Successful leasing requires retail properties to meet popular needs while also creating a singularly appealing experience. For many leasing experts, the best approach to providing that experience is through the emerging "Eater-tainment" phenomenon. The concept, coined to describe the fusion of eating, shopping and entertainment, is now standard operating procedure for forward-looking retail asset operators.
Experience is key to competing with online shopping so leasing managers are using entertainment and a vast array of retail and public resources to lure "virtual" customers to their brick and mortar sites. Centers that feature neighborhood gardens, organic food shops, seasonal outdoor seating and independent bakeries/cafes and wine bars are flourishing. When properties provide such choices, they are noting that consumers stay on site longer, return regularly and that the property brings in more meaningful revenues.
However, for "Eater-tainment" to be truly effective, centers must offer retail, restaurant and entertainment options that are both demographically and geographically site-specific. If local demand and taste is not readily apparent, it is important to determine what the community might be missing. Strategically-minded leasing managers are tapping into shopper, diner and tenant viewpoints to better understand their customers' attitudes and preferences.
Understanding the reality of the 2013 retail landscape is crucial as well. Consumers are more health conscious, brand savvy and well-informed than ever before. The globalization of luxury has made these consumers demanding in
other ways as well. In addition to luxury labels, they want what is special or exotic — the menu, boutique or art house cinema that is only accessible in their neighborhood and in their zip code. To paraphrase "Field of Dreams," when we are able to provide our centers with these retail commodities, we have truly built something to which people will come.
— Kelley Maher is senior vice president of leasing with Madison Marquette Retail Services. She is based in the company's San Diego office and can be reached at