Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Any Takers for Toys R Us Space Yet?

It seems that, on an annual basis, we see another national big box chain fall to online competition, high debt, and, in some cases, mismanagement. Go back a decade or more and the list becomes extensive: Circuit City, Linens ‘N Things, Borders, Comp USA, Mervyn’s, Bombay, Filene’s Basement, Sports Authority, Mill Stores, Building 19…have we missed any? This means that every year the real estate industry is searching for replacements, sometimes successfully – and other times not.

The latest liquidation casualty is Toys R Us. Along with Babies R Us stores, this chain vacated 30 stores and more than 1.0 million square feet of retail space across the three regions covered by KeyPoint Partners’  proprietary GRIID: Eastern Massachusetts/Greater Boston, Southern New Hampshire, and Greater Hartford.

Needless to say, this was a severe blow to the entire toy industry. Some of the retailers who have already benefited from the fallout should be obvious: Walmart, Target, and Amazon picked up much of the business. But others such as Michael’s, Costco, Party City, Kohl’s, JCPenney and Five Below are also taking advantage of the toy expenditures that became available following the liquidation. The result, as reported by NPD Group, was that toy manufacturers experienced a drop in revenue of only 3.4% since that time.  However, while the toy industry may have survived the fallout, Toys R Us landlords are again left scrambling to fill the space. So how are they doing so far?

Property owners have found replacements for 13 of the 30 vacancies to date. The first replacement stores to open back in August were Pottery Barn Warehouse Outlet at Northborough Crossing in Northborough, which filled the Toys R Us box, and Raymour & Flanigan at Shoppes at Blackstone Valley in Millbury, taking the former Babies R Us.

Two retailers have acquired multiple units left behind by Toys R Us. PGA Tour Superstore opened its first Boston area store in February in the vacant Toys R Us store at Northshore Mall in Peabody, MA and also acquired the Babies R Us store in Braintree at the Marketplace at Braintree, MA, scheduled to open in June. Ocean State Job Lot acquired three former Toys R Us stores, the first of which opened this month in the Salem, NH store. Another April opening is scheduled for later this month at the former Toys R Us in Campanelli Park in Brockton, immediately north of Westgate Mall. The third unit should open later this year at Town Center West in North Dartmouth.

Gardner Outlet Furniture, which operates its original store in Gardner, added a second location in March, taking the former Toys R Us unit at The Mall at Whitney Field in Leominster, MA. Woburn, MA recently approved permits to allow Launch Trampoline Park to move into the Toys R Us unit at Horn Pond Plaza where Whole Foods is an anchor. Woburn will be the fifth location in Massachusetts for Launch, expected to open later this year. Similarly, Edge Fitness will occupy the Toys R Us space in West Hartford, CT at Corbin’s Corner by year-end. Sullivan Brothers Toyota Nissan acquired the Toys R Us store in Kingston, MA, located opposite its existing location which it plans to expand. At this time, the only other Toys R Us store that appears to have found a replacement is the Dedham Mall unit in Dedham, MA. Although there is no tenant announced, Wilder is indicating that a deal is pending for the store, located adjacent to the new At Home store, which recently filled a portion of the vacant Sears.

This leaves 17 Toys R Us boxes still vacant, although among those are many quality locations which should find prospects soon enough. Some of the stronger shopping center locations include Shoppers World in Framingham, where both Toys and Babies remain idle; Gateway Center in Everett; The Manchester Collection and Plaza at Buckland Hills, both in Manchester, CT; Webster Square and Nashua Mall, both in Nashua, NH, and others. We’ll be tracking these vacancies and will let you know about them in our upcoming 2019 KeyPoint Reports, which should be rolling out over the summer months.

Stay tuned!
Bob Sheehan, VP of Research,

KeyPoint Partners Company News

Team News: Antonia Rivas has joined the Lake Success, NY office as an Administrative Assistant. APM Colleen Greiner (Plymouth, MA office) has earned the ICSC Certified Retail Real Estate Professional (CRRP) credential.

National Retail News

US retail sales fell in February, as consumers pulled back spending on building materials, groceries, furniture, electronics and clothing. The Commerce Department said retail sales fell 0.2% in February, after posting an upwardly revised gain 0.7% in January. Sales of building materials plunged 4.4%. Electronics retailers and grocers posted declines of more than 1%. Non-store retailers, a category that includes online shopping, enjoyed gains of 0.9% in February. See sales reports below...DSW is changing its corporate name to Designer Brands Inc., effective immediately. It also is changing its ticker symbol on the New York Stock Exchange to DBI from DSW, with an effective date of April 2, 2019. The nameplate on DSW stores will remain.

Accelerating Retail News

Custom framing company Framebridge opened its first brick-and-mortar store on 14th Street in Washington, DC. The company plans a second location in Bethesda, MD…Fast-casual eatery I Heart Mac & Cheese has signed an agreement with franchise group Manor 3 to open 23 locations across Long Island, NY. 3 will open this year…Ikea’s first NYC store will open on April 15, the first US location is a retail experiment called the Ikea Planning Studio. Unlike Ikea’s Red Hook and Elizabeth, NJ stores, the Ikea Planning Studio will not be a full buy-and-carry operation. Instead, it will allow customers to peruse and order products that will then be delivered to their homes at an additional cost…Massage Envy has signed a deal with Novarus Wellness Concepts to add 70 new franchised locations to its portfolio over the next 5 years in the Rocky Mountain and Great Plains states…Wegmans plans to open 17 new stores, the first 3 in 2019 in VA, NC, and Brooklyn, NY. The remaining locations are scattered up the East Coast and into the South…Lands’ End  will open a store in Pittsburgh this month, one of 10 to 15 locations the company expects to open in its current fiscal year. The company ended its fiscal year with 16 freestanding stores…At Home opened 3 new stores in February including its first store in WI, bringing its nationwide store count to 183 as of March, part of a multi-year plan for 600-plus stores…Comcast is opening 9 new Xfinity retail stores across Atlanta in 2019, bringing its total Atlanta stores to 18....Ollie’s Bargain Outlet opened 35 net new stores during 2018 and entered the new states of Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas. It has opened 12 new stores already in 2019, including 7 former Toys “R” Us locations. In 2019, the chain plans to add 42 to 44 new stores and add 2 new states, Oklahoma and Massachusetts...Five Below will open 145 to 150 stores in fiscal 2019, up from 125 new locations last year. Five Below has 750 stores in 33 states…Stage Stores is moving faster on its strategy to convert stores to the off-price Gordmans format. The company is planning 35 second quarter conversions. An additional 10 to 15 stores will be converting in the third quarter. Stage Stores operates 688 stores in 42 states under the Bealls, Goody’s, Palais Royal, Peebles and Stage nameplates as well as 105 Gordmans stores...Godiva opened its first US cafĂ© this month, a 1,200 s/f store on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan...Sears will open three Sears Home & Life stores in May, in Alaska, Louisiana, and Kansas. These shops will be approximately 15,000 s/f…Duluth Trading Co. opened a retail store this month in Spokane Valley, the company’s first in Washington and its 50th US location. Duluth will open 15 stores in fiscal 2019…Sprouts Farmers Market will open 13 stores during the second half of 2019. By the end of the year, Sprouts will operate 340 stores in 22 states...Giant Food Stores  opened 6 new stores in 4 states, growing its total store count to 178. 5 of the stores, former Shop ‘n Save locations acquired earlier this year, are branded Martin’s Food Markets and are in Maryland; Pennsylvania; Virginia; and West Virginia; In addition, Giant constructed a new store in Warrington, PA... Levi Strauss plans to open 100 new stores over the next year. Levi’s runs more than 800 stores around the world today…Macy’s will add 1,500 s/f Story shops to 36 Macy’s stores across the country, including at its Herald Square flagship... MTY Group, owner of Cold Stone Creamery, Pinkberry and dozens of other brands, will acquire Papa Murphy’s Holdings. Papa Murphy’s operates more than 1,300 locations. Once the purchase is complete MTY will have 7,400 locations globally... Bed Bath & Beyond will open approximately 15 new stores and close approximately 40 stores in fiscal 2019. The company has more than 1,500 stores...BoConcept opened its second Washington DC-area store this month. The 4,500 s/f showroom in Tyson’s Galleria is part of a larger expansion at the mall as well as a rebooted expansion of the BoConcept brand in North America via franchisees opening multiple locations.

Decelerating Retail News

Hibbett Sports will close 95 stores in its current fiscal year, while opening 10 to 15 Hibbett and City Gear stores. Hibbett acquired the 135-store City Gear chain in October. The company had a total of 1,163 stores in 35 states as of February…LifeWay Christian Resources will close all 170 of its brick-and-mortar stores of their stores by the end of the year to focus on digital sales…Ascena Retail Group has signed an agreement to sell a majority interest in its 943-store Maurices division to an affiliate of OpCapita LLP for about $300 million…DXL will close its 5 remaining Rochester Clothing stores in fiscal 2019. DXL acquired the upscale brand in 2014. In 2019, the company will continue to convert its remaining Casual Male stores to the DX banner. It will rebrand 13 of the remaining 95 Casual Male locations in 2019, with a total 60 to be converted during the next several years…Walmart is closing at least 8 US stores across 8 states. Walmart said it plans to open fewer than 10 new stores over the next year.  Walmart has more than 4,700 US stores, including 3,570 Supercenters and nearly 700 Neighborhood Markets... J.C. Penney will close 9 home and furniture stores this fall in addition to the 18 stores previously slated for shutdown...Fred’s Inc. will close 159 stores by the end of May, with the liquidation sales starting on April 11. Fred’s has partnered with Malfitano Advisors and SB360 Capital Partners to manage the closings, which will leave the retailer with 398 locations.

New England Retail News

Sustainable sneakers company Allbirds opened its first Boston retail store on Newbury Street last month. The brand launched in 2016 as an online-only retailer but has since expanded to physical stores in New York, San Francisco and London...23 Friendy’s restaurants have closed, including three in MA. 14 restaurants in upstate New York, 3 in CT, 2 in NH and 1 in ME are also being shuttered in the latest round of closures. Friendly’s now has 77 corporate-owned and 97 franchisee-owned restaurants. When the chain emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2012, it had 254 restaurants…Launch Trampoline Park will join Fit Factory to fill the vacant Toys R Us at Horn Pond Plaza, Woburn, MA... Soft Surroundings is adding a second CT store next month at Danbury Fair. The company has more than 75 locations

Mall News

Stew Leonard’s is set to expand beyond its current two-state footprint with its first supermarket in New Jersey. The CT-based chain will open an 80,000-square-foot store in Paramus, occupying the site of a former Sears department store, the grocer’s first mall location. Currently, Stew Leonard’s operates 6 supermarkets in CT and 2 in NY…Simon announced the opening of 7 more Untuckit stores in malls throughout the US. Untuckit currently operates more than 50 physical retail locations across the US and Canada...Signet Jewelers, which operates approximately 3,300 stores under the brands Kay Jewelers, Zales, Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry, and Piercing Pagoda, will close another 150 stores in the fiscal year. Last fiscal year, the company closed 262 stores.


Notes: figures gathered from individual company websites, press releases, and Federal filings.  Not all companies report all figures; results not reported will be marked “n/r”. Quarterly results will be updated when available; quarterly figures are shown in italics. Figures from companies not calculated to one decimal point automatically received an ending digit of 0. 


US retail sales fell 0.2% in February, the Commerce Department said, after posting an upwardly revised gain 0.7% in January.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce -


Treasury Yield Sources:;


The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® declined in March, after increasing in February. The Index now stands at 124.1 (1985=100), down from 131.4 in February.

Source: The Conference Board -


Manufacturing expanded in March, as the PMI® registered 55.3 percent, an increase of 1.1 percentage points from the February reading of 54.2 percent. A reading above 50 percent indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50 percent indicates that it is generally contracting.

Source: Institute for Supply Management - Manufacturing Report on Business -