News

RECon 2012: Expectations on the rise

BY Jeff Green

As retail real estate professionals from around the world prepare for the annual RECon convention in Las Vegas, it seems pretty clear to me that the anticipation for this year’s event is on the rise. This is a noticeable change from some recent years, where the recession eliminated any enthusiasm we once saw in the “glory days.”

People I talk to in the industry are excited to get together this year; they are truly looking forward to it. Quite honestly, I haven’t felt this kind of pre-RECon buzz and positive energy since 2007. And if my own calendar is any indication, we should expect good things to come (the last time my conference schedule was this full was 2007)! All of this optimism and energy leads me to believe that this is likely to be the most well attended RECon in several years. (I’ll revisit the attendance issue after the convention to see if my predictions were on point).

Given the context of what seems likely to be a lively, well-attended event, it will be even more interesting to watch and see the extent to which a few recent RECon trends continue. One of those, of course, is the prevalence of redevelopment opportunities over new development (it will likely take a more robust period of sustained growth to change that dynamic), and another is the growing international presence at the convention—a reflection of an industry that is growing faster overseas than at home. But to me, one of the biggest changes is in the tenor of the convention itself: RECon is not even really about just doing a deal or signing a lease anymore; it’s about learning more about the new projects and opportunities out there, and about putting a face to the name: networking, in other words. That networking—the personal interactions that help to forge and strengthen professional connections—is more important than ever at a time when professional communications are conducted more and more via email. In a sense, RECon has evolved beyond simply a deal hub, and is now a forum for making a connection beyond the deal.

So, what will be the big takeaways from the 2012 installment of RECon? I think people will be surprised that retailers’ growth plans are as robust as they are. My sense of it is that the industry is ready to make some big moves. I also think competition is going to remain a big theme. These days everyone is courting the same handful of high-profile “hot” brands, so competition is ferocious. The competitive atmosphere is especially obvious when it comes to the newer and more unique tenants. But, what’s a little competition between friends?

What do you think? What are you most looking forward to this year? Do you have a robust schedule? Please make a public comment below or feel free to e-mail me privately at [email protected].


Click here for past columns by Jeff Green.

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News

RECon 2012: An interview with Forest City

BY Katherine Boccaccio

As part of Chain Store Age’s lead-up coverage to RECon 2012, to be held May 20-23 in Las Vegas, we talked with Forest City’s Joseph Boehm about what his expectations are for the big real estate show. Visit Forest City’s booth at RECon, Central Hall, C10 Union Street.

What are your expectations for RECon 2012 in terms of activity, attitude, priorities?
I would expect RECon to mirror the sentiment that seems to be pervasive throughout the real estate industry (i.e. cautiously optimistic yet pragmatic). I think the activity and attitude will be slightly improved over last year with expectations for better growth in new store openings looking out in 2013 and 2014. The priorities will continue to be for market efficiency and optimization and less about expansion and increasing market share.

What projects will you be focused on at your booth this year?
Focus will be on our newest opening, Ridge Hill (Yonkers, N.Y.), in addition to the plans for the redevelopment and expansion projects that would include South Bay Galleria in Redondo Beach, Calif., Sunset Galleria in Henderson, Nev., Ballston Commons in Arlington, Va., and Antelope Valley Mall in Palmdale, Calif.

What categories of retail do you feel will be actively in expansion mode in the back half of the year?
Retailers with an outlet presence have been and will continue to be the most active throughout the country. Additionally, several restaurant chains that are showing healthy sales and growth prospects will continue to be active in the back half of 2012. As home furnishings and home goods tend to be leaders out of recession, I would expect several of the retailers in those categories to demonstrate increased growth prospects.

What key convention indicators do you feel will tell the tale of the rest of the year in terms of recovery?
The key convention indicators would include attitude, margin improvement and top line sales improvement.


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REAL ESTATE

YoGo Factory opens at CooperTowne Center, 22 locations on tap

BY Staff Writer

Somerdale, N.J. — Purchase, N.Y.-based National Realty & Development Corp. said that YoGo Factory opened at CooperTowne Center in April.

The 366,865-sq.-ft. shopping center is located 10 miles from Philadelphia and is anchored by Walmart Supercenter, Cinemark 16-screen theater and LA Fitness.

YoGo Factory is a self-serve frozen yogurt shop with seven locations open in southern New Jersey and an additional 22 stores opening in the coming months.

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