We work with only a few of the stakeholders within the placemaking industry, so I speak from that perspective. The main challenges for retail real estate are
1) more volatility, for example, trends appear more rapidly, consumer expectations are rising
2) the impact of ignoring the need for investments in a data and digital strategy, also for the center itself. While it is key that retailers are in direct contact with the end consumer, this is no less important that the center has the same goal, as part of the overall strategy of the center.
3) the impact of inflation on consumers and their shopping habits (at least in the short term)
Opportunities and trends
There is a huge opportunity in deploying a data-driven strategy, both on the consumer and tenant level. Not only can investments in this area increase traffic, loyalty and spend, both these stakeholder groups can provide valuable insight as to how your asset should evolve.
We are also observing that many of our clients are putting more effort into and increasing investments in specialty leasing, both in terms of “traditional” pop-up stores but also enabling brands to create unique experiences that enhances the shopper journey. Our role in this typically is to help the shopping centre increase exposure and get stronger results for this type of temporary setup by using relevant digital tools to connect the brand with the consumer.
Otherwise, on a general basis, I foresee even more creativeness in multi-use assets which will forever redefine the concept of a “shopping center”
Fundamental and lasting changes
As mentioned, the space is rapidly changing, and I hope all have understood that nothing is permanent. What is apparent is that there is no going back. There are too many examples of properties first now realizing the need for structural change. So, the lasting change is to be on your toes and prepared to be proactive. But always, always ensure decisions are data-driven!
Wishes for the industry and market participants
Act now! Invest in good tools! Understand that it is beneficial to engage in both the end-consumer and tenant. And, of course, to contact Placewise to see how we can help you stay in the forefront.
Susan Bonsak is CEO of Placewise, and member of the ACROSS Advisory Board.