Retail real estate experts gathering in Las Vegas for the International Council of Shopping Centers annual expo are prepared to push back against the narrative that retail is in a death spiral.
“We’re trying to arm our people with facts so that when the questions are asked, we can say no, actually, these are the facts,” said Greg Maloney, head of retail brokerage at JLL, according to Bloomberg.
In large cities across the country, the retail vacancy rate stood at 4.9 percent in the first quarter, which is near the lowest level of the past decade, according to data from JLL and CoStar. Property owners are also re-leasing many stores ahead of closures and bankruptcies with more profitable businesses like food and entertainment venues, Maloney said.
The state of the retail market will be on the minds of the estimated 37,000 attendees at the conference in Las Vegas, where The Real Deal is covering all the action at ICSC.
Mall owners are trying to think of creative ways to “Amazon-proof” their properties. GGP, for instance, is working to open up the first KidZania activity centers in the U.S., and working with Forever21 on a line of boutique shops aimed at millennials called Riley Rose.
Publicly traded retail companies are having a tough year, though. Shares of mall REITs are down 13 percent this year, compared with a climb of 1.5 percent for an index covering all REITs. [Bloomberg] – Rich Bockmann