ICSC RECon 2013 Reflects Health of Retail Industry
With the ICSC RECon event in full swing, there’s a lot going on in Vegas! As the convention approached, local shopping centers on the Strip had increased sales, with new brands entering and longtime retailers expanding. “We’ve seen a flurry of retailers very interested in coming to Las Vegas. This is still a very hot market for retailers who are looking to open new or interesting concepts,” explained Janet LaFevre, General Growth Properties senior marketing manager for Las Vegas. “It’s a mall that has a great collection of retailers that’s located to attract residents and tourists and it’s worked well for us,” said VP of marketing at Sur La Table, Eli Winkler.
RECon is greatly benefiting from retail demand and rent increasing. Given this upswing, there is a lot of talk surrounding trends, and whether bubbles are forming in certain popular markets. “I don’t think they are quite bubbles, but there are markets like Beverly Hills that have come back nicely, and they are very competitive. There are spaces that are three, four, five deep with proposals. It’s all good when you look at where we were four years ago and nobody was doing anything. This is a positive development, but it ultimately creates some angst. Are rents pushing up because of competition and not actual sales? Is it going to be sustainable?” said Robert Cohen of RKF in Southern California.
ICSC RECon is benefiting from the industry’s improved health; there were an estimated 35,000 attendees, up from 25,000. Additionally, there are over 1,000 companies setting up shop in the 2 million square feet that the convention takes over, which is a record high for ICSC RECon.
“Anecdotally, I have noticed things like the number of hosted parties and receptions is way up. That is an indicator of the health of the retailers and developers. The retailers are looking for space, and they are not really finding it because there is no new space being constructed. The developers are all competing for who is the latest and coolest retailer on the block, as some of their leases are rolling over, and they are focusing on asset management and upping the quality of their tenant roster and cash flow. This is the first time since the recession where we feel this isn’t just about maintaining, there is a growth phase in our industry,” said ICSC’s Michael Kercheval.