I just got back from the International Council of Shopping Centers’ (ICSC) 2015 RECon Convention in Las Vegas, and I came away feeling as good as I have about the state of the industry in some time (and it wasn’t just the weather, which was delightfully on the cool side). Judging by the buzz on the floor at the convention center, the action was definitely heating up.
In a column I wrote between Black Friday and Christmas last year, I talked about how “apparel sales have been languishing”, and I mentioned that the “industry buzz is all about the struggles in apparel, where retailers just can’t seem to discount clothing enough to get things to pick up.”
There has been a lot of discussion in the last several years about the strength of the grocery sector. I think it’s clear that a big reason behind that success has been the evolution of different formats and the explosive growth of a new generation of grocery concepts that represent a significant departure from the traditional grocery model.
One of the interesting retail real estate trends I’ve been seeing pick up steam in the last couple of years is the willingness of many retailers to look beyond the traditional mall locations. Many are choosing locations on “hot streets,” bustling avenues within major communities that happen to be the retail hub, or in the downtown/village center area of the market.
Overall holiday shopping season sales numbers have been rolling in, and the news confirms what many retail real estate analysts (including myself) suspected: 2014 holiday sales were strong. Nothing earth-shattering — but plenty good enough to chalk this one up as a win.
With 2014 almost over, the looming question on everyone’s mind, of course, is whether holiday sales managed to live up to the (mostly) positive holiday forecasts from analysts and retail organizations.