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Mortgage expert: Look to unsexy cities for retail growth

BY Al Urbanski

Retailers and developers looking for potential expansion spots in the coming year should bypass Gotham and head to Grand Rapids.

That’s the prescription of mortgage note buyer Abby Shemesh, who spots hot locales and neighborhoods by the number of mortgage applications filed by individuals there. “If you see a lot of loan applications from people and not investors, you can be sure you’re going to have steady growth in that area,” says the CEO of San Francisco-based Amerinote Exchange. “Grand Rapids is a great example. There’s a lot of job growth there.”

Shemesh says retailers and shopping center developers need to divert their attention away from “sexy” cities like New York, San Francisco, and Austin and seek out towns like Omaha and Ann Arbor that new millennial home buyers are making sexy.

“More millennials will purchase homes in 2017, and they’re going to be leaving populated urban areas and moving to less populated urban areas where they can find jobs,” Shemesh said. Once there, he maintained, they will begin creating or demanding the citified food, beverage, and retail amenities they’ve become used to.

Demand for such services will also increase in the South and Southwest as Baby Boomers continue their migration to warmer climes. “I’m betting on the Carolinas for growth, towns like Charlotte and Charleston,” Shemesh said.


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Walgreens Q1 profit tops as it moves toward closing Rite Aid deal

BY Michael Johnsen

Walgreens Boots Alliance on Thursday reported a better-than-expected profit for its first quarter and also said an announcement that it has closed the deal on its proposed acquisition of Rite Aid would come soon.

Walgreens confirmed it is actively engaged in discussions with the Federal Trade Commission regarding its pending Rite Aid acquisition, which was announced more than 14 months ago. Also subject to FTC approval is the sale of 865 Rite Aid locations to Fred's for almost $1 billion.

"The company is working toward a close of the acquisition in the early part of this calendar year," Walgreens stated.

Walgreens net income fell to $1.1 billion, or 97 cents per share, in the first quarter ended Nov. 30, from $1.11 billion, or $1.01 per share, in the year ago period.

Walgreens’ Retail Pharmacy USA division posted first quarter sales of $20.7 billion, up 1.4%. Same-store sales 1.1%. Pharmacy sales, which accounted for 69.1% of the division’s sales in the quarter, increased 2.5% compared with the year-ago quarter. Comparable pharmacy sales increased 2%.

“Overall we are pleased with the progress this quarter, with results in line with our expectations," announced Stefano Pessina, Walgreens Boots Alliance executive vice chairman and CEO. "We continue to anticipate that growth in the second half of fiscal 2017 will reflect the new strategic pharmacy partnerships we announced last year. As a result, we have raised the lower end of our fiscal year guidance by 5 cents per share.”

Since the end of the first quarter, the company has completed the first phase of the rollout of its new, differentiated beauty offering in more than 1,800 stores.

Walgreens Boots Alliance's international division had first quarter sales of $3 billion, a decrease of 14.4% from the year-ago quarter due to the negative impact of currency translation. Sales increased 0.5% on a constant currency basis.

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Gymboree transitions to mobile POS

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

As it creates new brick-and-mortar formats, Gymboree went in search of a flexible point-of-sale system. Now it has one.

The children’s specialty chain added a mobile POS system from Aptos — a move that enables store associates to engage shoppers throughout their store visit. Associates use the mobile devices to process secure transactions, manage inventory, and access order information — without ever leaving the customer’s side.

The chain will also use Aptos Enterprise Order Management, which will integrate with Aptos Store, to deliver a complete view of inventory, orders and more across sales channels. The order management solution also integrates with Gymboree’s existing e-commerce platform, allowing the chain to manage all orders throughout their lifecycle, from initiation to fulfillment and back, the company said.

“Aptos Store and Enterprise Order Management will give Gymboree a next-generation customer engagement platform to deliver a unified shopping experience that transcends channels,” said David Sondergeld, VP of IT and CIO at Gymboree. “The ability to bring an ‘endless aisle’ to our customers will ensure we never lose the opportunity to serve them and earn their loyalty.”

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