business news in context, analysis with attitude

…with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

• The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Macy’s is selling the top six floors of its 14-floor flagship store on State Street in Chicago to a private real estate fund, which plans to convert it to “dynamic, creative office space.”

The story says that the floors have been largely unused of late; Macy’s is getting $30 million in the deal.

While some say that the sale of almost half of what used to be the Marshall Fields store reflects the continuing tough times being experienced by bricks-and0-mortar retailers, there also is an argument - a tad desperate-sounding, I think, but an argument - that at least this sale will help Macy’s bottom line and provide some badly needed economic vitality to the space.

CNBC reports that Best Buy will close all of its small-format mobile phone stores, believing it can better and more profitably serve customers out of its traditional big box units.

There are about 250 of the small stores, each about 1,400 square feet in size. They represent about one percent of the company’s total sales.

• “More Americans than ever plan to hold on to their tax refunds this year rather than spending the money they get from the IRS,” according to the annual tax refund survey released today by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
The report goes on: “Of the 65 percent of taxpayers expecting a refund, 49 percent say they will put it into savings. That’s up from 48 percent last year and the highest level in the 12-year history of the survey. Meanwhile, 35 percent will pay down debt, in line with last year and the lowest level since 2016 — all far below the peak of 48 percent seen during the recession in 2009.

“Only 22 percent will spend this year’s refunds on everyday expenses, the second-lowest level in survey history after last year’s 21 percent.”
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