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Top markets for retailers revealed

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — A new report released this week unveiled the top go-to markets for retailers that are looking to boost their national presence.

In the ChainLinks/Terranomics’ 2011 U.S. national retail report, the healthiest retail market in the nation was Washington, D.C., followed by San Francisco; New York; Boston; San Diego; San Jose/South Bay, Calif.; Baltimore; Philadelphia; Seattle and Pittsburgh.

The report, composed by Garrick Brown — research director for ChainLinks Retail Advisors, a leading retail real estate advisory services organization — said that the Washington, D.C., market topped the list because of the retailer demand for the area. Additionally, Brown noted, shopping center vacancy levels are low, and unemployment rates in the area are lower than any other major market in the country.

The report also highlighted what could be expected from retailers this year, noting that retailer expansion is up 40% than what was tracked in the prior year. Brown said that CVS/pharmacy would be one of the most active retailers this year, with plans to open as many as 275 stores. Although Walgreens is expected to open 200 to 300 stores this year while boosting its fresh food offerings, CVS is said to be following suit by "exploring the concept of beefing up its fresh food offerings."

Other retail chains called out in the report were Dollar General — which reported in its financial earnings Tuesday that it plans to open 625 stores in 2011 (the company opened 600 stores last year) — and Walmart, which could open as many as 400 stores across North America over the next 30 months, Brown said.

Click here to read the full report.

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Safeway Foundation donates $100K to Japan disaster victims

BY Allison Cerra

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway’s charitable arm announced it would donate $100,000 and launch an employee matching pledge of up to $50,000 to help with the Japan earthquake and tsunami relief efforts.

The Safeway Foundation said the contribution will be distributed to the impacted area through the American Red Cross.

“The images of destruction that we’ve all seen are heartbreaking,” said Larree Renda, Safeway EVP and chair of the Safeway Foundation. “At this time of need, we are pleased to join with our employees, customers and communities as we collectively look for ways to make a difference.”

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Leonard Green mulls buying BJ’s

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — Private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners is considering an offer to acquire BJ’s Wholesale Club, according to a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Leonard Green, which already has a 9.3% ownership stake in the wholesale club operator, said in the SEC filing that it is examining confidential information provided by BJ’s as it evaluates an offer.

BJ’s revealed in February that it was considering putting the company on the sales block.

Leonard Green recently bid $1.3 billion to acquire 99 Cents Only and $1.6 billion for Jo-Ann Stores. It also was part of a group that acquired J.Crew for $3 billion.

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