Retail Sector Update 11/19/2015

"Innovative, Interactive Retail with ShopWithMe"

ShopWithMe, a smart, interactive retail store that looks to change the retail industry in the future is a concept new to the industry. Its first store, located in Chicago, opened this month selling TOMS Shoes and Raven + Lily products. The “smart store” is made to combine online and offline shopping in one store. Some of the store’s innovative, personalized creations include changing rooms with interactive mirror displays and the option to have different products brought to the changing room without having to leave the room. With the store’s high tech model, it can change sellers in only days, allowing stores that want to move from city to city to easily do so without having to build out new spaces. With this model, ShopWithMe aims to build a chain of stores all over the world, so that their retailers can hop from city to city throughout the year. Additionally, the store will further personalize shoppers’ experiences by recommending products based on browsing history. With retailers struggling to retain customers and meet their needs, ShopWithMe provides an innovative solution.

"Walgreens and Rite Aid Merger"

The boards of directors at two of the drug store industry giants, Walgreens and Rite Aid, have agreed to a merger in which Walgreens would acquire Rite Aid for $17.2 billion. Walgreens currently operates 8,200 stores and Rite Aid operates 46,000. If the deal passes federal anti-trust regulation, there will be significant consolidation of space – meaning Walgreens will need to close stores that are at risk of competing with nearby stores. Additionally, to overcome the anti-trust laws, Walgreens will likely have to sell off a number of stores to avoid having a monopoly, as the drugstore industry would be dominated by Walgreens and its competitor, CVS. Neither Walgreens nor Rite Aid have had substantial new development of stores in the past several years; however, there has been no shortage of drug store products. With cap rates at their lowest points since the beginning of the recession, many investors are selling off their investment properties to take advantage of record high prices. The supply of drug store property has risen by over 20 percent, allowing Walgreens to close suboptimally located stores and redevelop them on major corners. Finally, with Walgreens credit behind the Rite Aid stores, Rite Aid’s cap rate will drop to match Walgreens’, making all of the top drug store companies investment grade, which will increase demand for the drug store’s real estate.