Openings, Closings, & Other Key Industry Highlights

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May 17, 2023

According to reports, six of the unopened Amazon Fresh stores located in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul, MN metro area are now available for sublease. The Company never officially announced it would open the stores, but its name was on permits for at least one of the buildings. While Amazon has not publicly commented on these locations, CEO Andy Jassy previously said that the Company is going to freeze expansion efforts for the Amazon Fresh banner. According to the website, there are currently 44 Amazon Fresh locations in operation in California (18), Illinois (9), Virginia (5), Washington (5), Maryland (2), Pennsylvania (2), New Jersey (1), New York (1), and Washington D.C. (1).

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In an effort to expand its supply chain network, Dollar General has opened its first ground-up, dual facility in Blair, NE and two permanent regional distribution hubs in Newnan, GA and Fort Worth, TX. The 800,000 square-foot Nebraska facility stores both dry goods and refrigerated items, and the two permanent warehouses will serve as intermediary points between import locations and Dollar General’s distribution center network.

The Company also announced expansion plans at existing facilities in Jonesville, SC and Amsterdam, NY. Dollar General invested $45 million in the Jonesville distribution center to add 250,000 square feet, completed this spring. For the Amsterdam facility, the Company plans to close on the property by Fall 2023 to build a 170,000 square-foot DG Fresh facility to complement the Company’s traditional distribution center that opened in 2019, with construction expected to begin in 2024.

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Grupo Commercial Chedraui, parent of Smart & Final, El Super, and Fiesta Mart, will open two new El Super banner stores in Las Vegas, NV and San Ysidro, CA, and add three new Smart & Final locations in the California cities of Madera, Lompoc, and Lancaster. There are also plans to remodel at least 40 existing stores and to develop a 1.4 million squarefoot distribution facility in Rancho Cucamonga, CA that will increase its current Southern California distribution and warehouse capacity by 50%. The new Rancho Cucamonga distribution facility will integrate distribution operations from five smaller Southern California warehouses, providing additional space to support sales growth and the development of new stores. 

In the Bed Bath & Beyond, DIP case, the Debtors filed a motion to set June 30 as the deadline to file proofs of claim based on prepetition claims, including requests for payment under section 503(b)(9) of the Bankruptcy Code. A hearing to approve the motion is set for May 31. 

Warby Parker plans to open 40 new stores this year, bringing the total to 240 locations. So far it has opened six stores during the first quarter, including its 13th in New York City, ending the quarter with 204 units. Looking to the long-term, management believes the Company can open 900+ stores in the U.S. For FY23, Warby Parker is expecting revenue of $645 million – $660 million, representing growth of 8% – 10%. 

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Dry Goods, the young women’s fashion specialty banner owned by Von Maur, plans to open 11 locations this year, including its first stores in Alabama, Arkansas, and New York. These openings will bring the chain’s store count to 81. Dry Goods has been revving up growth in recent years, with 10 openings in 2019 and five to seven openings annually on average since then. Dry Goods currently operates 70 stores in 19 states, while Von Maur operates 37 department stores across 15 states. 

In the Party City, DIP case, the Debtors also identified an additional 17 stores which will close, bringing the total closures to 59. The hearing to consider approval of the Disclosure Statement and Plan of Reorganization was rescheduled to June 1 from May 17. 

We are closely monitoring the bankruptcy case. Click here to request case updates and store closings.

This month, Sprouts Farmers Market opened new locations in Las Vegas, NV and Manassas, VA. Later this summer it is planning to add two new locations in Florida; a Bradenton store is due to open on June 30, and a Fort Myers location is expected to open on July 21. For FY23, the Company, which operates approximately 380 stores in 23 states nationwide, intends to open 30 new stores and close 11 underperforming locations. 

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Sweetgreen is opening its first store powered by automation in Naperville, IL. The pilot location debuts a new proprietary technology solution called Sweetgreen Infinite Kitchen, which comes from the Company’s acquisition of Spyce in August 2021. Spyce is a Boston, MA-based start-up specializing in developing automated solutions for the restaurant industry. Sweetgreen says its new automated store format allows for quicker pace, precise portioning, and increased accuracy, creating efficiencies to allow associates to focus on fresh prep and customer service.

Sweetgreen, which went public in November 2022, is looking to double its footprint in the next three to five years, and it sees the potential for 1,000 locations by the end of the decade. The Company opened a net 36 stores in 2022, and plans to add another 30 to 35 units this year. 

Noodles & Company’s 1Q23 comps increased 6.4%, comprised of a 6.9% increase at Company-owned restaurants and a 4.1% increase at franchise restaurants. The Company opened three new Company-owned restaurants during the quarter, but also closed three underperforming locations, ending with 461 units. Digital sales accounted for 54.5% of total revenue, down from 58.4% last year. 

In the Christmas Tree Shops, DIP case, the Court issued interim authorization on May 10 for the Debtors to:

- Engage Restore Capital to manage sales of inventory at 10 closing stores (this began May 14 and will conclude June 30).

- Assume a consignment agreement with Restore that increases the amount of authorized inventory to sell to $20 million from $15 million.

We are closely monitoring the bankruptcy case. Click here to request case updates and store closings.

On May 9, Tempur Sealy International signed a definitive agreement to acquire Mattress Firm Group in a cash and stock transaction valued at $4 billion. The transaction is expected to be funded by $2.70 billion of cash and $1.30 billion in stock consideration. It is expected to close in 2H24, subject to customary closing conditions and applicable regulatory approvals. Mattress Firm operates over 2,300 retail locations. 

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Publix has opened four stores in Florida this month, including 48,000 square-foot units in Kissimmee, Jacksonville, and Tallahassee and a 55,000 square-foot unit in Stuart. Another two Florida stores in Melbourne and Neptune Beach are slated to open this week. The Company operates 63% of its more than 1,300 locations in Florida, with its remaining stores located in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.

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The Cheesecake Factory opened two new restaurants in 1Q23 and continues to expect to open 20 to 22 locations during the year, including five or six namesake units, five or six North Italia units, 10 FRC restaurants, and three to four Flower Child locations. 

Last week, Meijer opened a new 159,000 square-foot supercenter in Elkhart, IN, bringing its store count to 42 in the state. The Company operates more than 500 locations across Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, and Wisconsin. 

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Franchise Group inked a deal under which members of its senior management team led by CEO Brian Kahn (the Management Group), in financial partnership with a consortium that includes B. Riley Financial, Inc. and Irradiant Partners, will acquire the 64% of the Company’s issued and outstanding common stock that the Management Group does not presently own or control. The transaction has an enterprise value of $2.60 billion, including the Company’s net debt and outstanding preferred stock.

Upon completion of the proposed merger, Franchise Group will become a private company and will no longer be publicly listed or traded on NASDAQ. Franchise Group’s management team, including Brian Kahn, is expected to continue to lead the Company. Franchise Group plans to continue to operate its current portfolio of brands.

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Ahold Delhaize’s Food Lion banner completed the remodel of 24 stores in Wilmington, NC, and expects another five to be completed soon. The Company invested $50 million to remodel the stores as well as add pickup/delivery options. Food Lion operates more than 1,100 stores across 10 Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states

Weis Markets will begin construction on a 64,000 square-foot store in Middletown, DE this fall. The supermarket will offer a pharmacy and a Weis 2 Go online grocery pickup station. The store is slated to open in 2025. Weis operates three locations in Delaware in Millville, Millsboro, and Lewes. 

Carrols Restaurant Group’s comps for 1Q23 were up 11.7% at Burger King and 9.5% at Popeyes (the Company franchises both chains). Burger King closed three stores and ended the quarter with 1,019 units, while Popeyes’ store count remained unchanged at 65.

Grocery Outlet is expanding into Ohio, with plans to build a new location in the northeastern city of Boardman. The Company stated in a recent SEC filing that opening new stores is a primary component of its growth strategy. In 1Q23, it opened three new stores, ending the quarter with 444 stores in eight states. 

 Click here to request a sample list of future store openings. 

Natural Grocers By Vitamin Cottage will close two underperforming locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth, TX metro area. Storewide closing sales began May 15, and the stores will officially go dark on June 27. The Company will continue to operate four other locations in the region. 

The below retailers recently released their earnings reports. To request more information on these companies, or to discuss the financial performance with a retail industry expert, please click here.

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This information contained in this newsletter is compiled from sources which Market Service Inc. does not control and unless indicated is not verified. Its contents are not to be divulged. Market Service Inc., its principals and writers do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the information provided nor do they assume responsibility for failure to report any matter omitted or withheld because of their negligence.