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7 Tenant Updates, Including Digital Dunkin’, Returns Kiosks at Ulta Beauty, and BJ’s and DoorDash

March 31, 2022

BJ’s: The company is the first wholesale club retailer to join DoorDash’s online marketplace and offer delivery for food products and other essential goods. BJ’s has 226 stores.

Dollar General: Sales growth at the chain hit a speed bump in its fiscal year 2021. Net sales grew 1.4% year over year to $34.2 billion, but sales at stores that have been open for at least one year declined by 2.8%, due in part to softer customer traffic, the company said. And cash is getting tighter. The company spent $335 million of its reserves aggressively buying back its shares, according to Pulse Ratings. Even so, Dollar General has big growth plans. In its fiscal year 2021, it opened 1,050 new stores, remodeled 1,752 and relocated 100. And that pace won’t slow in 2022; it plans to open 1,100 stores, renovate 1,750 and relocate 120. It also plans to nearly triple the number of Popshelf stores to 150.

Dunkin’: The chain has begun testing digital-only stores. A new shop in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, has three in-store kiosks instead of cash registers. Customers use the kiosks or Dunkin’s app to place orders. The 2,070-square-foot store features two drive-thru lanes and indoor seating.

Five Below: The company plans to take advantage of a Toys R Us-shaped hole in the marketplace by opening 1,000 stores over the next three years. It has about 1,200 now. The company, which sells goods priced at $5 and lower, plans to compete with dollar stores by catering to teens and young customers.

Montblanc: The luxury pen brand recently opened experiential stores in Belfast, Ireland, and New York City that allow customers to test pens before buying. It aims to convert more of its 62 boutiques to the format and said it sells more products in person than online. “Nothing ever will replace the attention to detail that a sales associate can give you by showing you all the details, all the stories,” Montblanc North America president Sylvain Costof told Retail Brew. “You need to be able to enjoy the shape of the pen,” he said. “You need to be able to enjoy the weight of the pen. You can buy a fantastic suit online, but you will never have the same experience [as when] you put it on your shoulder and it fits perfectly well.”

Party City: 2022 could be a big rebound year for occasion- and holiday-focused retailers. The waning of omicron and the easing of pandemic restrictions could unlock demand for Party City and similar retailers that cater to social events. According to Placer.ai, Party City’s 2021 weekly foot traffic confirms meaningful pent-up demand; through much of the spring and summer, as restrictions lifted and graduation celebrations commenced, visits rose by double-digits over 2019. However, once the delta wave hit, foot traffic trends declined. The retailer opened 95 stores in 2021 featuring a new design, and it plans to open another 100 to 125 such stores this year. According to Party City, new and remodeled stores are “averaging a mid-single-digit sales increase compared to control stores.”

Ulta Beauty: The cosmetics retailer will add kiosks for merchandise return service Happy Returns at 1,300 of its stores. Happy Returns requires no boxes, aggregates returns across merchants and ships them together. The deal will bring the number of Happy Returns kiosks in operation to more than 5,000 by the end of 2022, and 78% of Americans will live within 10 miles of one. PayPal acquired Happy Returns last May for an undisclosed sum. Cadillac Fairview similarly has added package-free ReturnBear kiosks to its malls across Canada.

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