Timothy H. Watkins

Timothy H. Watkins

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Timothy H. Watkins

Blog Posts: Retail Law Advisor

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This blog keeps you connected to timely developments and emerging issues in retail law and covers a wide range of topics related to the retail, restaurant and consumer industry. We invite you to learn more about Goulston & Storrs and our Retail, Restaurant & Consumer Group.

Banner Year Expected For Holiday Retail Sales

This week’s news of former retail giants Sears and Kmart filing for bankruptcy is bound to spur headlines about the death of retail in the U.S.  However, multiple forecasts predict that robust 2018 holiday shopping will result in an increase in both in-store and online holiday sales as compared...
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Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, It’s Off to Co-work We Go…

The anxiety of the death of retail has given way to the retail renaissance. Experiential retail draws the shopper in for entertainment, pop-up stores capture the shoppers’ curiosity as they stroll past a storefront or see their friends’ posts on Instagram, and showroom retail gives the hesitant online shopper...
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On Retaildential Densification: Unpacking the Jargon and Trends of Adding Residential Uses to Shopping Centers

Retail follows rooftops. Few real estate adages are more axiomatic. Increasingly, however, the reverse is becoming true, and rooftops, or residential uses, are cozying up to retail . We’ve written previously that residential developers are increasingly finding shopping centers to be an irresistible tenant amenity . Whether residential uses...
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A Changed World: The Supreme Court Permits State and Local Taxation of Online Sales by Retailers with No State Presence

A Changed View of Online Sales Tax for Out-of-State Retailers
With the growing and evolving retail world, which we have  discussed   before , one thing had remained constant: retailers did not have to collect sales tax for online sales to states in which they had no physical presence. Thanks to the Supreme Court, that principle  had  remained a...
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Does Trademark Protection Extend to On-Line Advertising- Apparently It All Depends

It seems that nearly every day another retailer announces the large-scale closure of brick-and-mortar storefronts, with such household brands as Toys “R” Us and J. Crew, just to name two,  planning to shutter stores in 2018 . The significant challenges faced by traditional retailers are often attributed to the...
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Bringing Residential Uses to Existing Shopping Centers--A Win Win

Tenant curation, experiential retail , and social media-based marketing are thriving trends in today’s brick-and-mortar shopping center industry. Retail is not the only real estate asset class susceptible to trends, and a recent dominant trend in the multifamily residential sector may offer valuable opportunities for shopping center owners. For...
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Update: Tip Pooling by Restaurant Owners Remains in Flux

This past April, we reported on a recent Ninth Circuit ruling which upheld a 2011 Department of Labor (“DOL”) rule that prohibits restaurants from instituting tip-pooling arrangements that include both front-of-house staff that are customarily and regularly tipped (such as waiters, waitresses, bellhops, and service bartenders) and back-of-house staff...
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Medtail: Why Your Doctor Is Treating You in a Strip Mall

The retail universe is well aware of the hype that it is only a matter of time until brick and mortal retail succumbs to its online competitors .  However, despite the “doom and gloom” we generally see in headlines, retail has actually remained stable and, in fact, is thriving...
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A Changing Retail Streetscape: Rethinking Shopping Center Parking Lots

A recurring theme of this blog is that e-commerce , mobile devices , and evolving technology are changing the retail landscape. It seems that technology shifts are also poised to change the retail streetscape. More particularly, changes to the design and use of retail parking lots seems inevitable, and...
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Artificial Intelligence in Brick and Mortar Retail

Headlines about brick and mortar retail tend to be dominated by how these establishments are in decline while online retail is burgeoning. Fortunately for brick and mortar retailers, their demise is not preordained since tools from the online retail universe may also help them succeed. One such tool is...
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Retailers Grow Successfully by Introducing New Brands

As fashion retailers across the country jostle for market share in an ever-changing and ever-competitive marketplace, some retailers are trying to improve their bottom lines not by adjusting or expanding their offerings in each store but by opening differently branded stores separate from their flagship brands. Many retailers, especially...
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Tip Pooling by Restaurant Owners-Remains in Flux

Restaurant owners with tipped employees should take note of several recent court cases which may affect their ability to cause restaurant employees to participate in “tip pooling,” particularly in instances where back-of-house employees are included in such tip pooling arrangements. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allows employers to...
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The Ascendency of Accessibility: Surge in Website Lawsuits Continues

The proliferation of accessibility lawsuits under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has not abated. It is well-documented that ADA-related litigation increased by 37% from 2015 to 2016, which is symptomatic of long-term trends. Growth is fueled in part by litigants’ increased focus on internet-based technologies,...
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Mobile Payments: Exciting but Unknown

Mobile payment options are no longer the wave of the future. They are already here. It was projected that there would be almost 450 million mobile payment users worldwide by the end of 2016 . These users generated $60 billion in mobile payment sales in 2016 alone.  Certain studies...
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Paid Celebrity Endorsements in Social Media: The FTC Is Watching

How much trust do you place in celebrities who endorse products on social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube?  Do you stop to consider whether they are compensated for their efforts and, if so, how much? Studies have shown, for example, that influencers who have...
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Retailers: Embrace Virtual Reality Now (But Also Be Careful)!

We’ve previously addressed  the hype that it is only a matter of time until brick and mortar retail succumbs to its online competitors. While we concluded that brick and mortal retail is not in danger of immediate extinction, such retailers cannot ignore that today’s culture requires the incorporation of...
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Arriving Now: An Uber Alternative to Parking Validation

We previously wrote about how on-demand delivery services, such as Uber and its competitors Lyft and Postmates, have the potential to provide brick and mortar retailers with an answer to Amazon’s delivery service. Services such as UberRush now allow retailers to serve customers who are looking to skip the...
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Set Pickup Location: Uber Is Coming to Retail

On-demand delivery services, such as Uber and its competitors Lyft and Postmates, are increasingly taking steps that have the potential to offer a counterpunch to online retailers such as Amazon and may shake up the brick and mortar retail industry in a big way. UberRush: On-Demand Delivery Service Could...
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Sustainable Retail – Eco-Friendly Shopping at the Mall

Sustainability experts claim that “a good building- efficiency rating is quickly becoming the real estate equivalent of a motor vehicle’s miles-per-gallon rating and helps bring capital to owners and investors.” The National Real Estate Investor reports that investors and tenants alike prefer retail properties with sustainability measures in place....
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Marijuana Retailers - Are Private Clubs an Answer to Prohibitions on Public Use?

In jurisdictions where recreational marijuana is legal, many retail entrepreneurs and commercial landlords want to understand how and if marijuana can be consumed in retail establishments.  In jurisdictions such as Colorado and the District of Columbia, where the use and possession of marijuana for recreation is legal, consumption cannot...
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Pushing Back on Just-in-Time Scheduling

In September 2014, this blog asked the question: “Is Just-in-Time Scheduling Good for Business?”   Twenty months later, it seems like that question has been answered and our prediction that retailers may be legally required to alter their Just-in-Time scheduling practices has come true, at least in New York...
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Black Friday? Not This Year.

Black Friday is the infamous day that kicks off the official holiday shopping season in the United States. With many folks and students enjoying the day after Thanksgiving off, Black Friday is the perfect time to start working through lengthy holiday gift lists. Traditionally, retailers offer incredible sales, vying...
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The War for Talent: It’s On

It’s not exactly news that we have a war for talent in the U.S. Since the recession of 2008, business commentators have followed the U.S. population’s return to work. When unemployment was high and workers had no alternatives, they often stayed at jobs regardless of their level of satisfaction...
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A Case of Caution: the Effect of Redevelopment on Existing Mall Leases

In a follow up to our other posts regarding the White Flint Mall redevelopment, the jury has reached a verdict. Until recently, White Flint Mall in Bethesda, Maryland was a prime example of retail mall success. However, as the mall began to lose tenants and customers, its owner decided...
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Trends in Urban Grocery Store Development in Washington, D.C.

Continuing our coverage of trends in urban grocery store development , this post examines recent and ongoing activity in Washington, D.C., which is a leader in grocery-anchored, mixed-use redevelopment projects . It’s not by accident that DC leads in urban grocery store development. District leaders have undertaken a concerted...
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Summer Retail: Sales Tax Holidays, Pit Stops, and Where the Deals Are

Memorial Day has passed and while offices still hum with productivity, we can feel summer around the corner. With that in mind, we’ve explored what might be in store for the retail industry this summer. Although the usual break of seasons has extended somewhat -- we see back-to-school shopping...
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Coalition Loyalty Programs Spread to Retail Shopping In the U.S.

Seven major brands, including Macy’s, Rite Aid and ExxonMobil, recently joined forces to launch “ Plenti ,” a loyalty program that encompasses an entire team of retailers. American Express, which operates the program, previously established successful coalition loyalty programs in Poland, Germany, India, Mexico and Italy, and similar programs...
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Small Retailers Again Face Increased Health Insurance Costs

The owners of small retail businesses in Massachusetts have come to expect to pay higher health insurance costs than their counterparts in the rest of the country, and unfortunately last year was no exception. According to a recent survey by the Retailers Association of Massachusetts (“RAM”), premiums for small...
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The Pop-Up Regulatory Maze

Pop-up retail establishments, or “pop-ups,” generally refer to stores, restaurants, or events with a short duration. Pop-ups are typical for seasonal retail products, like Christmas or fireworks, but they have become common for designers (clothes, furniture, toys, etc.), restaurateurs (i.e., dinner clubs, food trucks), or other performers (concerts, parties)...
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Consumers Looking For Deliveries at the Speed of Light

With the holidays fast approaching, and sales during November and December accounting for an estimated 30% of retailers’ annual revenue , retailers are pulling out all the stops in the ongoing fight for customer dollars, with multiple retailers offering overnight and same-day delivery options and free shipping and one...
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