December 23, 2020
It’s no secret that the retail sector has been subject to a whole host of changes related to both consumer shopping habits and to the underlying real estate. However much it may appear to the casual observer that the COVID-19 pandemic has been the driving force, a recent webinar sponsored by foot traffic analytics platform Placer.ai made it clear that many of these changes predated the pandemic.
Titled “Shopping Center Trends: Stay the Course or Pivot?”, the 45-minute conversation charted trends that have been underway for some time, those that are shorter-term and are likely to ebb when the pandemic runs its course, and the “big shifts” that are fundamentally altering the landscape for malls, shopping centers and outlet centers. Ethan Chernofsky, VP marketing at Placer.ai, moderated the discussion.
His guests were Alanna Loeffler, director, business development, Americas retail services, Cushman & Wakefield; and Elizabeth Boldin Thomas, director of marketing and research strategy, Bayer Properties. Placer.ai and Cushman& Wakefield forged a partnership this past July.
Among other topics, the panelists discussed the trend for big-footprint brands to move “outdoors” with smaller-format stores—as well as the potential for the reverse to occur. “In terms of getting outdoor-oriented brands indoors, I think there’s a huge opportunity to move in that direction of shopping malls in the next five years,” said Loeffler. “We’re starting to see these assets reimagined into mixed-use destinations, community centers and places that have taken stock of what the surrounding neighborhoods really want and need.”
Already more established is the trend of direct-to-consumer rollouts by operators such as Nike and Lululemon: a trend that preceded COVID and is continuing to evolve. “I’d say this trend is leaning in the direction of a massive change,” Loeffler said.
Given that some of the DTC brands began as web-only operations, Thomas was asked how shopping center owners can best incorporate them into a brick-and-mortar tenant mix. “This sounds really simple, but the key to finding a good fit is research: doing your homework, understanding who that brand is,” she said.
“One of the things that these DTC and digitally native brands boast is that they have such a unique product,” Thomas continued. “With that comes a very niche audience, with specific nuances.”
Replays of the Nov. 24 webinar are available by clicking here.
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