The top stories today in retail include merchants in the U.K. are getting ready for another national lockdown as coronavirus cases continue to rise in that nation. While in the U.S., the mall companies, Philadelphia-based PREIT and Tennessee-based CBL & Associates both announced they would be filing for Chapter 11.
Amid a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, a new national lockdown was announced in the U.K. that will take effect on Thursday (Nov. 4) and continue through Dec. 2, according to new guidance issued by the government on Monday (Nov. 2).
“COVID-19 case numbers are rising rapidly across the whole of the U.K. and in other countries. We must act now to control the spread of the virus. The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home, to protect the NHS and save lives,” according to the statement. The new measures take precedence over local restrictions and require people to stay at home unless it is necessary and gather only with people they live with. Nonessential retail can only remain open for delivery and curbside pickup. Merchants providing essential goods and services — like grocery stores and garden centers — can remain open following COVID-secure protection guidelines.
Another wheel has fallen off in the troubled mall sector, as two real estate trusts have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The filings, both announced Sunday night (Nov. 1), came from Philadelphia-based PREIT and Tennessee-based CBL & Associates. PREIT, with 19 properties, had scored points as one of the companies focused on adding small businesses to their mall concepts in the Northeast, including the Fashion District in downtown Philadelphia. It has also been a proponent of experiential retailing, but the pandemic has hit the company hard. The filing is the next step in an agreement announced on Oct. 14, as PREIT entered into a new financial agreement with its bank lenders.
One of the executives in the best position to case the holiday season is Digital River CEO Adam Coyle. He serves as “the man behind the curtain,” running all the eCommerce infrastructure needed for some of the industry’s biggest players.
According to Coyle, the “Black Friday mentality” has been removed from this year’s holiday, replaced by a series of brand-specific events, and he sees that as a solid strategy in a year that desperately needs one. “I think you’re going to see brands try and create their own noise in the marketplace rather than being sort of a ‘me too’ on Black Friday,” Coyle said. “Everybody’s looking at what Amazon was able to achieve with Prime Day, and they want to create their own excitement. I think that mentality is trickling down, even to brands that don’t have the market share or the brand recognition that somebody like Amazon has.”