Southern California

Connect Retail West Recap: “Alive, Well, & Here to Stay”

January 25 3 min read

Connect Retail West, held Tuesday, January 22, 2019 at The Resort at Pelican Hill, drew a crowd of 300 to hear from the innovators in the retail space. The afternoon discussion featured panels on the future of malls, where investment sales are headed, experiential retail that every customer wants to come back to, and a special keynote conversation with industry icon Sandy Sigal of Newmark Merrill.

Today, we’ll hit the highlights of yesterday’s conference, but look for deeper dives of each panel in the coming days on Connect CRE.

It Starts with Service featured a Special Presentation by Caruso’s Vincent J.Burneikis, Vice President of Learning, Development, & Hospitality, on what it takes to create the experience in retail centers that every customer wants to come back to. That is accomplished by capturing “heart share and market share.” He points out, one of the inherent needs of people is to feel the energy of the street, a secret Caruso has uncovered and incorporates into its properties. In doing so, the retail developer and owner has achieved success few others have. That includes centers that capture longer shopper visits, generate higher per-visit spending, and places where 92% of shoppers purchase something.

The guest experience at a Caruso property is encapsulated in three elements: product, service and atmosphere, all of which must work together to create the right mix. By acutely focusing on customer service, Caruso helps give people the gift of time.

The Future of Malls panel focused on redevelopment, reinvestment and reinvisioning. Developers and investors shared how they are changing retail spaces, and thinking way outside the box to create new spaces where we shop, eat, work, and play.

Festival Companies’ Robin Bhalla predicts “Amazon is here to stay. I don’t see that as problem. They’ve helped retailers adapt and step up their games.” Today, that typically means focusing on placemaking, creating connectivity, and giving people a reason to get off the couch.

Simon Property Group’s Matt Sebree points out a strategy today may often involve exploring what digital native brands fit a market or mall. If an owner can help a digital native brand make the successful transition into a brick-n-mortar location it means more opportunities for everybody. If they don’t make the shift, it may mean they shut down online channels, too. But, if they are able to make the jump, he says, “there’s more [stores] open to buy [from in] our portfolio and for everybody” and that helps to evolve the retail sector.

GPI Companies’ TR Gregory agreed it is no secret that e-commerce is here to stay, though the initial fear surrounding it is evolving into new opportunities and synergy for retailers. As online retailers open up brick-n-mortar stores, it becomes a new reality and more opportunities. That’s especially true if they do fulfillment for online orders from those locations. He notes that’s a good thing because it brings people to a property.

Stream Realty Partners’ Michelle Schierberl notes she expects to see more alternative uses emerge across the retail landscape. An example of that is San Diego’s Horton Plaza, which is being converted from a retail center to creative office. The days of 100% retail could give way to a residential component being introduced or a hospital facility being added to a center, she says.

Greenberg Glusker’s Craig Coan pointed out that he’s heard that retail properties in China only contain 30% retail space, with the balance being occupied by such uses as kids tenants, like tutors or healthcare services.

The Up, Up, Up? Investment Sales in 2019 and Beyond panel explored what’s next. That included putting the recent market volatility and changing trends into perspective as the year of consolidation, dispositions, and redevelopment unfolded. Investment sales leaders shared what they see for the future and the next cycle.

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By: Dennis Kaiser

SOURCE: Connect Media