• Americas

Retail Newsline: The Death of Nuance

By Garrick Brown, Vice President of Retail Research, Americas

busy shopping mallOn the road this week but if there is one article you really need to read this week it’s a piece on Southern California’s South Coast Plaza that appeared in Racked last week… The Case for the American Mall. Actually read that after you check out my interview with the inimitable Howard Kline of CRE Radio & TV where we talk about the current trend of retail closures and the role Wall Street is playing in it… and why I think it’s problematic. The reason, by the way, ultimately comes down to the nuance of time… I don’t disagree with the general thought behind shrinking retail footprints as chains simultaneously build their online capabilities… I just think the URGENCY behind this trend is ill-advised, unnecessary and worse… will prove incredibly costly to many chains and will ultimately be a factor in the demise of at least a few.

But back to the Racked story on the case for the American mall… If you subscribe to their e-mail notices, the description of the article was pretty good: “The Internet isn’t killing malls… better malls are…” I believe this to be the case…Better malls are killing other malls… ALONG with the internet…

Here again is the problem… the marketplace continues to struggle when it comes to grasping nuance of any kind. All too often retail is painted with the same broad brush. That’s not to say there are not immense challenges out there playing out… just look at this week’s Top Five… not a lot of happy stories there… Again and again we see the marketplace struggling to deal with complex narratives or how two simultaneously contradictory narratives might possibly be simultaneously true. If apparel and department stores chains are in contraction mode, how could it be that some malls are prospering? If we are seeing a number of casual dining chains in trouble, how could it be that Americans are eating out now more than ever? Really… It is as if the marketplace wants to judge retail on a dumbed-down pass/fail basis when what is really needed is a sector-by-sector report card. By the way, if I was doing the grading there certainly would be some subjects (retail categories) earning “B” grades or higher… problem is we are likely still dealing with a “student” right now where the GPA is… well, let’s just say, making a very strong case for community college. But, hey, I was actually going to say that I was on the road this week and after teeing up a couple of great articles was going to dodge any sort of meaningful commentary until next week. Of course, after re-reading this I realize I probably did do just that sans eliminating the word count.

One more thing before I go…I would love to invite you to an event that I will be speaking at. Later this month I am going to be out in Nashville for the ICSC Tennessee/Kentucky Idea Exchange. This is always a great dealmaking event at an incredible venue in one of the nation’s coolest cities. The event itself will be Wednesday, August 24th and Thursday, August 25th at Music City Convention Center. I am going to be speaking to the General Session on Thursday morning at 8:30 AM on the topic: Cool Streets of America: Can Hipster Concepts Save Mid-Market Retail? If you can make it, please come check it out. I promise an enlightening and entertaining session and, hey… it’s in Nashville.

By the way, if you haven’t seen our recent report on the Cool Streets of North America, click here

You can also check out our accompanying and ongoing video series; Cool Streets. More episodes are coming but you can click on the below links for…

Cool Streets San Diego

Cool Streets Washington, DC

Additionally, you can check out our latest Q2 2016 National Shopping Center Report by clicking here… And if you need any of our research reports, whether global or local, on any commercial real estate sector check out our research page by clicking here. Thanks—have a great week and enjoy the Olympics!

This post is commentary from the latest weekly edition of our Cushman & Wakefield Retail Newsline, which you can subscribe to for free by e-mailing garrick.brown@cushwake.com.

garrick-brownGarrick serves as Vice President of Retail Research for the Americas. He speaks frequently at industry events and has been a keynote speaker at symposiums, conferences and market forecasting events for groups like the Appraisal Institute, Urban Land Institute, CREW, ICSC and PRSM. He is also a member of Lambda Alpha International, an invitation-only land use society for those who are involved in the ownership, management, regulation and conservation of land, but also those who are involved in its development, redevelopment and preservation.

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