Here are some news and notes on retail and retail real estate from around the Web today.
- Reuters has two stories on the effect of S&P's planned ratings cuts go. The first story says the cuts will halve the number of commercial mortgage-backed securities eligible for TALF to $122 billion from $252 billion and cites Richard Parkus, an analyst at Deutsche Bank. A separate Reuters report, meanwhile quotes RBS Securities, but comes to the same conclusion.
- The retail scene in Great Britain appears to be "past the worst", according to Cushman & Wakefield. The firm's quarterly report on vacancy rates shows that the proportion of empty stores has risen by 0.7 per cent to 11.8 per cent nationally.
- Commercial real estate was discussed at a TARP hearing in Congress. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., noted that an estimated $400 billion of commercial real estate loans are coming due this year, with another $300 billion due in 2010 as a reason for concern.
- We posted an update on General Growth's bankruptcy. The story summarizes recent developments--particularly the fact that some lenders are challenging the inclusion of some malls into the filing. The story also notes that William Ackman has been added to the REIT's board of directors. Ackman has been a controversial figure of late with his involvement in both the GGP saga and his attempts to influence Target's strategy. In a post earlier today, Seeking Alpha challenged some of Ackman's claims on GGP's value.
- On the quirky side, Supermarket News noted that Whole Foods offered free rickshaw rides to shoppers in New York today. Given the amount of rain we had in the city, they might have been better off offering free kayak rides.
- David Stejkowski commented on the huge drop in retail real estate sales in Chicago. According to data from Real Capital Analytics, only two retail properties traded hands in the Chicago area in the first quarter--a 99 percent drop from the same period in 2008.