Disruption 2020: Retail Observations

by | 01 September 2020

It is no secret that the retail industry has been thrown for a loop. E-commerce has picked up substantially in the time of COVID-19, and after a number of retailers closed at the early outset of the virus, online shopping became the only option to find goods in some cases. There are serious questions about the long-term changes coming to retail. Below are a few observations on the retail market nationally, as well as in and around Boston. 

  • E-commerce sales increased 31.8% in the second quarter from the prior quarter, per the U.S. Department of Commerce, driving 16.1% of total sales. 
  • Lord & Taylor is closing its remaining stores, including its Back Bay location at the Prudential Center. 
  • As noted in a previous post, Simon Property Group is in negotiations with Amazon to take vacant or soon-to-be-vacant boxes from Sears and JCPenney. 
  • Simon’s current stock yield is 7.45% as of August 31. 
  • With most office workers remaining remote in the city of Boston, many lunch spots are closedand it’s hard to find a place to eat. 
  • Meanwhile, at Assembly Row in Somerville, it’s hard to find a place to park. A recent shopping trip for one of our employees turned into a 510-minute search for a parking spot. 
  • Another employee spent 20 minutes searching for parking in the Seaport recently. Another echoed that same experience the week prior. 
  • AMC opened many of its theaters on Thursday, and its CEO announced most sold out. The limited number of seats cost 15 cents each. 
  • Tax-free weekend resulted in some heavy traffic (standstills) on Route 24 approaching IKEA and Jordan’s Furniture. 
  • With college students back, Harvard Square was hopping again.