Posted: April 20, 2017 by Eli Randel, Director of Business Development
PRE ICSC RETAIL FORECAST - PART I
It's nearing May signifying that retail analysis on the eve of ISCS is fast approaching. In the wake of recent store closure announcements from once iconic retail flags, the discussion has already begun. At the risk of being bold and possibly wrong, we are going to publish a series of ICSC/retail trends and predictions based on surveys, interviews, and anecdotal data. Topics to look for in the upcoming weeks:
- Urbanization vs. Suburbia
- Rise of the Second & Third Cities - Which Cities Will Prosper Next Cycle?
- Smaller Footprints - Not a Baby Announcement
- Retailertainment - Shop & Play (and Eat)
- Survival of the Clickest - (a term coined by Paul Cohen)
- Side Street - With Virtual Signage and E-Visibility, Do I Need to be on Main St?
PREDICTION I - ICSC 2017
We Will Discuss The Same Themes Often
We're all guilty of it. There's no risk in discussing something that already happened, and while the analysis might help investors, brokers, and stakeholders react, the opportunity to proactively strategize may have mostly passed. Some themes we possibly should have seen coming that we'll discuss often:
- STORE CLOSURES: Antiquated brands, static real estate models, and the impact of e-commerce should have probably been a focus of ICSC yesteryear. Stagnant store sales (resulting from e-commerce or tired brands) coupled with increasing occupancy costs have eroded profitability for some. Relevant, high-margin brands can partially write their (smaller) footprints off as advertising expense and showrooms for e-sales.
- BIG BOX CHALLENGES: Occupancy costs are an expense, as are the employees and inventory large-space houses. Department-like stores selling other brands allow customers to try a shoe on, only to watch them buy it from the source (nike.com) resulting in the store-related expense without the revenue. Grocers and mega-stores might also eventually shrink their footprints (many have). If inventory can be stacked in a warehouse for say $4/SF vs. $15/SF and transportation costs remain low, others could follow suit.
- (SUBURBAN) MALLS ARE STRUGGLING: Likely a result of overbuilding from another era, many suburban malls are struggling as foot-traffic declines and vacancy increases. Co-tenancy clauses allowing retailers to terminate their lease or pay less when an anchor goes dark, can create a domino effect. There is a rally-cry that malls will adapt and find new use for vacant space. I'm skeptical that current owners will be the ones to revive them. When the cost-basis resets following disposition, new landlords can get creative, but it can be hard for current owners to pencil-out. On the other hand, many urban malls are thriving. Seven of the top-ten malls (sales/sf) are in urban markets.
- POLITICAL RISK OR REWARD: Few forecasted Trump's populist win so I won't pretend this should have been easily predictable. I hope for politically neutral discussion surrounding the presidency and resulting economy - politics will be discussed often. Hopefully before the parties start while heads are still cool.
Comments and feedback are always welcome. Email Eli
Eli Randel is Director of Business Development based in CREXi’s Miami office. Eli spearheads CREXi’s growth and sales throughout the east coast as well as overseeing the national sales team. Prior to joining CREXi, Eli was director of dispositions for Blackstone’s Invitation Homes. Eli has also held management positions and production roles with Cohen Financial, Auction.com, LNR and CBRE where he began his career spending three years in Investment Sales before leaving to obtain his Master in Business Administration from the University of Florida.