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  • 8/13/2023

    Walmart turns its parking lots into retro playgrounds for customers

    Walmart summer rewind

    Walmart is again leveraging its huge parking lots to provide some summer fun for customers.

    The retail giant is launching “Summer Rewind,” a a 33-city, cross-country installation that lets customers travel back in time and do all the things they were never allowed to do in Walmart stores  — right in the parking lot of their local store.   In June 2020, Walmart partnered  with Tribeca Enterprises to temporarily turn 160 of its U.S. store parking lots into contact-free drive-in movie theaters as the COVID-19 pandemic put many vacation plans on hold. 

    Customers are invited to bring the whole family and immerse themselves in what the retailer calls “peak Walmart Y2K nostalgia.” First, they’ll walk through an oversized Smiley entrance, complete with Walmart’s OG emoji . From there, they’ll encounter a number of fun throwback activities, from taking be  turn at the Walmart vending machine for the chance to win an  surprise to walking into a freezer “speakeasy,” complete with frozen summer treats. 

    And for those who really want to feel like a kid again, they’ll  get to experience what it’s like to climb into the famous Walmart ball cage. They can also jump into a life-size toy box for a fun photo opp., play with an oversized Lite Brite installation and contribute to a giant paint project designed to take them straight back to art class.

    Walmart will kick off its Summer Rewind road tour on Aug. 18 in Austin, with stops in cities throughout the country during  the next several weeks. Go to walmartsummerrewind.com to see the complete list of locations and other information on the event.  

     

  • 8/13/2023

    C-store chain Buc-ee’s to enter Ohio

    Buc-ee’s is making its move north as it continues to expand its footprint.

    Based in Lake Jackson, Tex., Buc-ee’s is known for its smiling beaver mascot, massive stores and amenities, which range from its signature clean restrooms and showers to an extensive array of merchandise and specialty food options. The company is planning to open its first store in Ohio, in the Dayton suburb of Huber Heights.

    The Ohio location was announced by Jeff Gore, the mayor of Huber Heights, on his Facebook page.  

    “The rumors you have heard are true! The very first Buc-ee’s in the state of Ohio is coming to Huber Heights,” Gore wrote in his post.

    In addition to Ohio, Buc-ee’s is entering Colorado, with its first store opening there later this year, in Johnstown, along Interstate 25 between Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado.

    In June, Buc-ee’s opened its largest store to date, a 74,000-sq.-ft. location in Sevierville, Tenn., close to tourist-attraction Dollywood. But it won’t hold the title all that long.  A 75,000-sq. Buc-ee’s is currently under construction in Luling, Tex.

    The company is also planning an 80,000-sq.-ft. site in Central Florida, in Ocala, with an opening expected in 2025.   The Florida location — the company’s third in the Sunshine State — will feature 120 fueling stations  and 750 parking spots. 

    According to a report by Placer.ai foot traffic data, Buc-ee’s is outperforming the already strong c-store category nationwide. Its January 2023 visits were 112.1% higher than three years prior.

    Founded in 1982, Buc-ee’s opened its first non-Texas location in 2019, launching o an aggressive expansion into additional Southern states.  It currently operates more than 50 locations in Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

  • 8/10/2023

    Rally House in expansion mode

    Rally House operates more than 160 stores in 17 states.

    After opening some 45 stores in 2022, Rally House continues to expand its footprint. 

    The Kansasi-based,  family-owned sports apparel and gifts retailer has opened a second location at Grapevine Mills in Grapevine, Tex.  The opening comes after Rally House set a record for itself in early August with the opening of  seven stores in five states over one weekend, including its first location in Arizona. (Locations at end of article.) 

    Rally House specializes in apparel, hats,giftsand homedécorrepresenting local NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and MLS teams as well as locally inspired items.  The new Grapevine Mills location will be dedicated to collegiate teams, while the original Rally House store will focus on pro teams.

    The new location carry a wide array of popular college teams, including  the Texas Longhorns, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Texas A&M Aggies and more. It will also feature an assortment of local Texas merchandise as well as items representing local high schools.

    Here are the seven locations that Rally House opened earlier this month.

    Baytowne Square, Champaign, Ill.;

    Fox Valley Mall, Aurora, Ill.;

    St. Clair Square, Fairview Heights, Ill.;

    Coralville, Iowa;

    Manhattan, Kan.;

    Sooner Mall, Norman, Okla.; and

    Arizona Mills, Tempe, Ariz.

    Rally House operates more than 160 stores in 17 states.

     

  • 8/10/2023

    Monthly construction materials prices stable in July — with some exceptions

    Commercial construction materials prices are 2.5% lower than a year ago.

    Monthly construction materials prices stable in July — with some exceptions

    The easing of supply chain challenges and a sluggish global economy has brought stability to construction materials prices. 

    Overall construction materials prices were unchanged in July relative to the previous month, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Producer Price Index data. Commercial construction materials prices were also flat in July, after falling 1.4% in June.

    “Goods prices continue to stagnate in the context of improved supply chains and a sluggish global economy,” said ABC chief economist Anirban Basu. “It has been the improvement of supply chains that best explains recent positive economic outcomes in the U.S. economy. As supply chains have normalized, unmet demand has been more readily satisfied.”

    Overall construction input prices are 3.1% lower than a year ago. Prices, however, increased in all three energy subcategories. Natural gas prices rose 11.0% in July, while crude petroleum and unprocessed energy materials prices increased 8.4% and 8.0%, respectively

    With the exception of energy prices, which are heavily influenced by a cocktail of geopolitics, weather and investor frenzy, construction materials prices should be reasonably stable during the months to come, according to Basu. 

    Another exception may be construction equipment prices. The price of equipment expanded 1.6% on a monthly basis in July and nearly 10% over the past year. 

     “Many contractors continue to complain about lengthy lead times for equipment as the nation continues to expand spending on infrastructure,” said Basu.

    Associated Builders and Contractors is a national construction industry trade association established in 1950 that represents more than 22,000 members.

  • 8/10/2023

    Consumer sentiment takes slight dip in August but still close to recent high

    The share of searches for $20 per hour wages is on the rise.

    Consumer sentiment cooled a bit in the dog days of summer but was still significantly higher compared to the year-ago period. 

    The University of Michigan’s index of consumer sentiment fell to preliminary August reading of 71.2 after hitting a 22-month high of 71.6 in the prior month. The August reading is 22% than a year ago.  

    Consumers’ views on current conditions rose to to 77.4 from 76.6 in July, while the expectations index fell to 67.3 from 68.3. 

    The gauge of one-year inflation expectations inched down to 3.3% this month from 3.4% in July, showing stability for three consecutive months. The five-year inflation outlook fell to 2.9% from 3.0% in the prior month. 

    The report was released on the heels of the  Consumer Price Index report, which showed that prices rose 3.2% annual pace in July, up from June’s 3% pace, with food and shelter costs driving up the increase.

     

    "Consumer sentiment was essentially unchanged from July, with small offsetting increases and decreases within the index," said Joanne Hsu, surveys of consumers director, University of Michigan.  "In general, consumers perceived few material differences in the economic environment from last month, but they saw substantial improvements relative to just three months ago," she said. 

     

  • 8/10/2023

    Qdoba to double its footprint to 1,500 sites with rapid expansion

    Qdoba operates 750 locations -- with more to come.

    Qdoba is going into overdrive and betting on franchising to grow its footprint.

    The quick-service Mexican restaurant, which currently has 750 locations, expects to double in size during the next decade. Qdoba plans to open 40 new restaurants this year, followed by 60 in 2024. Starting in 2025, it will open 80-plus locations.

    In August 2022, Qdoba was acquired by Butterfly Equity from Apollo Global Management. The chain was subsequently merged with Butterfly Equity’s Lemonade and Modern Market Eatery banners to form Modern Restaurant Concepts. (All three operate as separate brands.) 

    "Qdoba is an exceptionally well positioned brand in one of the most attractive restaurant categories,” said John Cywinski, CEO of Modern Restaurant Concepts, parent company of Qdoba.We possess long-standing momentum, strong unit economics, a compelling operating model, an extraordinarily passionate guest following, and significant untapped geographic potential.

    Qdoba is currently 80% franchised with 85 franchise partners in the U.S.  

    “We are in the process of aggressively accelerating new restaurant development in partnership with existing and new franchisees,” Cywinski added. “Once our pipeline is fully established, we expect to sustain a 10% annual growth rate through new restaurant development.”

    In keeping with its selective refranchising strategy, Qdoba recently sold 77 company-owned restaurants to existing franchisee, North Fork Fresh Mex, which now operates 97 Qdoba locations Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Virginia. North Fork has also committed to build 73 new restaurants during the next seven years and is now the chain’s largest franchise partner. 

    Qdoba has now posted 10 consecutive quarters of positive comp sales growth, with average unit volumes of $1.6 million. 

     

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