Kenneth Park Architects

5 Takeaways from RECon 2016

ICSC Recon Leadership

Every spring, the already thriving and convention-friendly city of Vegas becomes just a little busier as the retail industry descends upon the city of Lights. This year’s behemoth of a convention, ICSC’s annual global Real Estate Convention (RECon) returned from May 23 to 25, with over 36,000 attendees, the highest on record. KPA was right there with our executive team, checking out the action on the floor and flying from meeting to meeting. Though the convention is THE time for deal-making, it’s also a time for reflection upon and discussion of the state of the industry. Too busy handshaking and closing deals to sit in on the speakers? We’ve got you covered! Below, here are 5 takeaways from the week that you might have missed.

1. Experience is King

“Shopping centers seem to be moving toward a paradigm shift,” said Claude Sirois, president of Ivanhoé Cambridge Retail. “We used to build buildings filled with products that consumers would buy. Now, we’re all moving toward becoming a collection of experiences.”¹

Enough said.

2. Mixed-Use is an essential part of that

What may have been a necessity arising from the Great Recession is now a fundamental strategy to transition retail from a mere cash transaction to a bonafide, well-rounded, and engaging activity. It’s no longer about leasing out prime real estate to just apparel brands, but to mix that up with an Equinox, a DryBar, Sephora, and Eataly. This way, when you step out of the gym in your new athleisure gear, you can drop by a DryBar to turn those sweaty locks into a perfect coif, pick up a replacement for that tinted moisturizer and grab a bit at Mario Batali’s buzz-worthy food emporium.

3. Tech may just put you ahead

Technology has been a key and much discussed topic, as retailers, in the face of hyperbolic “death of retail by e-commerce” talk, look towards the growing promise of digital enhancements to create that perfect in-store experience.  Whether the conversation is about how to best leverage data, the effectiveness of beacons, the necessity of mobile apps, the future of virtual reality, or what exactly is the Internet of Things, retail x technology is the hottest collaboration around.

4. But it’s not all e-commerce (think omnichannel)

In that vein, today’s retail landscape is no longer a dichotomous e-commerce vs. brick-and-mortar discussion. Rather, there’s a hot new buzzword being thrown around and that is omnichannel. As traditional e-tailers such as Warby Parker and Bonobos throw their weight behind physical stores while traditional retailers go bricks-to-clicks, we’re all realizing that both an online and offline experience is necessary. For developers in the shopping center and/or street location game, that’s a positive development as well. Believe me, you’ll know omnichannel is in it to win it when Amazon opens physical bookstores. Oh wait, that’s happened already.

5. The Coasts are where it’s at

The United States is an expansive country, and well, not all cities or regions are created equal when it comes to retail. JLL’s 2016 “Destination Retail Report” was released during the convention. Of the major urban centers, New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles emerged as the top 3 hubs for luxury retail, but in general the Eastern Seaboard and the West Coast are happening when it comes to new retail developments.

¹ Edelson, Sharon. “ICSC Preview: Luring Shoppers While Staying Profitable.” WWD, May 23, 2016.