Weekend News & Notes

Here are some news and notes on retail and retail real estate from around the Web over the weekend.

  • According to the Dallas Morning News Blockbuster says it remains committed to brick-and-mortar stores. The company has been refurbishing locations. It's relabeling its locations "Blockbuster Media" rather than "Blockbuster Video".
  • Bloomberg reports that Starbucks is pushing its landlords to grant 25 percent reductions in its leases.
  • The Chicago Tribune reports on Sears' latest gambit--a concept called MyGofer, a drive-through general store that is supposed to be a marriage between online shopping and bricks and mortar. There's some more information on the concept at Sears' site.
  • BNET Retail details how Best Buy execs are attempting to push the firm internationally.
  • Deal Junkie argues that access to commercial credit is not frozen. He's correct in the sense that non-CMBS lenders are still out there and doing deals. He expanded on that post here, looking at Treasury Department data. However, what lenders tell us is that underwriting requirements have changed and they've become much more conservative in loan-to-value ratios. Further, those lenders aren't moving to aggressively pick up the market share that the CMBS sector took in recent years. Also, CMBS may account for only 25 percent of the roughly $3.5 trillion in total outstanding commercial real estate debt, but in recent years conduit lenders represented more than 25 percent of the market. This chart shows the volume of overall commercial real estate debt by type expiring year by year. Yes, many lenders remain active. But something has to replace the lost CMBS volume and traditional lenders are not stepping up their activity enough to fill that breach.
  • According to Calculated Risk, the CMBS market lost $75 billion in market capitalization in two days after the S&P request for comment on changes to their U.S. CMBS rating methodology was issued.
  • Time is the latest entrant in the mainstream media's recent spate of "commercial real estate is doomed" stories.
  • Three Reuters stories are of interest to the sector. Credit Suisse has downgraded the U.S. mall anchor sector. Some retailers are taking advantage of the lull in sales in the U.S. to prep international pushes. Lastly, here's a recap of the latest in GGP's bankruptcy. Some lenders are fighting the inclusion of some properties in the filing.
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