retail news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  Spectrum News 1 reports that while the pandemic has accelerated the decline of numerous bricks-and-mortar retail chains and the malls in which they were housed, the federal government believes that there could be an upside - the conversion of at least 10 percent of that vacant space into badly needed affordable housing.

According to the story, "So-called adaptive reuse has been happening in Los Angeles since 1999, when the city enacted an ordinance that allowed vacant banks and other historic buildings downtown to be converted into housing. But with more consumers shifting their shopping from brick-and-mortar to online stores, and many workers now telecommuting, the city plans to earmark more types of buildings for residential conversions.

"It couldn’t be happening at a better time. Nationally, about 25,000 stores could close this year because of the pandemic, according to the retail analytics firm Coresight Research. That’s coinciding with a growing need for more affordable housing. The Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing estimates there is a current shortage of 551,807 rental homes for households earning less than $41,500 in L.A. County."

•  From CNN:

"Lord & Taylor, the first department store established in the United States, is officially going out of business, ending a nearly 200-year run.

"The bankrupt company announced Thursday that all of its 38 remaining stores and website have begun liquidation sales — a reversal from last week's decision to keep 14 locations open … Lord & Taylor filed for bankruptcy on August 2, joining a string of upscale retailers filing for Chapter 11 in recent months. It initially announced 19 stores were closing, then increased that number to 24 a few weeks later. Now every store will close for good."

Lord & Taylor over the years has had ownership rooted in both the retail and private equity worlds, and in 2019 was sold to Le Tote, Inc., "a fashion rental subscription service, for $75 million," CNN writes.  "Le Tote tried reviving the brand with a pop-up store in New York City and remodeling its remaining stores with a focus on technology."

Too little, too late?

•  Women's Wear Daily reports that France-based retailer Carrefour has reached an agreement to acquire Span's Supersol chain.

According to the announcement, "The transaction involves 172 convenience stores and supermarkets, located mainly in Andalusia and the Madrid region. The enterprise value of the transaction is 78 million euros($93 million US). The acquired stores posted net sales of around 450 million euros ($536 million US) in 2019."

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval, with the two parties expecting it to close early next year.

•  USA Today reports that "Starbucks employees will not have to choose between working their shift or voting on or before Election Day as the company looks to increase vote participation.

"Starbucks unveiled a plan on Thursday to support employees' and customers' ability to vote. 

"'Through conversations between managers and nearly 200,000 partners, we’ll ensure you have the tools and the time necessary to register and cast your vote,' Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said in a statement."

If recent history is any indicator, there will be a bunch of retailers that will either close for Election Day or guarantee workers time off to vote this year.