising.

Perhaps most surprising was that for 11:00AM on Monday, the parking lot at the Avenue was nearly full. Along with our whimsical Holiday decorations and festive music, the atmosphere felt like a pre-2020 Christmas. Shopping centers must remain relevant as consumers tastes, habits, and lifestyles change which involves finding the right balance of goods, services, and dining options and then managing to keep that mix fresh over time.

As you finish up your shopping this year, look around in the malls and plazas where you shop and see how other assets measure up. Chances are your experience will be better if the center you frequent is managed by a best-in-class team like the one we have in Murfreesboro.

Some people might call Fabrizio de Andre Italy’s answer to Bob Dylan, but I think the Italians would probably consider Dylan the American de Andre! Pour yourself an espresso and enjoy Faber’s 1990 classic ode to coffee “Don Raffae”.

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