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Reflections from the 2024 ICSC Las Vegas Conference: A Week of Optimism & Expansion

Posted on May 31, 2024 in Announcements, News, Trends, And Insights

Our ShopCore team from Leasing, Transactions, National Accounts, Ancillary Income, Property Management, Asset Management, Construction & Development, Marketing, and Leadership gathered at the 2024 ICSC Las Vegas conference along with over 25,000 attendees. We collectively engaged in over 250 meetings with retailer partners, industry brokers, analysts, developers, lenders, and landlord peers. In addition, many of us attended the keynote speaker, Nick Saban plus other educational sessions that were held during the two days.

A palpable sense of optimism and positivity filled the air, markedly different from the cautious atmosphere of the past two years. The retail fundamentals remain strong, and there’s a national demand for quality open-air retail spaces amid a sustained low supply. Despite the challenges of inflation, rising capital costs, and shrink, retailers are unwavering in their expansion plans. They are aggressively rolling out new stores, often securing spaces years in advance due to the persistent lack of supply.

We observed a surge in new store developments from major anchors like Target and Walmart, particularly in growth markets in the sunbelt states. These anchors are followed by junior anchors such as Ross, who are willing to invest significantly in new builds, especially in states like Texas. Retailers are ready to pay higher rents to secure leases in competitive markets, while some negotiate lower rents by opting to self-fund their buildouts, successfully striking deals with smaller developers.

Last year’s wave of retailers capitalizing on notable bankruptcies to expand their presence continues, with soft-goods brands and grocers eyeing spaces in categories like pharmacies. There’s also potential for partnerships where oversized retailers carve out space for desired co-tenants, such as grocers creatively seeking quality opportunities in a low supply environment.

In adapting to post-COVID realities, businesses are embracing automated checkouts, experiential in-store events, and flexible store sizes. There’s a notable shift towards co-tenancy with grocery stores and fitness centers, with evolving merchandising mixes that include Medtail, education, life sciences, and experiential retail concepts like Sky Zone and Original X Productions. The advancement of data tools has enabled retailers to have very targeted criteria for locations, often preferring high-traffic areas and markets with strong demographic growth.

Landlords are back in the driver’s seat. The good retailers want and need to expand.  Because GenZ thrives online but they also like shopping IRL, their in-store shopping habits are on par with baby boomers. Retail is savoring being the favored sector in commercial real estate. We need to carefully curate our centers to bring our communities what they are looking for. We should be carefully looking at occupancy costs and knowing when to update uses to meet the demands.

Despite the conference being primarily a deal-making conference, our ShopCore marketing team had the opportunity to also be in the spotlight. ShopCore was awarded a Silver ICSC Global Maxi Award for their K-FUN Day at The Shops at Skyview! This was a huge honor to be in the company of 70 global finalists and to be recognized in the industry for innovative events, programs and technology driving value to our properties. Congratulations to our team at The Shops at Skyview!