Every year, as RECon approaches, the editors at France Media begin to pre-plan our adventure to Las Vegas by studying the program, event, exhibitors and, of course, the party invitations. We generally have one editor covering the sessions, one covering meetings with potential, current and future clients, and at least one roving editor seeking out stories on the leasing hall floor. Here’s what we are looking to discover at this year’s convention:
•New developments.There are a number in the industry, despite whatever headlines you have been reading. There’s Columbia Development’s Fenton (North Carolina); Robert B. Aikens & Associates’ Five & Main (Michigan); Price’s Bluhawk (Kansas); Steiner’s Lake Nona Town Center (Florida); RaCo’s Celebration Pointe (Florida); and a host of others I could name. We enjoy meeting with developers and finding out exactly who is creating what.
•Redevelopments.There are so many redevelopments going on in retail real estate as we watch the sector reinvent itself. If you want a clue as to how much redevelopment is in play, we have seven articles in the May issue of Shopping Center Business that talk about renovation, redevelopment and reinvention. It’s a fascinating, inspiring time to be in retail real estate development, and we are excited to see the creativity in these projects on display at RECon.
•Grocery.Since Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market last year, grocers have introduced and improved a suite of services — from lockers to delivery services to pick-up lanes — designed to make e-commerce more adaptable for grocery retailers. We know this will be a big trend in our meetings this year, and we look toward covering this more.
•Experience.This is the word of the year — or maybe the past few years. Consumers want to go to places that are not cookie-cutter, with stores and restaurants they can’t find every day. They’re also looking for entertainment options that are improved, or different from what they’ve experienced in the past. We’re excited to see the new technologies and prototypes at the show.
•Community Creation.Centers are striving to become third places, between home and work, where people spend time. Many retail center owners have realized that if properties are incorporated into our daily lives, they become part of our lives. That means mixed-use, like office, medical office, residential and hotels are coming to traditional retail centers as part of redevelopments. In a lot of cases, cities and municipalities are getting involved to make sure they have a hand in ensuring that the redevelopments of retail centers have what their residents need and want in their daily lives. We look forward to seeing a number of projects — and cities — where these types of innovations and collaborations are taking place.
•Decreasing Vacancy.While there are a number of exciting projects underway, overall construction activity has been down, which contributed to the nationwide retail vacancy rate of 5.1 percent at year-end 2017, as Scott Holmes of Marcus & Millichap reported in the last issue ofRetail Insightand he mentions in the May issue ofShopping Center Business. This is the lowest national vacancy rate in more than 18 years, he notes, and he predicts that it will decline another 10 basis points by December.
— Randall Shearin, Editor, Shopping Center Business
This article originally appeared in the Retail Insight newsletter by Shopping Center Business. This is a six-week publication created in conjunction with our content partners, which sponsor the newsletter, leading up to ICSC RECon and including post-conference coverage. Click here to subscribe.