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September/October 2022 The New Mall Construction Costs Update Retailers Embrace Machine Learning U.S. RETAILERS TOP
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from the editor’s desk

tech viewpoint: a retail tech column


18 20 21

Bonus programs for lighting rebates at record high

Aldi’s carbon reduction strategy includes phasing out harmful refrigerants.

Update on construction costs finds most costs still rising.

Vendor Q&A: ZipWall Dust Barrier System’s Jeff Whittemore discusses how retailers can safety keep stores open during remodel and renovation activities.

Shop Talk highlights include new Express Edit format and Nike’s newest retail concept.


Walmart and Amazon take the top spots in Chain Store Age’s annual ranking of the 100 U.S. retailers based on annual revenue.

CSA (USPS 054-410; ISSN 0193-1199), is published bimonthly by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631, on a controlled basis to qualified retailer titles and architects. Real estate and shopping center owners and developers $75 per year. All other non-qualified in the United States: $80 one year; $155 two year; $14 single issue copy; Canada and Mexico: $105 one year; $185 two year; $16 single issue copy; Foreign: $115 one year; $215 two year; $16 single issue copy. Digital edition subscription: $55 one year digital; $105 two year digital. Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, IL and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to CSA, Circulation Fulfillment Director, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Subscription changes may also be emailed to contact@chainstoreage.com, or call 1-877-687-7321. Vol. 97, No. 5, September/October 2022. Copyright ©2022 by EnsembleIQ. All rights reserved.


How Malls Will Survive

CEOs from the nation’s most successful owner-operators of enclosed shopping centers tell what they must do—and must not do—to keep malls in the mainstream of a fast-changing consumer culture.

how machine
can benefit retailers 25
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Store Expansion Ramps Up — in some sectors

The tide has turned when it comes to store openings versus closings.

As of August, U.S. retailers had an nounced 4,432 store openings and 1,954 store closings, resulting in a net of 2,478 openings, according to a recent report from BDO. That’s the largest number of openings in the past five years. (The report cited store data from Coresight Research.)

From 2017 to 2020, annual store clo sures exceeded store openings. The trend intensified in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, sending the most dis tressed retailers into bankruptcy. At the same time, many stable retailers sought to right-size their footprint in the wake of economic uncertainty and evolving consumer behaviors. But things started to turn around last year, BDO noted, as store openings exceeded closings for the first time since 2016.

That’s not to say that store expansion is spread out across all sectors of the indus try. The majority of 2022 store openings have been in the discount, dollar and off-price retail segments. (Fast-casual restaurant growth also remains bullish.)

Dollar General and Family Dollar both have extremely aggressive expansion plans. Tween and teen favorite Five Below is on track to open 160 stores this year, with plans to add another 200-plus loca tions in 2023. TJX Cos. and Ross Stores, along with discount grocers Aldi and Lidl, continue to grow their brick-andmortar footprints. And Nike is planning to open 150 to 200 smaller-footprint U.S. outposts.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are luxury retailers, which are ramping up

their expansion in the United States, ac cording to JLL’s recent report, “For the love of luxury: The Renaissance of Luxury Retail in the United States.”

“With both sales and foot traffic re turning to pre-pandemic levels, luxury retailers are focusing their energy and new capital on their bread and butter: physical storefronts,” the report said.

When deciding where to open stores in the U.S., luxury brands are still large ly targeting the large urban markets that have long made up the bulk of their business here, but they are expanding their horizons to “ancillary corridors” in those cities, such as the Gold Coast in Chicago, and Williamsburg in New York City, JLL said. They are also set ting their sights on smaller but growing markets such as Austin, Texas, and Nashville, Tenn.

The data supports the growth. Luxury sales in the U.S. rose by 8.5% in 2021 to more than $64.1 billion and are forecast to eclipse pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022.

High-end European legacy brands such as Chanel, Gucci, Hermès and Dior are leading much of the recent growth. But American companies are also getting in the act. Ralph Lauren Corp. plans to open about 250 stores during the next three years as it contin ues to emphasize its direct-to-consum er business.

Of the 30 markets the company has marked for expansion, 14 are in North America. At its Investor Day meeting, Bob Ranftl, regional CEO of North America, said that Ralph Lauren is still “significantly underpenetrated in many cities in North America.”

Most luxury brands are bullish on expansion — and with good reason. Despite potential headwinds from inflation, the luxury retail industry in the United States is poised for further growth, with forecasts estimating nearly $80 billion in sales by 2025, according to JLL.

Marianne Wilson mwilson@chainstoreage.com


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Annual ranking of nation’s largest retailers by revenue

Despite supply chain pressures, lingering pandemic disruptions, shifts in consumer behavior, rising prices and labor problems, the U.S. retail industry continues to prove its resilience, as is made clear in Chain Store Age’s annual ranking of the top 100 U.S. retailers. The list is a guide to the 100 largest retailers based on net revenue for their most recently completed fiscal year (for most companies, this translates to 2021). Apart from a few exceptions due mainly to mergers/acquisitions and bankruptcies, the retailers that make up the top 100 have remained very consistent in recent years. One thing that has changed: The point of entry onto this year’s list was, for the first time, $5 billion in annual sales.

Walmart: As it has for the past 20-plus years, Walmart took the No.1 spot on the CSA list. The retail giant, which is also the nation’s largest private employer, saw its fiscal 2022 revenue (for the year ended 1/31/2022) rise 2.4% to $572.75 billion. Net sales at Walmart U.S. climbed 6.3%.

In addition to ongoing investments in technology and omnichannel capabilities, Walmart’s investments during its last fiscal year ranged from chartering ships to raising employee wages multiple times to developing alternative streams of revenue, such as its delivery-as-a-service platform, Walmart GoLocal.

The company also has big plans for its Walmart Connect retail media business, which generated $2.1 billion in sales in 2022, with a goal of it eventually becoming a top 10 advertising platform. For the time being, Walmart’s ad business is still outdistanced by rival Amazon, which generated $31 billion in ad revenue in 2021.

Amazon ranked No. 2 on the list for the sixth consecutive year, but it is inching

closer to the top spot. A recent report from Edge by Ascential forecasts that the top three retailers in the United States by 2026 will be Amazon, Walmart and Costco, with 14.9%, 12.7% and 4.4% of the retailer market share, respectively. The Home Depot and The Kroger Co. round out the top five.

Amazon’s total revenue grew by 22% to $469. 8 billion in 2021 as it continued to build out its sprawling fulfillment network and and expand its physical store footprint, with an emphasis on its “Just Walk Out” system. The company’s cloud-computing business, Amazon Web Services, continued to generate strong results amid a steady stream of new customers, with revenue of $62.2 billion.

Diversify: Diversification has become a common theme among many of the top retailers as companies seek revenue streams outside of their core business. Four of the top 10 companies have made significant investments in health care during the past couple of years.

The deep dive into health care shows no signs of slowing down. In September, Walmart announced a 10-year partnership with UnitedHealth Group to, among other things, offer

About the Rankings

virtual health care services, starting with seniors. As for Amazon, it entered into an agreement in July to acquire One Medical, a membership-based primary health care provider, for $3.9 billion.

Meanwhile, the nation’s two largest pharmacy chains also continue to expand beyond their retail roots. CVS Health is planning to acquire health-care company Signify Health in a deal valued at at about $8 billion.

Rival Walgreens has become the majority owner of VillageMD, and plans to open hundreds of primary care Village Medical practices at Walgreen locations. The company recently announced it is buying the remaining 30% stake in specialty pharmacy company Shields Health Solutions that it doesn’t already own for an estimated $1.37 billion.

The overall retail industry has emerged remarkably healthy two-and-a-half years after the pandemic, one of the most disruptive and challenging events in world history — one that forced retailers to reexamine and, and in some cases, reinvent strategies, formats and ways of doing business that had been standard practice for years.

For the top 100 retailers, innovation has become table stakes in meeting the challenge of a transformed retail landscape.

Chain Store Age’s Top 100 ranks retail companies by net revenues in the firm’s most recently completed fiscal year (as of press time.)

For retailers based in North America, the data reflects the company’s total global store count (except as otherwise noted). For foreign-based companies, such as Ikea, only the figures related to the company’s North American division are provided (except as otherwise noted.)

The ranking contains a number of privately owned companies that do not release annual reports, financial statements or basic details related to their operations. The metrics for these companies, which are highlighted in the listing with an E, are based on public and private reports and independent research (compiled by contributing editor Debra Hazel.) For foreign companies, the currency was exchanged into U.S. dollars as of the last date of the fiscal year.


2021 Revenue [000] Fiscal Yearend

2020 Revenue [000] 2021 Store Count 2020 Store Count

Walmart Inc. Bentonville, Ark. 1/31/2022 572,754,000 559,151,000 10,593 11,443

Amazon Seattle 12/31/2021 469,822,000 386,064,000 679 618

CVS Health Corp. Woonsocket, R.I. 12/31/2021 292,111,000 268,706,000 9,939 9,962

Costco Wholesale Corp. Issaquah, Wash. 8/29/2021 192,052,000 163,220,000 815 795

Apple (E,S) Cupertino, Calif. 9/25/2021 153,306,000 124,556,000 512 500-plus

The Home Depot, Inc. Atlanta 1/30/2022 151,157,000 132,110,000 2,317 2,296

The Kroger Co. Cincinnati 1/29/2021 137,888,000 132,498,000 2,726 2,742

Walgreens Boots Alliance Deerfield, Ill. 8/31/2021 132,509,000 121,982,000 13,000 21,000

Target Corp. Minneapolis 1/29/2022 104,611,000 92,400,000 1,926 1,897

Lowe’s Cos. Mooresville, N.C. 1/28/2022 96,250,000 89,597,000 1,971 1,974

Albertsons Companies Boise, Idaho 2/26/2021 71,887,000 69,690,400 2,276 2,277

Alimentation Couche-Tard Laval, Quebec 4/25/2021 62,809,900 45,760,100 14,008 14,222

Ahold Delhaize (US only) Chantilly, Va. 12/31/2021 53,700,000 51,838,000 2,048 1,970

7-Eleven (E, U.S. and Canada) Dallas 2/28/2022 52,074,450 48,311,952 9,511 12.973

Best Buy Co Richfield, Minn. 1/29/2022 51,761,000 47,262,000 1,144 1,159

The TJX Cos. Framingham, Mass. 1/29/2022 48,549,982 32,136,962 4,689 4,572

Publix Super Markets

Lakeland, Fla. 12/25/2021 47,996,551 44,863,507 1,293 1,264

Dollar General Corp.

Goodlettsville, Tenn. 1/28/2022 34,220,400 33,746,800 18,130 17,177

H-E-B (E)

San Antonio, Texas 10/31/2021 34,000,000 36,816,000 420 354

C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc. Keene, N.H. 12/31/2021 33,032,000 31,450,000 7,700 7,700

Core retail sales in 2022 will grow between




totaling $4.86 trillion to $4.95 trillion, with some of the gains coming from higher prices due to inflation.

Source: National Retail Federation


of retailers plan to offer more discounts for the 2022 holiday shopping season.

Source: RetailMeNot

By 2026, the top three retailers in the U.S. will be Amazon, Walmart and Costco, with

14.9%, 12.7%



of the retail market share, repectively.

Source: Edge by Ascential 2022 United States Retail Landscape and Go-to-Market Planning Report

CHAINSTOREAGE.COM SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2022 9 Source: Company reports unless otherwise noted E: Estimate, NA: Not applicable, R: Retail operations only,
Total Americas sales. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20


21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40

Starbucks Corp. Seattle

Dollar Tree


10/3/2021 29,060,600 23,518,000 33,833 32,660

Chesapeake, Va. 1/29/2022 26,321,900 25,509,300 16,077 15,685

Pilot Co. (E)

Knoxville, Tenn. 12/31/2021 26,000,000 29,500,000 800 950

Meijer (E) Grand Rapids, Mich. 2/1/2021 25,457,000 24,157,000 258 256

Rite Aid Corp. Camp Hill, Pa. 2/26/2022 24,568,255 24,043,240 2,450 2,510

Macy’s Cincinnati, Ohio 1/29/22 24,460,000 17,346,000 787 789

Empire Company Ltd (Sobey’s)

Stellarton, Novia Scotia, Canada 5/7/2022 23,424,120 22,996,262 1,500 1,500

Verizon Communications Inc. (E,R) Basking Ridge, N.J. 12/31/2021 23,164,000 18,420,000 1,500 1,600

Essilor Luxottica Group Charenton-Le-Pont, France 12/31/2021 21,636,830 17,053,350 10,660 8,939

AT&T Inc. (E,R) Dallas 12/31/2021 20,660,000 17,020,000 1,580 1,880

The Sherwin-Williams Co. Cleveland 12/31/2021 19,944,600 18,361,700 4,859 4,774

Ross Stores Dublin, Calif. 1/29/2022 18,916,244 12,531,565 1,923 1,859

Kohl’s Corp. Menomonee Falls, Wis. 1/29/2022 18,471,000 15,031,000 1,165 1,162

Aldi Inc. (E) Batavia, Ill. 12/31/2021 18,200,000 17,056,000 2,166 2,080

Wakefern Food Corp. Keasbey, N.J. 10/2/2021 17,800,000 18,300,000 362 359

Gap Inc. San Francisco 1/29/2022 16,670,000 13,800,000 3,399 3,715

BJ’s Wholesale Club Westborough, Mass. 1/29/2022 16,306,365 15,096,913 226 221

Trader Joe’s (E) Monrovia, Calif. 6/30/2021 14,900,000 14,100,000 530 530

AutoZone Memphis, Tenn. 8/28/2021 14,629,585 12,631,967 6,767 6,549

Nordstrom Seattle 1/29/2022 14,402,000 10,357,000 367 369

Source: Company reports unless otherwise noted

Year-over-year sales will increase




with total sales of $1.45 to $1.47 trillion, during the 2022 holiday period (November 2021 to January 2022). E-commerce holiday sales will increase 12.8% to 14.3%.

Source: Deloitte’s Annual Holiday Forecast

Online consumer spending in the U.S. will pass the $1 trillion mark for the first time ever this year.

Source: Adobe

Retail shrink as a percentage of total retail sales accounted for $94.5 billion in losses in 2021, up from $90.8 billion in 2020.

E: Estimate, NA: Not applicable, R: Retail operations only. Fiscal
Yearend 2020 Revenue [000] 2021 Store Count 2020 Store Count TOP
Source: National Retail Federation 2022 National Retail Security Survey

Qurate Retail, Inc. West Chester, Pa.


2021 Revenue [000] Fiscal Yearend 2020 Revenue [000] 2021 Store Count 2020 Store Count

12/31/2021 14,044,000 14,177,000 25 24

Wayfair Inc. Boston 12/31/2021 13,708,000 14,145,156 1 2

Etsy New York City 12/31/2021 13,491,828 10,281,101 NA NA

O’Reilly Automotive Springfield, Mo. 12/31/2021 13,327,563 11,604,493 5,784 5,616

Menards (E) Eau Claire, Wis. 12/31/2021 13,140,000 12,800,000 328 323

Casey’s General Stores Ankeny, Iowa

4/30/2022 12,952,594 8,707,189 2,452 2,243

Tractor Supply Co. Brentwood, Tenn. 12/25/2021 12,731,105 10,620,352 2,181 2,105

Hy-Vee (E) West Des Moines, Iowa 9/30/2021 12,300,000 11,150,000 285 275

Dick’s Sporting Goods Coraopolis, Pa. 1/29/2022 12,293,368 9,584,019 861 854

EG America

Framingham, Mass. 12/31/2021 12,254,000 11,425,000 1,698 1,634

Wawa (E) Wawa, Pa. 12/31/2021 11,900,000 10,568,000 965 901

Wegmans Food Markets Rochester, N.Y. 12/31/21 11,230,000 10,800,000 106 106

Quik Trip (E) Tulsa, Okla. 4/30/2021 11,300,000 10,709,920 922 882

Advance Auto Parts Roanoke, Va. 1/1/2022 10,998,000 10,106,300 4,706 4,976

eBay Inc. San Jose, Calif. 12/31/2021 10,998,000 10,271,000 NA NA

Associated Wholesale Grocers Kansas City, Kan. 12/26/2021 10,812,782 10,634,379 3,200 3,200

Giant Eagle Inc. (E) Pittsburgh 6/30/2021 10,600,000 9,850,000 488 488

T-Mobile (E) Bellevue, Wash. 12/31/2021 9,733,000 9,421,000 3,868 3,400

ODP Corp. (Office Depot) Boca Raton, Fla. 12/25/2021 9,667,000 9,710,000 1,038 1,154

Racetrac Petroleum (E) Atlanta 12/31/2021 9,600,000 5,484,700 566 552

Source: Company reports unless otherwise noted

E: Estimate, NA: Not applicable, R: Retail operations only.

The U.S. secondhand market for apparel and accessories is expected to more than double by 2026, reaching $82 billion and growing 16 times faster than the broader retail clothing sector; 52% of retail executives say offering resale is becoming table stakes for retailers.

Source: ThredUp 2022 Resale Report

Consumers rank YouTube, Facebook and Instagram as the most trusted U.S. platforms for social commerce.

Source: Insider Intelligence

Trader Joe’s has the best reputation in the U.S., followed by Wegmans Food Markets, Patagonia and the Hershey Company.

Source: 23rd annual Axios-Harris Poll 100.

41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60
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Southeastern Grocers (E) Jacksonville, Fla.


12/31/2021 9,600,000 8,033,000 419 419

Burlington Stores Burlington, N.J. 1/29/2022 9,306,549 5,751,541 840 761

Foot Locker New York City 1/29/2022 8,958,000 7,548,000 2,858 2,998

J.C. Penney Co. (E) Plano, Texas 2/2/2022 8,940,000 7,480,000 669 650

SpartanNash Companies Grand Rapids, Mich. 1/1/2022 8,931,039 9,348,485 145 156

Good Neighbor Pharmacy (E) Chesterbrook, Pa. 9/30/2021 8,660,000 8,450,000 2,360 2,377

Ulta Beauty Bolingbrook, Ill. 1/29/2022 8,630,889 6,151,953 1,308 1,264

Ace Hardware (domestic only) (domestic only) Oak Brook, Ill. 12/28/2021 18.9 billion 17.1 billion 5,500 5,400

Williams-Sonoma San Francisco

1/30/2022 8,245,936 6,783,189 544 581

Army & Airforce Exchange Service Dallas 2/1/2022 8,200,000 7,500,000 4,330 4,900

WinCo Foods (E) Boise, Idaho 3/31/2021 8,100,000 7,795,000 131 131

Bath & Body Works Columbus Columbus, Ohio 1/29/2022 7,882,000 6,434,000 1,755 1,736

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. Union, N.J. 2/26/2022 7,867,800 9,233,028 953 1,020

Signet Jewelers Ltd. Hamilton, Bermuda 1/29/2022 7,826,000 5,226,900 2,854 2,833

PetSmart (E) Phoenix 1/31/2022 7,420,000 13,180,000 1,566 1,156

Sheetz (E) Altoona, Pa. 9/30/2021 7,200,000 7,532,720 630 616

Bass Pro Shops (E) Springfield, Mo. 12/31/2021 6,930,000 6,800,000 154 152

Camping World Lincolnshire, Ill. 12/31/2021 6,913,754 5,446,591 187 171

Ikea North America (E) Conshohocken, Pa. 8/31/2021 6,790,000 6,573,350 70 66

Victoria’s Secret & Co. Reynoldsburg, Ohio 1/29/2022 6,785,000 5,413,000 899 933

65% of consumers visit Walmart to make everyday purchases. Other popular retailers for everyday items are Amazon (43%), Dollar Tree (34%)

Dollar General (31%), and Target (30%).

Source: Engine Insights’ “Pulse of the American Consumer”

Two-thirds (64%) of respondents already purchased a virtual good or taken part in a virtual experience or service in the past year, with the figure expected to rise; 83% showed interest in making purchases via the metaverse.

Source: Accenture

Revenue [000] Fiscal Yearend 2020 Revenue [000] 2021 Store Count 2020 Store Count TOP
Source: Company reports unless otherwise noted E: Estimate, NA: Not applicable, R: Retail operations only. 2021
61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80
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2021 Revenue [000]

Academy Sports + Outdoors San Antonio

1/29/2022 6,773,128 5,689,233 259 259

The Raley’s Companies West Sacramento, Calif. 12/31/2021 6,750,000 3,975,000 242 124

Tapestry New York City 7/2/2022 6,684,500 5,746,300 1,443 1,450

AVB Brandsource (E)

Nashville 12/31/2021 6,540,000 6,280,000 4,500 4,500

Dillard’s Little Rock, Ark. 1/29/2022 6,493,000 4,300,895 280 282

Staples (E)

Framingham, Mass. 1/31/2022 6,400,000 8,670,000 1,040 1,071

Hobby Lobby (E) Oklahoma City 12/31/2021 6,270,000 4,790,000 1,001 919

Demoulas Supermarkets (E) Tewksbury, Mass. 1/2/2022 6,200,000 5,600,000 87 84

Big Lots Inc. Columbus, Ohio 1/29/2022 6,150,603 6,199,186 1,431 1,408

Sprouts Farmers Market San Bernardino, Calif. 1/2/2022 6,099,869 6,468,759 374 362

GameStop Corp. Grapevine, Texas 1/29/2022 6,010,700 5,089,800 4,573 4,816

Sephora Americas (E) New York City 12/31/2021 6,010,000 5,010,000 508 1,124

Petco Health and Wellness Co. San Diego 1/29/2022 5,807,149 4,920,202 1,433 1,454

Under Armour Baltimore 12/31/2021 5,683,466 4,474,667 422 439

Save Mart Supermarkets (E) Modesto, Calif. 6/30/2021 5,600,000 5,250,000 204 206

Tiffany & Co. (E) New York City 1/31/2021 5,600,000 4,400,000 326 326

Discount Tire (E) Scottsdale, Ariz. 12/31/2021 5,200,000 5,150,000 1,087 1,078

American Eagle Outfitters Pittsburgh, Pa. 1/29/2022 5,010,785 3,759,113 1,133 1,078

Michaels Stores (E) Irving, Texas 1/31/2022 5,010,000 5,280,000 1,140 1,120

Total Wine & More (E) Bethesda, Md. 12/31/2021 5,000,000 4,310,000 233 226

Source: Company reports unless otherwise noted

E: Estimate, NA: Not applicable, R: Retail operations only.

Online retail sales in the U.S. will grow 10% annually during the next five years to account for 30% of the market by 2027; offline will account for 70% of total retail sales. U.S. total retail sales will reach $5.5 trillion and online retail sales will reach $1.6 trillion by 2027.

Source: Forrester’s 2022 Online Retail Sales Forecast, U.S.

Online returns cost retailers an average 21% of order value.

Source: Pitney Bowes BOXpoll survey

For the 11th consecutive year, Nike is teens’ No.1 favored clothing brand, followed by American Eagle Outfitters, Lululemon, H&M and Adidas.

Source: Piper Sandler Companies’ 43rd annual semi-annual “Taking Stock With Teens” survey.

Fiscal Yearend 2020 Revenue [000] 2021 Store Count 2020 Store Count TOP
81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100
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Lighting Rebate Update

Bonus programs at record high

A new report has good news for retailers who are updating to more efficient lighting.

Currently, 77% of the United States has an active commercial lighting rebate program, with 22% having a bonus program available as of mid-September, which is the highest BriteSwitch has seen seen it began tracking commercial light ing rebates 14 years ago. (The Princeton, N.J.-based company helps businesses find and take advantage of rebates and incen tive programs that exist across the United States and Canada.)

A bonus program is when rebate orga nizations offer increased incentives for the existing rebate measures for a set period of time. The value of the bonus varies depending on the utility.

Here is a look from BriteSwitch at the most common types of bonus programs:

• Bonus on specific products: Rebate programs may offer additional incentives on certain product categories to help increase participation. For example, it may be a particular product type, such as a 4’ LED tube, or a whole category, such as outdoor lighting. The bonus never specifies a specific brand or model.

• Bonus on certain customer catego ries: If a specific market segment seems to be particularly reluctant to upgrade its lighting, programs may offer a bonus for those customers.

• Across the line bonus: This type gives an additional rebate for any project, regardless of the application

or product. For example, a program may offer an extra 20% for any lighting rebate it provides for the next 60 days

• Trade ally bonus: Some programs find that it’s more effective to incentivize the person selling the lighting instead of the end user. To receive these incentives, you typical ly must be a trade ally with a program. Since these bonuses go directly to the distributor, contractor or ESCO, they instantly increase the vendor’s margins.

BriteSwitch warned that bonus programs are usually sudden and short-lived, with many having specific rules and require ments. They may have strict pre-approval or final approval dates.

“Pay attention to all the fine print and dead lines, or you will miss out,” the company said.

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Keeping Things Cool — And Green

Fast-growing Aldi isn’t letting its expan sion get in the way of its commitment to the environment.

The discount grocer, which is on track to become the third-largest grocery chain in the United States by yearend, has set ag gressive sustainability goals, one of which is focused on reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 26% by 2025. Phasing out harmful refrigerants is part of that strategy.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Environmental Protection Agency’s GreenChill program recognized Aldi with its Store Certification Excellence Award for having the most GreenChill-certified stores of any food retail company. (The certification is awarded to stores that replace standard commercial refrigerants with environmentally friendlier ones that keep their greenhouse gas emissions as

close to zero as possible. More than 500 Aldi stores have been certified, which is more than all other grocery retailers in the nation combined.)

Transitioning to refrigerants that have near-zero global warming potential is only part of Aldi’s blueprint for achieving a smaller carbon footprint. Other steps include:

• Installing rooftop solar panels that produce green electricity in 120 stores and 12 distribution centers (with plans to add 60 new stores and one new distribution center this year);

• Using environmentally friendly building materials and energy-efficient appli ances in new and remodeled stores; and • Making green electricity purchases to offset 100% of any energy used that Aldi hasn’t produced itself via its on-site solar and wind.

In addition, Aldi is testing a smart build ing automation system to minimize wasted energy with the lowest possible emissions.

“We’re working to decrease our overall impact on the climate more and more each day, with each step bringing us that much closer to becoming ‘real zero,’ or completely emissions-free,” said Dan Gavin, VP of national real estate at Aldi. “This is just the beginning. We plan on remaining at the forefront of sustainability and have some promising ideas on how we can keep reduc ing our environmental impact even further.”

Aldi is taking steps towards a smaller carbon footprint.

Construction Costs Update

There is some light at the end of the tun nel when it comes to rising construction costs. But it’s still a ways out.

Construction costs are forecast to rise 14.1% this year due to rising prices for labor and materials, accord ing to CBRE’s U.S. Construction Cost Trends report. Annual increases, how ever, should return to the historical aver age of between 2% and 4% in 2023 and 2024. Overall cost inflation for materials is expected to begin easing by the end of 2022 and largely return to typical levels by mid-2023.

Supply chain-related disruptions should also begin to ease, but ongoing labor and component shortages will impair production and logistics capac ity, CBRE said. As a result, long lead times and material shortages will likely

continue in the short term.

Nonresidential construction input prices in August (the latest data available as of press time) were up 16.3% from a year ago, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Producer Price Index data by the Associated Builders and Contractors, a national construction industry trade association.

On a year-over-year basis, input prices were up in all but two of 11 subcatego ries, including natural gas (up 38.8%), fabricated structural metal products (up 17.7%), concrete products (up 14.3%), softwood lumber (up 14.8%), plumb ing fixtures and fittings (up 10.9%) and prepared asphalt, tar roofing and siding products (up 15.2%).

On the positive side, nonresidential construction input prices decreased

1.4% in August compared to the previ ous month.

Labor: In addition to higher costs, the construction industry faces numerous labor challenges, including a smaller talent pool, competition from other in dustries and an aging workforce — one in five construction workers is currently older than 55. In 2023, the industry will need to bring in nearly 590,000 new workers on top of normal hiring to meet industry demand, according to the ABC.

The scarcity of qualified skilled work ers is an even more pressing issue, noted ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.

“More than 40% of construction workforce growth over the past decade is comprised of low-skilled construction laborers, who represent just 19% of the workforce,” he said.

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Keeping Stores Open For Business During Renovations

With awareness of indoor air quality at an all-time high, ZipWall Dust Barrier System’s Jeff Whittemore talked with Chain Store Age about how retailers can keep stores open for business safely during a renovation while also speeding up the process.

Why is controlling dust during a remodel so important in the retail and restaurant spaces?

Remodeling dust is a nuisance at best — or it can be an outright health hazard. Minimizing exposure to it protects both employees and customers. For restau rants, protecting food preparation and service areas is critical. For retailers, there is an added financial benefit to protecting merchandise and displays.

What trends are you seeing in retail construction and remodeling activity?

We are seeing an uptick in the use of the ZipWall Dust Barrier System during store renovations as awareness of interior air quality is higher than ever before. We are also seeing an overall increase in hospitality and retail renovations as many hotels and restaurants update their interior and stores transform post-pandemic. We are also noticing an increasing number of retail chains that require their contractors to use ZipWall barriers chainwide.

What are some of the challenges stores and restaurants face when updating their interiors?

Many interior retail spaces have large, open floor plans with high drop-ceilings. The ZipWall Dust Barrier System is uniquely suited for this environment. ZipWall dust barrier poles extend as high as 20 feet and work well with most ceiling types, includ ing drop-ceilings. ZipWall barriers can be placed anywhere to section off parts of the store. They can be extended as needed by simply adding more poles.

How can ZipWall help help retailers keep stores open during renovations?

ZipWall barriers minimize disruption to the business during renovations. Isolating the work area allows the store to remain open throughout the remodel. Opaque plastic, or the white ZipWall reusable barrier, conceals the construction site and keeps the retail space clean and profes sional. The barrier also keeps hazardous jobsite items like tools and loose nails away from customers and employees. The speed of set up and removal of a ZipWall barrier allows for rolling construction, where specific areas can be renovated one at a time. It also permits overnight construction. A ZipWall bar rier can be set up after hours for noisy and messy work, such as demolition, and taken down by morning in time for the store to reopen.

What exactly is the ZipWall Dust Barrier System?

The ZipWall Dust Barrier System was in vented about twenty years ago. The core of the system is made up spring-loaded, telescoping poles that let contractors set up temporary barriers up to 20 feet high in minutes.

The system includes self-adhesive zip pers to create entries in the barrier, selfclosing magnetic doors, various kits for sealing off rooms, special rails for tightly sealing a barrier, sticky mats for prevent ing dust from tracking out of the work area, a negative air attachment and other accessories for addressing just about any dust containment challenge.

Prior to ZipWall, what other options did retailers have for isolating work areas?

There were various makeshift solutions,

including building temporary walls with 2x4s, using ceiling hangers and taping plastic sheeting. These methods are all time consuming and difficult to set up. They also damage existing surfaces and require repair after the job is finished. The ZipWall system was specifically designed to address these issues and offer a reliable barrier that is quick and easy to set up and does not damage surfaces.

How complicated is the set-up?

Setting up a ZipWall barrier is very easy — the system does not require ladders or other tools. One person can set up a barrier in minutes. There is a handy Job Planner on zipwall.com to help with planning a dust barrier. For large, complex barriers, a consultation with a technical ZipWall expert is available.

Tell us about ZipWall’s ZipDoor Magnetic Door Kit

The new, reusable ZipDoor Magnetic is perfect for both covering a doorway and creating an entry anywhere in a plastic barrier. Self-closing magnets provide easy hands-free access to the jobsite while ensuring the barrier remains sealed. Installation is easy with ZipWall double-sided tape.

Beyond renovations and remodels, how else ZipWall help businesses?

ZipWall barriers can be used for conceal ing a mess, keeping customers away from an area or covering an in-progress dis play. Retailers can also use ZipWall poles for creative projects such as impromptu photoshoot backgrounds, room dividers or hanging displays.

Jeff Whittemore is the founder and president, of ZipWall Dust Barrier System.

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another of its banners stateside. The Japanese apparel retailer is set to open the first U.S. location of its GU brand in downtown Manhattan. GU specializes in low-priced, trend-driven fashions for young men and women. … Printemps, the 150-year-old, iconic French department store, will open its first U.S. location in 2024, a two-level, 54,365-sq.-ft. store in Manhattan’s Financial District. Parisian interior designer Laura Gonzalez will be the proj ect architect, creating a “Paris meets New York” twist on the design.


STORES: Express is doubling down on its smaller store, off-mall Edit format. The apparel retailer is opening six new Express Edit stores (including two in New York City and two in Miami), for a total of 11 outposts by yearend. Averaging under 4,000 sq. ft. and situated in high-traffic locations, the stores feature curated and localized product assortments, with enhanced customer services. … Fast Retailing, parent of Uniqlo, is exporting

… Terez, the women’s and girls’ activewear brand best known for its signature printed leggings, has opened its first permanent store. Located in Manhattan, the 1,600-sq.-ft. shop is colorful and inviting, with hot pink accent walls, a checkboard floor and a glass ballloon ceiling installation. Shoppers can personalize their pur chases with crystals and embroidery. … Planet Hollywood, whose Big Apple outpost went dark during the pandemic, will open a new location in Times Square in May 2023. Designed by api(+), the eatery said it will offer an im mersive, three-story experience that surrounds custom ers with the culture, sights and sounds of Hollywood and favorite celebrities. … Lids has opened its largest loca tion to date, a two-story, 12,000-sq.-ft. flagship on the Las Vegas Strip. The store boasts shop-in-shops from a variety of sports leagues and two large-scale LED screens designed to showcase prime time games. … The world’s first Nike Style store has opened in Seoul, South Korea, with a second one set to open in Shanghai. Following the initial doors, Nike plans to expand the concept to other countries. Blurring the lines between physical shopping and digital, Nike Style also blurs the lines between the sexes, with gender-free lifestyle product zones for certain items, including fleece and tops. Throughout the space, QR codes offer augmented reality experiences related to Nike product innovations and surrounding art installations. The store also features a studio where local creatives, product experts and shoppers can create content for their social media channels with customizable backdrops.

Nike Style


For more than 50 years these roofed successors to downtowns defined the nation’s consumerism, culture, and Christmases. Now at a crossroads, malls must make the correct turns in a fast-changing marketplace to keep their concourses open. Chain Store Age asked some of the United States’ leading mall managers to lay out some of the dos and don’ts they are adhering to on the rough retail road ahead.


…change the experience that’s been in existence for 30 or 40 years and doesn’t work anymore. Create an open, activated plaza experience. Create a sense of place.

So take down that empty depart ment store box and use that space to create the experience you need today. People want to take their kids and grandkids out and listen to music, sit on a patio and have dinner. But malls don’t have the open space needed to do that, so you take that box down and bring in the types of businesses—enter tainment and food and beverage

and experiential retailers—that people want today. That’s today’s anchor.

The problem is that most mall owners aren’t in a position to make these kinds of investments. Their locations are fabulous, but the malls are too big and they have too much debt to do what needs to be done. What we did was look at removing some of the GLA in the shop space. In order to re-merchandise and obtain the true value of your real estate, you have to change the physical plant.


…do nothing. You shouldn’t believe the mall will get better without you doing something about it. You’ve got to have a totally open vision and say the past is the past. The last thing you want to do is stay locked into the same footprint you had. You need to open your eyes and say, “I need to change what’s here,” not “I need to continue what was.”

DO… …analyze the property’s underly ing demographics, competitive landscape, and results and de termine if it has a future or if it’s headed for obsolescence. We did this and sold off 19 malls--almost half of our portfolio.

One that we thought still had a life ahead of it was Moorestown Mall, which is just four miles away from Cherry Hill Mall, our top performer. To distinguish it from Cherry Hill, we began looking at new tenants that were not typical mall tenants… medical, din ing, residential. We used to have tenants that were common in both. Now that’s by the wayside. We brought in HomeSense, Sierra, Five Below and Michaels. When we lost Sears, we bought the building back, and sold it to Cooper University Healthcare, which is investing $100 million in it and should drive additional customers to our doorstep. More recently, we executed a transaction with a multifamily developer that’s un der construction for 375 residential units on the property. We believe this sort of creativity is the future for many malls.

“Take down that empty department store box and use that space to create the experience you need today. The problem is that most mall owners aren’t in a position to make these kinds of investments.”
—Centennial CEO Steven Levin


…try to prolong a mall’s life when it can’t be one anymore. Get creative and innovative. One thing’s for sure, malls are well-located. But there comes a time when you have to aban don the traditional mall approach and start coming up with a list of new possibilities.


…be willing to reinvest in your properties constantly. Your center has to look healthy and vital. Simply put, your center must have new appeal to people every time they travel or visit, and that takes a lot of imagina tion, resilience, hard work and money.

Malls are a unique type of commercial real estate. They’re living things that are complex and made up of many different parts, and each needs to be approached separately. New enhancements or transformations that are done take a lot of thought because they’ll ultimately change and enhance the perception of what that mall is.

When we built the on-site Embassy Suites Hotel at Destiny USA in Syracuse, the center became something different, trans forming it into an international travel and tourism destination. The hotel provided us with unique opportunities to offer guests special “Shop & Stay” and “Stay & Play” packages, along with a premium “Shop & Drop” shopping bag delivery program for hotel guests. Almost immediately, the perception of the property changed. That allowed us to broaden our appeal and attract exciting new tenants to the property in entertainment and food and beverage.


...rest on your laurels and stop reinvesting in your shopping centers. Once you do those two things, it’s game over. Malls are incredibly dynamic. They’re not like office or residential. Office

Anchor closings aren’t always a bad thing. Though Moorestown Mall in the New Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia sits just 4 miles from PREIT’s top mall in Cherry Hill, it serves a different customer base and we decided to keep it.

We at PREIT evaluate our properties on the competitive land scape and the demographics and psychographics as well as their locations. In the case of Moorestown, this assessment led us down the path of bringing in traditionally open-air tenants. Ours was a location far superior to that of a power center along a local road on the other side of the mall.

The redevelopment required some perseverance, however.

First Macy’s closed and, in that space, we put the region’s first HomeSense and Sierra stores, along with Five Below and Mi chael’s. Cooper University Healthcare had earlier approached us about a location at Cherry Hill Mall, but we didn’t have the expo sure they were seeking.

Then Sears announced it would close its Moorestown store— ideally situated along Rte. 38—and immediately we had a solu tion. We acquired the Sears box and sold it to Cooper.

The third anchor at Moorestown Mall was Lord & Taylor, which liquidated and left its space. The irony is that this space is now much more marketable as a result of the successful re-tenanting of the first two fallen anchors.

Years before, PREIT recognized that the value of its real estate would not be maximized unless we densified our assets. We evaluated each of our markets for potential new uses and identi fied the opportunity to add over 3,000 apartment units to our suburban assets—one of which was Moorestown.

In seeking to differentiate Moorestown from Cherry Hill, we took steps to ensure minimal tenant overlap. Cherry Hill Mall has widely been hailed as the fashion destination of South Jersey— even attracting Center City Philadelphia residents. So at Moore stown, we pivoted away from traditional full-price retail and leaned heavily into off-price retail, multifamily residential, hotels, entertainment, and small businesses.

Three anchors fall and a revitalized mall finds new legs.

— Joseph F. Coradino is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Philadelphia-based PREIT.

“Malls can grow stale. You could have a 100%-leased mall and I guarantee you it will get stale after a few years.”
—Pyramid CEO Steven Congel
Ever hear the one about three anchors closing and giving new life to a mall?
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space becomes like a coupon clipper. You can keep them going for long periods of time with three people and a calculator. However, malls can grow stale. You could have a 100%-leased mall and I guarantee you it will get stale after a few years. People are always looking for what’s new and what’s fresh, so change and an evolution of the experience is a very good thing.

DO… …explore possibilities that you might never not have considered before. Initially, we were a little nervous about the prospect of add ing casinos at two of our malls, but the additions have far surpassed our expectations and have given us double-digit-plus traffic lifts at those locations.

We felt that the casinos needed to be integrated with the mall to allow for a crossflow of traffic with the mall. We also wanted the casinos to offer more than gambling--like good restaurants and entertainment, and they’ve done that.

There were some security concerns, but they’ve been managed.



The casinos are open 24/7, and we just close access to the mall when it closes. Their restaurants have had a very positive effect on building traffic with new customers. The casino has widened our market areas considerably at both locations.

Live!, which is part of the Cordish Company, also made a lot of improvements to the property. They’ve added signage, parking, and physical upgrades. Having great entertainment as a part of your mix is a must today, and Cordish under stands entertainment.


…. ignore your market. The mall business is not cookie cutter anymore, so use all the customer data intelligence and other data that is available today. At the same time, don’t rush. A lot of the things we’re trying today are new, and once you do it you can’t un-do it. We’ve looked at some of the things that we did just five years ago and said we’d probably do it differently today.

merger for the times

As today’s shopping centers age, Steven Levin, CEO of Centennial, says one of malls’ biggest problems is that they have too much parking and not enough park.

In August, Centennial, an owner-operator of prominent shopping centers like Main Place in California and Fox Valley in Illinois, made a bold move to change that by pur chasing Bayer Properties, a best-in-class open-air real estate operating company.

The marriage of the two firms expanded Centennial’s portfolio to 23 million sq. ft. of managed properties in 18 states. More importantly, it shined a spotlight on the combined firms’ vision for the future of retail real estate: creating mixed-use destinations with green space; luxury apartment communities and independent living residences; hotels and offices, and unrivaled dining and entertainment options that complement existing retail.

Barely two months post-acquisition, the combined teams have already sparked new

and inventive ideas.

“Our head of mixed-use design recently held a number of conversations with the Bayer team yielding a wealth of ideas that will greatly benefit our properties,” said Centennial’s president, Whitney Livingston. Centennial will retain its Dallas head quarters and employ a combined staff of 300-plus employees. Bayer’s Birmingham headquarters will become a regional office for Centennial, which will maintain other regional offices in Philadelphia, Chicago, Orange County, and Lexington, making Centennial a truly nationwide organization.

“We now have a coast-to-coast platform with greater geographic reach and a wider array of properties giving our tenants access to some of the best real estate in the country,” said Bayer’s former president and CFO Jami Wadkins, who now serves as Centennial’s COO.

Livingston agrees.

“Through this acquisition, we have an in

credible opportunity to expand our shared vision for open-air, mixed-use destina tions,” she said. “This will create more value for our properties, partners and investors.”

“Don’t rush. We’ve looked at some of the things that we did just five years ago and said we’d probably do it differently today.
—CBL CEO Stephen Lebovitz
Jami Wadkins and Whitney Livingston

One-of-a-kind properties tailored to each community.

Join our portfolio as we re-define the future of the mall, creating one-stop destinations for communities to shop, live, play, dine, stay and work.

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…pay attention to what consumers are looking for. They want everything at their fingertips--food, entertainment, luxury goods, fitness, and wellness. They want it 24 hours a day. And they don’t want to commute all over town to get it. So you want to create a city within a city.

What we did at Westfield UTC in San Diego is a good ex ample. We switched Nordstrom to another box to optimize its location and create future development opportunities. We changed the tenant mix. We brought in Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Soul Cycle, top restaurants and wine bars. We repurposed an underutilized portion of land to build a luxury high-rise residen tial building.

Younger people, whenever they’re going to leave their homes, are going to do shopping along with a lot of other things. Physicality and social interaction will be important for a long time to come.


…stay stuck in the past. Don’t focus only on long-term leases, because consumers always want more options and we have to focus on the consumer. Consumers don’t want to spend their whole day in a mall that’s 90% fashion. Online shopping gave them a far more convenient way to discover what’s new. So what we need to do is provide them that same ability to explore and try new and different things in the physical space. We constantly have to be searching out new retailers, new food and beverage experiences, new entertainment, and fulfill other critical needs like convenient housing, offices, and hospitality.

Home is where the amenities are

Irecently watched an episode of the Netflix show “Stranger Things,” which is set in the Eighties, and a scene took place in a mall. I thought to myself, “That was every mall back then.” Indeed, mall properties became homogenous to the point where you couldn’t tell one from another.

In fact, there once were more than 1,000 malls in the United States. Now we find ourselves in a sped-up evolutionary phase that will end with more than half of them gone. Big changes are being made, and one that we think will be found in many of the malls that survive are residential components.

Earlier this year our company, Pyramid Management Group, wel comed its first residents to a 282-unit Trammel Crow multifamily development next to our Kingston Collection mixed-use complex in Kingston, Mass. It is market-rate rental housing that is in high demand in that area.

In Walkill, N.Y., the Eliviat Group will erect a 224-unit residential property called The Galleria Residences across from our Galleria at Crystal Run. We’re looking at a June 2024 completion date.

We began talking about residential development 10 years ago, but we weren’t sure the market was there. Without question, we also would have gotten a lot of push-back from our anchors, lend ers, and community leaders had we gone forth with a residential plan then.

That’s gone now. In fact, today they’re encouraging us to build residential.

It makes sense now because people have less time in their schedules. They want convenient access to food and beverage options, entertainment, medical attention, and personal services. Millennials and Gen Yers are getting older and want to move into apartments in places that offer them these kinds of amenities. Empty-nesters, too.

Therefore, we at Pyramid are considering densification projects at nearly every one of our retail properties as the popularity of live-work-play destinations continues to increase among the U.S. population. In Albany, we recently received approval for a new apartment development and intend to break ground this fall. More will soon follow.


…remember why we were here in the first place—to drive traffic to places where people want to be. Brookfield Properties does this by bringing relevance to a broader trade area. We must be

The world has changed, and the mall must change, too.

ADAM TRITT Brookfield, Chief Development Officer — Stephen J. Congel is the Chief Executive Officer of Pyramid Management Group, based in Syracuse, N.Y.

quick to detect changes in the community.

Since the pandemic, we’ve definitely leaned harder on data to determine the where and why of traffic patterns. An example where we made a positive change is in San Francisco at our Stonetown Galleria. We added a Whole Foods and a new theater in a former department store space that changed the way the traf fic flowed. We look at densification opportunities where appro priate, but we want that strong retail core that survives and thrives.


... lose sight of the broader community. There are big popula tions that have a lot of moving demographics. As we look at younger generations, we’re able to interact with them more directly. Where we used to do focus groups, we now do town halls and social media. Looking back at the beginnings of our industry, we had a tried-and-true model. We are now on a mis sion to discover what’s the next generation of tried-and-true.

a fashion store sold the same fashions every year? We are in the daily-monthly-annual transformation business.

Customers have high expectations. and they should. Your outlet has to be an omnichannel-worthy location and it has to be aligned with the behavior of your shopper. If you don’t want your mall to die, you have to have a stewardship that’s going to evolve. Invest in and make the changes that will allow it to live on.




…listen, research, and learn. You can’t go to different communi ties with standard formats that you try to fit in anywhere. Involve the community and give the community ownership of the place. And do make your place more relevant to omnichannel. Increase the levels of service. For years developers have been fighting online shopping. Now we know that omnichannel is the ultimate channel. All the major online retailers need brickand-mortar stores. Provide in-store pick-up, curbside delivery, home delivery. Use technology to give shoppers access to your property and its merchants online. We’re doing that at Galleria Dallas today.


…do nothing. Evolve or die. If you’ve got a dated mall that hasn’t been transformed or rethought in the last 10 years, it’s going to become less relevant every day. Evolve or die. What if

…break away from what malls were in the past and offer new uses that satisfy people’s needs, including a diverse tenant mix with ancil lary services. Bergen Town Center in Paramus, New Jersey, for example, is an assemblage of essential uses that people need for their daily lives, including grocery, pharmacy, cosmetics, food, fit ness, and retail, all wrapped into one experience. We created a super-regional anchor mix that includes Target, Whole Foods, Saks Off 5th and Nike Factory Store—plus a wide diversity of dining options – where most of our tenants have outdoor entrances. Plus, Bergen Town Center’s value-retail niche dis tinguishes it from the other full-price malls in Paramus. Next up is a state-of-the-art medical facility that we’re starting con struction on in November for Hackensack Meridian Health.


…get it in your head that you’re going to be successful without anchors, but also consider what type of anchors make sense for the surrounding community. Anchors can be residential towers, offices, hotels, etcetera, that add a unique element to the retail mix and build the repeat visits that are critical for a successful shopping destination. Don’t miss the opportunity to shake up your anchor strategy to create a dynamic place for people to live, work and play.

EVP & COO, Urban Edge Properties TERRY MONTESI CEO, Trademark
“For years developers have been fighting online shopping. Now we know that omnichannel is the ultimate channel.”
‚—Trademark CEO Terry Montesi

Machine Learning Update

Artificial intelligence learns on the job

Retailers are finding machine learning technology to be highly applicable to current business issues.

Machine learning(ML), a subset of artificial intelligence that analyzes patterns in data to “learn” and adapt in a man ner similar to humans, is reaching an inflection point in retail. This once bleeding-edge technology may not yet be a routine retail solution, but is popping up more frequently in the retailer enterprise.

Here are a few reasons why an ever-growing number of retail ers are studying up on the benefits of ML:

• Better reactions

In the past few years, retail has found itself facing a number of high-impact events that even the best currently available AIbased predictive systems could not foresee. These include the COVID-19 pandemic, global supply chain disruption and an ongoing labor shortage.

ML technology provides two key advantages in dealing with this type of unpredictable disruption. First, as soon as an event like a pandemic occurs, ML solutions can begin detecting and analyz ing data patterns to recommend responses that are much more constructive than reactions based on human intuition alone.

Second, once an “unpredictable” event such as COVID-19 or global supply chain disruption has occurred, ML technology can recognize otherwise undetectable data patterns to sense when a similar situation may be developing. And even if something like a pandemic re-occurs without advance notice, ML systems can rely on previous learnings to provide retailers with a much stronger initial response.

• Generation gap, part 2

When the baby boomers came of age in the turbulent 1960s, the massive disconnect between the behaviors, attitudes and desires of that emerging cohort compared to their parents was dubbed the “Generation Gap.” Conventional wisdom holds that as boomers maintained a young, progressive outlook on life, this gap largely disappeared as Gen X and millennials grew up with little to rebel against.

Guess what? Gen Z has arrived as arguably the most important generation of consumers, and there is a significant gap between how they live their lives and how older consumers do. This gap is predicated not so much on sex, drugs and rock n roll, but on how they use technology.

For example, a recent consumer survey from Morning Consult indicates that 42% of respondents across all generations have used mobile wallet payments. However, this figure includes only 21% of baby boomers and 36% of Gen Xers who have paid

via mobile wallet solutions. These percentages rise much higher among millennials (53%), and especially, among Gen Zers (62%).

It’s no surprise that a generation that played with toy smart phones as toddlers and came of age in the era of pandemicinspired touchless commerce would gravitate toward mobile wallet payments. Gen Z consumers are also much more likely to rely on social media influencers and consider a retailer’s sustain ability when making purchase decisions.

Properly meeting the needs of Gen Z customers at every touchpoint goes far beyond having a mobile and social presence, or hosting young shopper market research panels. ML technol ogy enables retailers to effectively sense and respond to demand signals they may not fully understand.

• Automation requires humanity Finally, as automation spreads across the enterprise, ML is play ing a crucial role in ensuring that processes continue to become more effective and efficient, just as they do when humans manu ally performing them learn on the job.

For example, in the case of case of Just Walk Out frictionless shopping technology, Amazon deploys sensors, optics and ML algorithms. As a result, the company has reduced the number of cameras required in stores enabled with this solution to make them more cost-effective, smaller and capable of running deep networks locally. Just Walk Out sensors and algorithms have also evolved to detect a broad range of products and differences in shopping behavior in full-sized grocery stores.

Also, consider how Walgreens is leveraging the ML capabilities of Blue Yonder’s inventory management technology to improve the accuracy of inventory, shrink and shipping. The drugstore giant uses ML to see what the probable fulfillment rate is, as well as to support the sustained increase in customer usage of omnichannel shopping features, such as buy-online-pickup-instore (BOPIS), curbside pickup and same-day delivery, which began during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Reduce Shrink With Enterprise AI Solutions

Losses from retail shrink are on the rise.

As revealed in the recent 2022 National Retail Security Survey from the National Retail Federation, when taken as a percentage of total retail sales in 2021, retail shrink accounted for $94.5 billion in losses last year, up from $90.8 billion in 2020.

While any retailer’s loss preven tion strategy should include dedi cated shrink detection and prevention technology, other solutions used in different areas of the enterprise can also provide anti-shrink benefits. Retailers should not overlook the role that artifi cial intelligence-based retail enterprise technologies can play in helping loss prevention efforts.

Here are a few to consider.

Frictionless shopping

True frictionless shopping, where customers digitally announce their presence in a store, take the items they want, and then leave with auto matic debit or credit payment for their purchase, is growing in popularity in the grocery and convenience verticals. One of the best-known examples is Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technolo gy, which is designed to offer customers a quick shopping experience to pick up grab-and-go food, snacks and beverage items, and a few everyday essentials.

Just Walk Out leverages a combina tion of computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning that enables shoppers to shop the store, pick out what they want and skip the checkout when they’re done. When shoppers arrive, they open the Amazon app, tap “In-Store Code,” and scan in with the QR code presented.

The frictionless retail model relies on

sophisticated, artificial intelligence-based cameras and shelf sensors to track every item each individual customer picks up and puts back — in real time. While frictionless shopping does not eliminate shoplifting, its very nature makes detect ing theft before an offender can leave the store much easier.

The true frictionless model, which elim inates in-store checkout altogether, serves as the best shrink reducer. Wegmans Food Markets is ending its app-based self-checkout program, which involves stopping at a self-checkout register and applying payment before leaving, due to high loss rates. Self-checkout solutions typically do not feature quite as much intensive, real-time product and shopper tracking, opening more possibility for abuse by shoplifters.

Automated shelf tracking Technology that applies AI and machine learning to detect low or empty stock lev els can also serve as a real-time loss pre vention system. For example, Walmart Canada is rolling out a computer vision AI solution from Focal Systems that uses cameras to automate out-of-stock detection.

The solution, which is integrated with the retailer’s existing inventory systems, automatically detects real-time availability concerns, such as out-of-stock or lowstock products on shelves, and directs store associates to replenish them.

This type of system generates historical data that can be analyzed for inventory patterns that suggest nefarious activity. It can also send real-time alerts to store managers or company loss prevention experts who can pick up on shrinkage signals that associates might miss.

Robotic solutions, such as the multipur pose Badger Technologies autonomous robots that regional home improvement retailer Busy Beaver Building Centers uses to more closely monitor in-store inven tory, traffic and buying trends, can also serve this dual shrink reduction purpose.

Enterprise order management Solutions that provide retailers realtime visibility into the position of stock, across every channel and touchpoint in their enterprise, can also provide crucial insight into shrink issues that may exist throughout the supply chain. Mulberry, a U.K.-based designer and manufacturer of luxury leather goods, is rolling out the Aptos order management solution.

Mulberry is implementing the Aptos system across its stores and e-commerce operation as it continues to expand operations internationally. The company recognized the need to establish a uni fied view of inventory, so it would know whether stock was positioned in stores, distribution centers, or elsewhere in its demand chain.

By obtaining a unified, omnichannel view of stock location, Mulberry increases its ability to meet customer expecta tions for a seamless experience across all channels, as well as for faster delivery and heightened convenience. In addition, Mulberry gains immediate insight into any unusual movements or disappear ances of stock, when and where it occurs.


Realize Anything

What good is line of sight if you have no insight? Insight incites change and change at the right time is foresight. We’re experts in that—experts in seeing what’s coming in retail and offering data and insights for the path ahead. Examine everything, so you can realize anything.


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