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New projects always involve necessary preparations: We investigate which cities might make sense for us and our customers, look at purchasing power, traffic, development, and infrastructure plans for each region, etc., and define the most appropriate place for a potential retail or logistics property on the basis of the parameters analyzed.

Not a day goes by in which we aren’t warned by crystal-ball-gazing apologists of every type about the demise of over-the-counter retail in general and of shopping centers in particular. Our only experiences of the world will be virtual ones or – at the very least – we will produce everything at home on our own 3-D printers.

Despite an upturn in the UK shopping center market, few UK towns still warrant retail investment and landlords are looking to refurbishment to drive value. With core retailers still focused on larger hubs, secondtier assets need to ensure they are not left behind.

MAPIC, which took place recently in Cannes, showed once again that the rate of new developments has slowed significantly, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, despite a number of outstanding new shopping center projects. In the end, I dealt extensively with the topic of refurbishment. Unfortunately, I see no sustainable development trend that could leverage the potential that is undoubtedly still there in the coming years.

Clad in light, a shopping center’s architecture can become the talk of the town! It is a well-known fact that light always attracts crowds. What’s more, when used theatrically, its power of seduction increases significantly. These are the findings of the experts from the Luci Association after studying the economic and cultural benefits of light-based festivals. At a time when shopping centers are upping their game to compete with online sales, the use of new technology, such as interactive platforms, the internet, and smartphones can attract crowds.

The physical store no longer holds a virtual monopoly on retail transactions. Consumers can now shop anytime, anywhere, and are not bound by opening hours or physical proximity.

When the entire European shopping center industry meets in Cannes this year, there will be lots of back patting.

Designer outlets have been one of the most widely misunderstood, but strongest performing, real estate sectors in Europe over the past decade. The strong consumer demand for the outlet sector is reflected in the high levels of footfall, extensive catchment areas, and strong sales densities. In turn, strong occupier demand accounts for very high occupancy rates across quality outlets: Tier 1 assets have an average vacancy rate of just 2%.

The quality of the retail offer presented by a shopping center is the route to leveraging customer preference. It is therefore key to retailer success. The art of leasing is central to our business.

A critical evaluation of the centers which have been added to the European market in recent years prompts the following sobering conclusions: Professionalism in design, construction and operation has generally reached a very high level.

As the retail and shopping center climate continues to heat up across Europe and ongoing investment strongly suggests that the future looks promising, it is vital that we remain clear on what it is that really drives our market: the people within it.