Three retail malls reflect top trends; Modell’s faces challenging future; Captain Marvel dominates in anticipation of Avengers debut; Forever 21 partners with Postal Service; plus, other top brand licensing and retail news.

Licensing, marketing and retail expert/opinion leader Tony Lisanti provides insight and perspective for the top headlines of the week. “Licensing and Merchandising Report” is a must read for top execs who want objective, straightforward and authoritative analysis for the retailers, licensors and brands.

Three Retail Complexes Define Retail Trends 

Despite the continuing news of retail store closings and the challenges facing the nation’s malls, three very different retail destinations, which are located in the New York metro area, reflect various retail trends, several hundred new stores, and a look at future of retail.

From traditional type mall stores to experiential concepts to clicks going to bricks, these three retail complexes hope to capitalize on consumers desire for value, food, entertainment and, of course, top brands The three retail complexes are:

• The Shops & Restaurants at Hudson Yards, opened on March 15 in the heart of New York’s newest residential and entertainment west side neighborhood, which is close to Javits Convention Center. Developed by Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group, The Shops & Restaurants at Hudson Yards offers more than 100 stores, across seven levels. Retailers range from traditional department store Neiman Marcus to trendy fashion brand Forty Five Ten to familiar mall brands and new digital brands.

The restaurants include: TAK Room, a new restaurant concept from Thomas Keller Restaurant Group; Kāwi, a restaurant concept from Momofuku andChef Eunjo Park; Fuku, a fried kitchen concept from Momofuku; Belcampo, a signature restaurant and retail concept from Anya Fernald’s renowned organic meat company, which is their first location outside of California; Estiatorio Milos, a Greek seafood dining experience from Chef Costas Spiliadis; Hudson Yards Grill from New York chef, Michael Lomonaco; Queensyard, a European-inspired café from D&D London; Wild ink, a restaurant and bar from rhubarb, London’s premium hospitality group, and Chef Peter Jin; Citarella Gourmet Market, including a new eat-in dining concept dubbed Citarella Hudson Yards; Zodiac Room, Neiman Marcus’ signature fine dining restaurant; Bar Stanley, a full bar serving Stanley Marcus’ favorite bites; Cook & Merchants, a market with pre-made grab-and-go food options; Teak Tearoom, an all-day café with specialty teas, light fare and an evening tequila selection ; The Drug Store, a cocktail bar featuring drinks crafted with all-natural ingredients; plus Blue Bottle Coffee, Bluestone Lane, Bouchon Bakery, Dylan’s Candy Bar, Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee, Li-Lac Chocolates, Shake Shac, Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, and William Greenberg Desserts.

In addition, there is Mercado Little Spain, a 35,000 sq. ft. Spanish food experience by Chef José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup, in collaboration with fellow Spanish chefs Ferran and Albert Adrià, featuring three full-service restaurants; several bars; more than a dozen individual stalls serving a wide selection of tapas; as well as retail kiosks selling a variety of Spanish products and gift baskets.

• American Dream, the destination mall and entertainment complex, which has been in development originally as Xanadu for past 16 years, is scheduled to open April 19. Located in the New Jersey Meadowlands Sports Complex adjacent to MetLife Stadium, home to NFL’s Giants and Jets franchises, developer Triple Five obviously has a lot at stake and high hopes that this will be a successful venture.

The American Dream mall will contain 3 million sq. ft of retail space and more than 400 stores and restaurants. While it will feature many prominent traditional retailers, American Dream is also planning to showcase up-and coming designer brands. Entertainment, which will comprise more than 50% of total space, will include Big Snow America, an indoor ski and snowboard park; DreamWorks Water Park; Nickelodeon them park; NHL regulation ice skating rink; plus, luxury theatres.

• Showfields, which opened recently in New York’s NoHo neighborhood, features several dozen online brands on four floors. It’s encouraging for the retail sector to experience this type of growth. Each of these new developments is veritable showcase of top brands, dining establishments and entertainment that will not only cater to local residents, but also the tourists who visit the Big Apple. They also offer various new opportunities for the licensing sector.

“We curated The Shops & Restaurants with New Yorkers and the customer in mind – offering a diverse array of leading brands across categories and price-points, bringing new experiences, creating a suite of hospitality amenities never seen before in a shopping center, and embracing demand for differentiated dining and cultural experiences,” said Kenneth A. Himmel, president and CEO of Related Urban, the mixed-use division of Related Companies.

Modell’s Faces Possible Bankruptcy

The venerable New York based sporting goods retailer Modell’s Sporting Goods, which was founded in 1889, is facing a difficult future. Modell’s has retained Berkeley Research Group, according to the Wall Street Journal, as its financial adviser. The purpose is to explore restructuring options, including a possible bankruptcy.

The sporting goods retailer, which has more than 150 stores throughout the Northeast region, leverage its local niche for many years, but has faced intense competition from the specialty sector and the online sports retailers. The fact is that DICK’S Sporting Goods and Fanatics, as well as Walmart and other discount retailers, offer wider assortments, better brands, and more value, plus other factors that have seriously challenged the family-owned retailer.

Modell’s, which does have many high-traffic urban locations that would be well-suited for other retailers, faces serious challenges to reinvent the business especially as so much of the soft lines merch and sneakers in the sporting goods sector has shifted to online and DTC brand stores. Team apparel is readily available at online and mass retailers such as Walmart and Target satisfy the consumer need for everyday casual sports equipment and game accessories.

Disney and Marvel Films Dominate

In the same time frame that Captain Marvel was posting record box office stats, The Walt Disney Company and Marvel Studios released the official trailer for another upcoming blockbuster film, Avengers: Endgame, which will hit theatres on April 26.

Captain Marvel has already grossed nearly $200 million since it opened on March 9 in the U.S., according to box office mojo, and $550 million worldwide. And it will continue to impress in its second weekend as it approaches $300 million in the U.S.

Furthermore, Avengers: Endgame could hit $290 million, when it opens next month. While many execs don’t want to hear about Disney, the fact is—as I have pointed out in my 2019 outlook for the licensing sector—Disney will dominate. The strategy is to find the sweet spot in between the world’s largest licensor’s major franchise initiatives.

Sanrio Partners With Dental Biz

Sanrio and Hello Kitty will be making people smile as a result of its partnership with Los Angeles-based Parklane Dental.

This will be the first ever dental office in the U.S. to feature Hello Kitty and Friends and it’s consistent with the licensor’s strategy to create new experiences for the franchise.

This type of brand extension works well for this lifestyle franchise and could easily be done by other licensors for various brands. It’s worked for hotel rooms, for example, and could extend to day care centers, pediatrician clinics, and other professional type businesses.

“Sanrio’s mission is to build authentic connections with our consumers through our characters and experiences,” said Maureen Bergmueller, SVP of marketing and brand management. “The expansion of our experiential licensing initiatives allows us to provide meaningful touch points for the brand.”

Parklane Dental will feature a lobby decorated with artwork featuring Hello KittyGudetamaMy MelodyChococatBadtz MaruLittle Twin Stars, Keroppi, Pochacco, and Pompompurin as dentists and hygienists with toothbrushes, dental floss and other products. The dental office will also feature Individual Hello Kitty Gudetama treatment rooms.

The program with Parklane Dental joins Sanrio’s other experiential partnerships with Energy Karaoke and Tanaka Farms. Energy Karaoke offers Hello Kitty-, Gudetema- and Aggretsuko-themed karaoke rooms and foods; Tanaka Farms  focuses on programs to promote healthy eating and community support.

Merch of the Week: Forever 21 x USPS

A new fashion collection comprised of more than 20 skus featuring the U.S. Postal Service was unveiled this week by Forever 21. Global Icons was the agency of record. Here’s a look at a few pieces that have a wow factor:

Stat of the Week: Amazon Prime

In 2019, 51.3% of US households will be Amazon Prime members, according to a eMarketer Report. That’s an incredibly advantageous position for Amazon as the retailer continues to expand its product assortment in food, healthcare, and so many other PL brands it has introduced.