During the third week of May each year, 35,000 to 40,000 members of the International Council of Shopping Centers gather in Las Vegas to study the latest trends in retail real estate and then attempt to coerce retail developers and their brokers into landing specific retailers for their projects — and vice versa.
It is a time of awe for newer members of the ICSC and a time for meeting after meeting for more experienced brokers and developers. As they say, if you work in retail real estate, you’re a member of ICSC.
A larger gathering of retail and commercial developers, brokers and retailers doesn’t exist. It’s a place to engage retailers from around the globe and learn what changes are effective in creating newer, better retail environments for customers as well as property owners. The 2018 RECon did not disappoint.
The opening day of RECon offered seminars focusing on everything from future trends in retail real estate to preparing a pro forma leasing plan to investing in retail properties and structuring partnerships to the importance of drafting a lease that can make the investor additional income. Changes in malls in the United States also were discussed.
The second day of RECon saw the opening of the marketplace mall and leasing mall. The marketplace mall is a roughly 60,000-square-foot center filled with vendors selling products for retail developers and brokers. It’s quieter than the leasing mall and also provides places to sit and refresh.
The leasing mall is where the deal making occurs. Retailers, developers and brokers lease booth space to provide easy access to their clients and prospective clients.
The leasing mall consists of the Las Vegas Convention Center North Hall, North Hall upper level, Central Hall and South Hall upper and lower levels. The leasing hall covers about 400,000 square feet. and is visited regularly by approximately 35,000 ICSC members at any given time. There, brokers and developers visit specific retailers and retailers and brokers visit specific developers. It runs nonstop from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and a large number of retail real estate leasing deals originate at the leasing mall.
Several important changes to retail demographics are emerging as the retail industry develops.
First, the number of online sellers has cut into brick and mortar store sales, but not as significantly as most think. Approximately 95 percent of all retail sales still occur at brick and mortar stores, although such traditional retailers as
Wal-Mart and Starbucks increasingly market wares online.
Another emerging trend has changed retail real estate in a very significant way. That trend is shoppers’ desire for a great experience. Shoppers understand they can buy online and avoid lines. But online shopping doesn’t fulfill the shopper’s desire to receive truly exceptional service in a positive and attractive environment. Many retailers want to provide exceptional service in an environment that’s pleasant, easy to reach and with plenty of parking and such additional amenities as outside sitting areas, landscaping and places to meet family and friends. Yes, experiential shopping is here and will remain a major trend well into the future.