Communal dining—or food halls—tops a list of breakout retail concepts in shopping center developments.
The list, from real estate firm Phillips Edison & Company , was released on Monday in conjunction with ICSC’s RECon event, which is occuring this week in Las Vegas.
“While we’ve seen hyperbolic headlines the last few years surrounding the state of retail and the role e-commerce is playing in it, those of us operating in this space know that e-commerce has actually led to exciting and innovative developments in brick-and-mortar retail formats,” said Mike Conway, VP of national accounts and retailer partnerships for Phillips Edison. “The retail industry has shown true resilience in the face of disruption as brands have gone back to the drawing board to reimagine the entire physical retail model, and some amazing creative concepts have taken shape as a result.”
The emerging trends team, headed by Conway, identified the five most significant concepts that are breaking out this year. They are:
Food Halls – Communal dining is not a fleeting trend; it’s here to stay. There were approximately 110 food halls operating in 2015, and experts conservatively predict the total number will climb to 300 by 2020. Expect to see growth in the “micro food hall” concept, with footprints in the range of 2,500 sq. ft. that allow customers to order from various concepts with one shared kitchen.
Pop-Up Shops – Retailers are taking advantage of the pop-up shop movement to generate brand exposure, test new products and concepts, and create positive engagements with consumers. Recognizable brands utilizing pop-ups include Adidas, Amazon, M&Ms and Nordstrom. Retail landlords are also embracing the trend with dedicated programs and physical areas in their centers devoted exclusively to temporary concepts.
Fast-Casual Dining – By 2025, food and beverage retailers are expected to dominate 20% of total space in American and Canadian retail properties. Recognizing this trend, many property owners are starting to hire dedicated executives to seek out the top emerging food concepts as this category takes larger shares of their portfolios. Quality fast-casual concepts such as CoreLife Eatery, Cava and Modern Market have become the most sought-after operators in the changing restaurant landscape.
Showrooms – Combining e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail, showrooms have become a powerful way for brands to create meaningful interactions with consumers. While retailers seek to meet consumers’ demands for convenience, they also recognize the power that real-life contact with staff and products can have in generating a positive, long-lasting relationship. As such, brands such as Bonobos have taken the lead in this area, opening physical stores where the customers can “try before they buy,” but must order merchandise for delivery to their doors rather than carry it out.
Experiential Retail – Consumers are increasingly looking for unique and exciting experiences to draw them offline and into stores, and a number of retailers are responding to these changing mindsets by implementing interactive elements in their locations. Saks Fifth Avenue’s Wellery [at its Manhattan flagship] incorporates salt rooms, a nail studio and a gym. In other examples, Williams-Sonoma offers cooking classes and grocers have introduced wine tastings and nutrition coaching.
“Much has been made of the need for brick-and-mortar retail to adapt to e-commerce, but we’ve also seen a shift in the other direction with a number of e-retailers opening brick-and-mortar showrooms to complement online offerings,” added Conway. “Overall, we’re confident that the future for retail is bright, and we can’t wait to see how these trends continue to unfold.”