As Amazon sales soar and retail bankruptcies rise, industry execs remain ‘bullish’

While the retail industry has largely shifted to online in recent years, Tom McGee, CEO of the International Council of Shopping Centers, believes there is room for different kinds of product consumption.

“I think in a couple years we’ll stop talking about online vs. physical and we’ll talk about retail and retail will be you know multiple channels but they’ll really operate in a really synergistic way,” McGee said during an appearance on the FOX Business Network Monday.

At the forefront of the industry is Amazon (AMZN), which is launching its third annual Prime Day from 9 p.m. Monday to 3 a.m. Wednesday – a 25% longer window than it was last year.

Despite Amazon’s success, McGee says it does not completely dictate the industry’s future.

“Amazon has had incredible success but you know Amazon’s an $80 billion retailer in North America…$80 billion compared to almost $5 trillion of retail sales, I mean there’s a huge amount of sales that happen in this country that don’t happen because of Amazon but Amazon is clearly influencing the industry and driving it to change.”

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Here’s How Far Sears Holdings Has Fallen in 5 Years

When Sears Holdings (NASDAQ:SHLD) reported its first-quarter 2012 results, it saw a drop in overall sales, a decline in same-store sales, and negative earnings. The company reported that revenue decreased $270 million to $9.3 billion while same-store sales declined by 1.3% — 1% at Sears and 1.6% at the company’s Kmart locations. The company lost $0.31 per share from continuing operations, but offset that by selling $233 million in assets, producing $189 million in profits.

Selling off assets to make up for sales and revenue shortfalls would become standard operating procedure for the chain over the next five years, but in 2012, then-CEO Lou D’Ambrosio probably had no idea that the worst was yet to come. In fact, in the Q1 2012 earnings release he made comments that sound a lot like what current CEO Eddie Lampert says about each quarter now.

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Is Uber Killing the Limo Rental Industry?

The all popular app has created a kind of chaos in the transportation industry. All of the sudden just anyone could offer driving services at lower prices that registered and professional organizations and individuals ever could. This left a big mark on the transport industry as a whole, as reported by The Washington Post.

The number and the stringency of regulation which are in place for regular limo services cannot be compared to next-to-nothing regulation Uber is subjected to. This is why limo companies need to be smart, to adapt in order to survive this difficult time. Here are some useful tips which could ensure that your limo business stays afloat and competitive.


Limo companies which only have cars and limos have been hit the hardest by the rise of Uber. Some others, like Presidential Limo DC, have a diverse fleet of cars, transporter vans and buses. This helped protect these companies from the worst of the impact. Most limo companies have had to adapt since and diversify into new markets and find new sources of revenue. Creating or using the niche markets such as dedicated wine or beer tours or shuttle services is a good way to power through the turbulent period.

Create a Mobile App

Limo companies are facing a mobile app, so the outdated phone or website-based approach is no longer enough. People live fast and use their smartphones for just about everything. If they are planning to go somewhere, they are much more likely to pick up their phone and tap an app a few times, rather than googling a website of a limo rental company, visiting the website and then finally ordering a car. Simplicity and speed are the key advantages of dedicated apps, and it is the advantage Uber has had from the start. Some limo companies are investing money into their own apps in a bid to increase visibility and revenue.

Play your strengths

Limo rental services should to their best to emphasize the advantages of renting a limo over hiring an Uber. For a start, traveling in a limo brings a certain level of class and luxury which Uber cannot hope to match. Most vehicles in the fleets of limo rental agencies are equipped with a full bar, entertainments systems and other amenities. Even the cumbersome regulations imposed by the federal government may serve as an excellent marketing point. These vehicles must be safe, whereas with Uber you can never know how roadworthy the car is. The same applies to the drivers. Professional drivers go through rigorous training and testing, something Uber drivers are not obligated to do.

Make cancellation simpler

With most traditional limo services, cancellation is notoriously difficult and it requires notification hours in advance. Uber, on the other hand, offers instant cancellation, quickly and effortlessly. This is just another example of how Uber is in tune with the new lifestyle of people. When you are constantly on the move, your plans can change quite rapidly. You do not want to be anchored down by the obligation to know hours in advance when and where you will go. Some limo rental companies have gotten the message and have significantly shortened the obligatory cancellation time to under an hour, which makes it much more accessible.

The rise of Uber is nothing more than an example of how capitalism works. A revolutionary new technology has appeared, and everyone else needs to adapt or ultimately fail. Fortunately, limo companies are resilient and their management and owners have stepped up to the challenge and they have begun to incorporate some of Uber’s strategies into their business models, ensuring the continued survival of limo rental industry.

Reach out to Presidential Limo DC at:
2100 M St. NW # 170-193 Washington DC 20037

The running list of 2017 retail apocalypse victims

It’s no secret the retail industry is undergoing a transformational period that has many scaling back physical operations, shuttering stores, reorganizing mounting debt loads and in some cases ending up in bankruptcy court.

Distressed bond issuers in the U.S. retail and apparel markets are nearing recession levels, tripling in the past six years, according to a report released by Moody’s Investors Service. The report found 13.5% of Moody’s retail and apparel portfolio is distressed, compared to 16% during the Great Recession. Debt maturities are also headed toward record levels over the next five years and retailers are filing for bankruptcy at a record rate.

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U.S. auto sales fall for fourth straight month in June

According to this Reuters report auto sales have fallen for the fourth straight month.

Major automakers on Monday reported a fourth consecutive month of lower U.S. new vehicle sales for June and came in below analyst expectations, despite hefty consumer discounts and looser loan terms, providing fresh evidence that 2017 will fall short of last year’s record year for the industry.

Automakers’ shares rose, however, as retail sales to consumers were relatively stable at the U.S. automakers, with General Motors Co (GM.N) asserting that the industry was set for a stronger finish to the year.

Industry consultant Autodata put the industry’s seasonally adjusted annualized rate of sales at 16.51 million units, which was the lowest rate since February 2015. It came in below Wall Street expectations of 16.6 million vehicles and 2 percent lower than the June 2016 figure.

U.S. consumers continued to shun passenger cars in favor of larger pickup trucks, SUVs and crossovers. Passenger car sales were also hurt as some automakers, including GM, have moved to reduce relatively low-margin sales to rental agencies.

The U.S. auto industry has been bracing for a downturn after hitting a record 17.55 million new vehicles sold in 2016. A glut of nearly new used vehicles poses competition for new vehicle sales and automakers have relied increasingly on consumer discounts and loosened lending terms.

Microsoft to lay off THOUSANDS in global reorganization

More bad news for Microsoft. According to this Tech Crunch report the company is ready to lay off thousands of workers.

Microsoft is poised to layoff thousands of employees worldwide in a move to reorganize its salesforce.

A source with knowledge of the planned downsizing told TechCrunch that the U.S. firm would lay off “thousands” of staff across the world. The restructuring is set to include an organizational merger that involves its enterprise customer unit and one or more of its SME-focused divisions. The changes are set to be announced this coming week, we understand.

Microsoft declined to comment.

Earlier this weekend, the Puget Sound Business Journal, Bloomberg and The Seattle Times all reported ‘major’ layoffs related to a move to increase the emphasis on cloud services within Microsoft’s sales teams worldwide. Bloomberg said the redundancies would be “some of the most significant in the sales force in years.”

The reorganization looks to be a result of a change of leadership this past year. Executives Judson Althoff and Jean-Philippe Courtois took charge of Microsoft’s sales and marketing divisions following the exit of long-serving COO Kevin Turner last summer. Althoff, for one, has been public in his criticism of previous sales approaches, and he is keen to make Azure a central part of the focus.

Cities where student loan borrowers struggle with debt the most

CREDIBLE–If you’re struggling under a load of student loans, you already know how hard it is to make ends meet.

So it’s important for borrowers, especially recent grads, to think about the best places to live — the cities in which they’re not only likely to find a well-paying job, but also where rents and other living expenses aren’t so exorbitant so as to add to their pile of debt.

To figure out which cities student loan borrowers struggled the most in, we took a look at the top 23 most populous cities in the U.S. based on U.S. Census data. We then compared the average income of our borrowers in each of those cities with the average monthly housing payment and their average monthly student loan payment, to see how affordable student loan payments actually are for borrowers across the country.

The key indicator for affordability was how much of a borrower’s monthly income would go towards their student loan payments and monthly housing costs.

In the cities that topped our ranking for the most affordable cities for recent grads —  Dallas, Jacksonville, and Houston — borrowers have more of their income left over after paying their monthly loan and housing bills as compared to the other cities on the list.

But even in these cities, nearly 27 percent of borrowers’ average monthly income is eaten up by their monthly housing payment and their monthly loan payment alone. That doesn’t even take into account other expenses such as taxes, food, or transportation.

That’s not all that different from the cities at the very bottom of our list — San Jose, Fort Worth, and Boston — where more than 30 percent of borrowers’ average monthly income is dedicated to loan and housing payments.

The following are the average monthly loan payment, monthly housing payment, and annual income for the nearly 9,000 borrowers in the cities we analyzed:

Where borrowers struggle the most – compare all cities

The chart below visualizes the differences among all 23 cities we analyzed. Toggle through the metrics to see each city’s average borrower monthly payment, average monthly housing payment, average annual income, and average student loan and housing costs as a percentage of income.

The average student loan debt load among those who borrow is $37,173.

Among the cities that are the least affordable, monthly housing costs do tend to be slightly higher as compared to the other cities, but not by much. This makes sense — while affordability might be one factor that grads take into account when choosing where to live, a lack of affordability doesn’t necessarily prevent people from flocking to cities like San Jose, Fort Worth and Boston, where jobs are plentiful.Additionally, recent grads are likely to take into account a variety of other factors when moving to a new city. Smaller cities like Columbus or Jacksonville are less likely to be (or be near) hotbeds of industry or cultural attractions.

Seventy percent of college grads borrow to obtain their degree, and the average debt load among those who borrow is $37,173, according to publisher Mark Kantrowitz.

Credible offers borrowers the opportunity to compare student loan refinancing offers from multiple lenders with a simple, free tool. Borrowers who have refinanced their loans through Credible save an average of nearly $19,000 over the life of their loans.

Cities with highest student loan debt burden

1 San Jose, California $572 $1,661 $85,129 31.47%
2 Fort Worth, Texas $548 $1,209 $67,042 31.45%
3 Boston, Massachusetts $689 $1,226 $73,186 31.40%
4 Los Angeles, California $690 $1,383 $79,630 31.24%
5 Denver, Colorado $636 $1,231 $71,847 31.18%
6 New York, New York $831 $1,629 $94,806 31.14%
7 Indianapolis, Indiana $597 $812 $55,041 30.71%
8 San Diego, California $614 $1,340 $78,333 29.92%
9 San Antonio, Texas $579 $1,168 $70,630 29.69%
10 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania $701 $1,020 $69,757 29.61%
11 Seattle, Washington $638 $1,353 $81,293 29.39%
12 Phoenix, Arizona $528 $1,115 $67,431 29.24%
13 San Francisco, California $798 $1,684 $102,987 28.92%
14 Washington, District of Columbia $674 $1,461 $88,819 28.85%
15 Nashville, Tennessee $550 $1,047 $66,843 28.68%
16 Memphis, Tennessee $549 $980 $65,206 28.13%
17 Chicago, Illinois $694 $1,167 $80,198 27.85%
18 Charlotte, North Carolina $534 $963 $64,522 27.85%
19 Austin, Texas $587 $1,187 $76,478 27.84%
20 Columbus, Ohio $663 $956 $70,977 27.38%
21 Houston, Texas $628 $1,247 $83,528 26.94%
22 Jacksonville, Florida $671 $1,083 $78,982 26.65%
23 Dallas, Texas $688 $1,237 $88,001 26.24%

*Cities are ranked from highest to lowest student loan & housing costs as a percentage of monthly income (i.e. highest to lowest student loan and housing costs burden).


To conduct the analysis above, we used actual (but anonymized) data submitted by 8,981 applicants living in the 25 largest U.S. cities seeking to refinance student loan debt through the Credible platform.

We only considered borrowers with a monthly student loan payment of between $50 and $10,000, a monthly housing payment of less than $10,000, and those with an annual income between $1,000 and $300,000.

We limited our analysis to the 25 largest cities in the U.S. El Paso, Texas and Detroit, Michigan were omitted from our analysis due to insufficient student loan borrower data.

Etsy to slash hundreds of jobs

More bad news for the economy. According to this CNBC report online retailer Etsy will be cutting hundreds of jobs.

Etsy, the online market for handmade, vintage and craft items, will cut 15 percent of its workforce.

It’s the second wave of job cuts. Combined with a round in May, the reductions amount to about 22 percent of the staff, according to a press release.

About 230 jobs will be eliminated in the two cuts. Most layoffs this round will primarily be in the marketing, product management and general and administrative departments out of the company’s Brooklyn headquarters.

Etsy expects the latest severance charges and other exit costs to total $6 million to $8.8 million, according to a press release. It said the May cuts cost about $6.5 million to $8 million.

GOLDMAN SACHS: The death of malls will fuel ‘degentrification’

According to this Business Insider report there is a bright side to the death of malls…could we see a mom and pop comeback?

As nationwide chains gobbled up retail space across the country, they did so at the expense of smaller mom-and-pop shops.

But now, as the brick-and-mortar chains die a slow and painful death, small businesses could make a comeback by filling the void, according to two Goldman Sachs executives.

Speaking on the firm’s podcast, Kim Posnett, head of internet investment banking, and Kathy Elsesser, head of the healthcare and consumer and retail investment banking divisions, explained how exactly ecommerce is effecting physical retail stores.

“I think there will become a degentrification, for lack of a better word,” says Posnett. “We will see the rents come down, and mom and pops shops will come back in a much more curated, personal way that goes along these lines of creating great service and a sense of community, and a desire to support your community.”

Dying malls across the US are being transformed into churches

More bad news for retail. According to this Kate Taylor report dying malls are being turned into churches.

As the retail apocalypse sweeps the US, hundreds of malls are being deserted. But a blessed few are being transformed into something entirely different.

Empty and out-of-use malls are being revamped as fitness centers, offices, public libraries, movie theaters, medical clinics, and even churches.

“Only so many consumers are going to malls, and they will flock to newer ones,” June Williamson, a City College of New York architecture professor and the author of “Retrofitting Suburbia,” told Business Insider. “If developers build a new mall, they are inevitably undercutting another property. So older properties have to get re-positioned every decade, or they will die.”

Worshipping at a mall might sound strange but it’s a reality that thousands of people across the US are living.