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RECON 2018: One Word for Retailers, Opportunity

RECON 2018 took place at the end of May in Las Vegas, Nevada. Milrose was delighted to send a team to the largest real estate convention in the world to learn and get the latest on current and future retail trends.

During last year’s convention we learned that retail was in fact not dying but evolving, despite circulating news headlines of hundreds of stores closing. This year, the tone remained positive and shifted from the realization that retail is changing and looking at how millennial consumers are changing the landscape with the increase of digital consumerism, to all of the opportunity that now exists in retail due to this shifting landscape.

Omni-Channel Comes Full Circle

One of the most surprising shifts after the emphasis of the importance of being online is seeing online retailers returning back to brick-and-mortar stores. These physical stores, however, won’t look like what we’re used to seeing when it comes to retail.

Jaclyn DiRenzo, Milrose Senior Regional Sales Manager, says, “The brands we’ll be seeing aren’t necessarily the brands we know today, major rollouts of huge names may be a thing of the past. Looking forward, we’ll be seeing more controlled rollouts of up and coming brands that have tested the waters with an online presence first and then made the decision to rollout to various markets on the national scene.”

Data shows that the number of digitally-native vertical brands opening physical stores has been continuously growing since 2012, confirming that an omni-channel approach to retail is a must for any smart retailer. DiRenzo agrees by stating, “Not just millennials, but consumers in general, have spoken. They want digital access as well as experiences when they shop. For a brand to be successful in today’s market, they have to integrate both of these concepts into their way of life.”

Malls Can Still Survive If They Become Community and Customer-Centric

With the realization that consumers want digital and experiences, malls have a chance to survive if they’re willing to change. DiRenzo suggests, “Malls need to start to look at and realize there are other ways to utilize their portfolio beyond the old, standalone mall concept.”

Food halls were a big topic at last year’s convention and those are here to stay as the gourmet food trend continues. The halls offer a communal feel, a center point for meeting and enjoying food, drinks, and music. Another idea is the possibility of reinvigorating an area with an apartment complex or townhomes, pulling the community into the focal point, which should be the mall.

When malls consider their retail stores, they must have retailers with appeal, offering brands that are more tailored to their customers. The stores should offer personal shoppers or the capability to click and ship from the store once the customer has tried something on, some have been successful integrating elements that are not typical of the brand. Malls should be playing to the balance that has to exist between digital experiences and human experiences. Customer service cannot be overlooked, it should be noted that consumers still want to interact and feel like they are being taken care of.

The Future of Retail is Opportunity

As mentioned, the food hall concept that have started to make a splash are here to stay. All of the elements of the food hall – the communal feel, a place to meet and enjoy gourmet food, drinks, and music — will continue to be brought together as we see them expand and gain popularity.

Al Cava, Director of Regional Sales adds, “Another area to keep a focus on is the health industry.” Anything from specialty fitness studios and gyms, to urgent care facilities, people are taking better care of themselves and enjoying the array of health and fitness choices that many areas are starting to offer.

While there will always be a positive and a negative impact when a trend takes place, there will also always be opportunity. While some areas may be experiencing severe setbacks with vacant retail stores, it poses an opportunity for smaller brands to bring their product to market when rent may be more affordable. It also gives property owners a chance to reevaluate their portfolios and determine if they want to change the use of their sites.

The word retail used to trigger thoughts of giant stores filled with clothing and home good items, all usually packed inside bland, standalone malls. Now, retail means so much more. It’s boutique exercise class studios, gourmet food restaurants, concept stores, experience venues, and more. With the diversity and innovation being brought to the industry there is much to look forward to in the world of retail.

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