As the largest retail real estate event on the east coast, ICSC New York Deal Making had nearly 10,000 retail professionals from all corners of the US and even some from across the pond, flocking to the Big Apple for the week of December 3rd.
ICSC offered a new Professional Development Day the Tuesday before Deal Making kicked off, which allowed for more learning than ever before with panel sessions and teachings on finance essentials, tapping under-served markets and more. This year’s keynote address featured Doug Stephens, founder of Retail Prophet and 20-year veteran of the retail industry. Also new to their program was “Retail in Focus,” featuring many emerging brands that started out as digitally-native and are now in the various stages of opening strategic physical locations in line with the brands they’ve cultivated on the internet, and where their audience is located. Allbirds, Candytopia, Foxtrot, M.Gemi, UNTUCKit and Winky Lux participated in addition to others.
At Cushman & Wakefield’s Deal Making Booth, we saw many new topics and current trends being discussed, in addition to much buzz and many client meetings taking place. With the welcoming of Phil Colicchio and Trip Scheck to C&W’s Retail Services platform as F&B, entertainment and hospitality consultants, we heard how elevated F&B will continue to be the darling of property owners and developers from mixed-use projects and hotels to stand-alone spaces and performance venues. Food, beverage and entertainment options along with off-price apparel players will likely take the place of many of the retail categories currently in contraction, and that will create real growth opportunities for retailers catering to millennial tastes as well as for landlords who proactively respond to these demographic shifts. Referenced as “eater-tainment” concepts, “barcades”, food halls, and theaters, paired with elevated food and beverage options and other entertainment concepts will be a winning combination.
Also discussed by many of our national retail professionals was that of the “Amenitization of Retail” across many urban and suburban markets within the US. This evolution has retail becoming the ultimate amenity. From new grocers and fitness concepts to nail salons inside shoe stores, this is a trend that is expanding among all retail real estate types. The mall of the future will be mixed-use, and a big story of the next decade (at least) will be of shopping centers transforming into mixed-use facilities that become a catalyst for communities– with reduced retail footprints and increased multifamily, office, medical, hospitality and, of course, food, beverage and entertainment options all in one place that is designed and developed to be functional and livable.
Back in New York City, which is home to a host of mini micro-markets that are all benefiting from high deal velocity, rent, and demand, our retail professionals remain incredibly optimistic and excited about the direction of the market and the way it will continue to evolve and correct over time. And with Fifth Avenue as one of top three most desirable shopping destinations on earth (among prime locations in Hong Kong and London), we continue to see big brands hold market share (and court) to reach tourists and locals alike.
The engaging day of deal making and dialogue culminated with our elegant client reception held at the iconic New York Public Library’s Celeste Bartos Forum space where guests sipped on signature Cushman & Wakefield Mule cocktails, nibbled on delicious bites and mingled well on into the evening. This year’s ICSC NY proved to be filled with insight and intrigue, and one to remember.
CLICK HERE for our full recap of the conference, including photos, video interviews and more!
Alanna Loeffler is Platform Director and Marketing Lead for Americas Retail Services at Cushman & Wakefield. In her role she creates, manages and executes a strategic marketing plan comprised of annual, quarterly and ongoing initiatives that support business objectives, advance business development and expand the depth and breadth of retail thought leadership and branding for the firm.