In today’s top retail news, Philadelphia Real Estate Trust reopens its newest property, Ralph Lauren cuts its workforce and Mall of America offers space to local businesses.
While other real estate investment trusts (REITs) have been trying to save tenants, Philadelphia Real Estate Trust (PREIT) has been focusing on experiential retailing and attracting smaller-sized companies. For example, its newest property, the Fashion District, near downtown Philadelphia, has reopened with two new tenants: Industrious, a “luxury” coworking space, and Francesca’s, a boutique-style women’s apparel shop. Before the pandemic, the Fashion District was on its way to a stellar first year, with art installations, outdoor fitness classes and foot traffic in excess of 700,000 shoppers a month. Now, as the region comes out of the first and hopefully the only wave of the pandemic, the Fashion District is 74 percent full – and PREIT CEO Joe Coradino told PYMNTS that tenant relationships are the key to getting to the other side of the crisis.
The combined dynamics of the digital shift and the pandemic have caught up to Ralph Lauren. Tuesday morning (Sept. 22) the company announced steps to cut its workforce and accelerate its digital transformation. While it did not announce the number of employees who will be affected by the move, the company has positioned today’s announcement as part of its “Next Great Chapter” plan outlined two years ago. The announcement, coupled with a financial savings commitment, adds urgency to the plan rather than adding detail to its execution. The transformation plan, according to the company, aims to attract younger consumers, drive targeted expansion, lead with digital and operate more efficiently.
To help local businesses encountering difficulty because of the coronavirus or civil unrest, the Mall of America is contributing a 5,000-square-foot retail space to local businesses called the Community Commons. The space will be rent-free to 17 companies, opening Oct. 1 and will stay in operation up to next spring on Level Two on the south side of the mall, KARE 11 reported. The companies encompassed in the effort provide a host of merchandise ranging from food and beverage to clothing. Some of the businesses included are Heritage Tea & Beverages, Belle & Virtue Collection and Herbal Alchemy. Additionally, the space will showcase the artistry of Juxtaposition Arts, an art center staffed by teens in North Minneapolis.
Walmart on Tuesday (Sept. 22) announced it has begun testing the use of drones to deliver COVID-19 test kits in North Las Vegas, with plans to expand the pilot program to Cheektowaga, N.Y. in early October. Walmart is teaming up on the effort with Quest Diagnostics and DroneUp, a nationwide drone services provider, Tom Ward, senior vice president for customer product, wrote in an announcement posted on the retail giant’s website. One aim, according to Walmart, is to test out a contactless way to get COVID-19 self-collection test kits to patients at a time when social distancing is crucial to checking the spread of the pandemic.
Consumer packaged goods (CPG) are capturing the digital shift in a dramatic way during the pandemic. The shift has been so dramatic that IRI, the go-to sales tracking resource for the CPG business, this week added two new reports to its roster specifically aimed at eCommerce sales. The eCommerce Channel Shift Index and eCommerce Demand Index have both been added to measure what had been a rounding error up until the pandemic. IRI has found that total eCommerce demand has significantly outpaced all other channels since COVID-19, and for June is up 86 percent compared to June 2019. By way of comparison, spending at brick-and-mortar drugstores was down 5 percent and total trips across CPG outlets were down 3 percent compared to the year-ago period during the week ending Aug. 30, despite the eCommerce channel being up 91 percent.