Retailers are generally optimistic about 2016, with such factors as low gas pricing and the housing market uptick working in the industry’s favor.
That’s according to a survey of store managers by real estate services firm Levin Management, which has 95 properties in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia and North Carolina. Several industry sources have also expressed a positive outlook, including Kiplinger, which anticipates retail will grow approximately 4% this year, and Trading Economics which expects 3.6% growth.
The survey noted that increasing demand for technology-driven, omni-channel retailing will play a big role in 2016. Fifty-one percent of respondents said they will add or enhance their marketing efforts involving technology – such as mobile apps, social media, email and text messaging – in 2016.
In addition, about half indicated their company has changed its business model in response to the growth of ecommerce. The most popular adaptations include enhanced in-store services and incentives, added in-store pickup and returns option for online purchases, and generally increased collaboration between online and bricks-and-mortar operations. Among the retailers that have made business model changes, 40.6% reported they have seen a positive impact on sales.
“Bricks-and-mortar and online are converging. And it appears our tenants are gearing up accordingly,” said Levin Management president Matthew K. Harding.
In other findings, 28.4% of the Levin survey respondents indicated plans for their company to open additional locations this year.
"We anticipate that smaller footprints will be the norm as retailers continue to right-size and make shifts to incorporate e-commerce into their operations,” Harding noted.