Yesterday’s NAIOP Main Event, New Rules for Retail: The Post-Recession Reality, had a standing room only crowd, and for a good reason. (See event photos here.) The retail landscape is changing more quickly than ever before due, in part, from the influence of the internet and the changing demands of the consumer. ICSC and NAIOP members heard from a panel of industry experts: David Smookler, Principal, The Dartmouth Company; Tom DeSimone, Executive Vice President, WS Development; Jeff Gellerman, Director Real Estate, Lowes Home Improvement, and Bill Moscarelli, Vice President Real Estate, National Amusements.
Based on the presentations, it’s clear that the cookie-cutter approach to retail development is history. To succeed, new retail development must be customized to the community, the site, and the market. The design of the successful Legacy Place is not going to be replicated in Lynnfield’s mixed use partnership with WS Development and National Development – it will be its own unique blend of uses and public spaces. The stand-alone Cineplex developed by National Amusements has changed dramatically in just 15 years. Stadium seating, 3-D movies and restaurant-style dining have made going to the movies a totally different experience. And there seems to be no doubt that even with hundreds of channels on TV and endless options for shopping and entertainment online, people will still continue to go out to have fun.
That said, the influence of the internet continues to expand and cannot be ignored. Shoppers are doing much of their “homework” online and shopping experiences (good, but mostly bad) are shared through social media channels and can quickly go viral. Lowes discussed the importance of staying ahead of the curve by offering customers tutorials on home improvement projects with links to purchase the supplies needed to complete the job.
When it comes to retail, what seems to be the rule now, as before, is that change will continue to be a critical part of this industry.