Jeff Green blog: Reflections on RECon 2013

“One of the strange ironies of the 2013 convention is that — despite more bookings, a sold-out convention and more activity than we’ve seen in years — the convention doesn’t feel as busy as it has in years past. I suspect this is largely because three of the biggest names in the industry, Macerich, Simon, and Westfield, don’t have booths at the convention center this year. Make no mistake, they are still here in Vegas — they have just moved over to Caesar’s Palace. The impact on the floor traffic here at the convention proper is noticeable, and it’s obvious that those three names have siphoned some people away from the convention floor. From the perspective of a convention-goer, fewer crowds are a welcome convenience, but that’s outweighed by logistical headaches that this fragmentation has created. If you’ve ever stood in a taxi line in Las Vegas during RECon, you know how challenging it can be to get from one location to another.”

A new development: New developments
“Going in to this year’s RECon I expected to see a lot of momentum building around redevelopment opportunities. To my surprise, however, it seems like there is much more interest than expected in new development, as well — particularly in urban areas and brownfield sites. It has been a real eye-opener, and it might be a sign that things are moving faster and that the industry is heading into a new post-recovery mini-boom a little faster than many might have suspected not too long ago.”

Made to order
“One of the most distinctive new retail trends I’ve noticed so far at RECon is in the restaurant category, where unique chef-driven concepts keep coming up again and again. It seems like this trend is indicative of the fact that some in the industry are starting to look at the restaurant component in a new light: as an opportunity to define your project and help transform a retail or mixed-use development into a true destination. Generally speaking, the more unique your restaurant concept, the greater the size of the trade area you can pull from. Couple that with the fact that there simply aren’t too many defining, difference-making tenants out there — this has been and will continue to be largely an industry of chains and familiar brands — and it’s not too hard to see why chic new chef-driven restaurants are starting to become the de rigueur choice to serve as defining entertainment anchors.”

Everything’s bigger better in Texas
“It’s not a new observation to point out the State of Texas has a historical knack for resisting large-scale economic downturns and outperforming the national marketplace during recessionary slowdowns. For a number of reasons, the Lone Star States’ economy and housing market always seem to hold up better than most states/regions. 2013 has driven that point home to me again, because it’s clear that many retailers are performing totally differently in Texas than in other areas of the country. With a good bit of retail development momentum in the state, it doesn’t look like that will be changing any time soon.”


Jeff Green is president and CEO of Phoenix-based Jeff Green Partners, a leading consulting firm specializing in retail real estate feasibility, retail expansion planning, medical retail planning, location analysis and commercial land use. Read his column here.
 

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