The Caruso Affiliated booth at ICSC's RECon event.

[IMGCAP(1)]

LAS VEGAS—While here at ICSC’s RECon event, we not only caught up on sessions and parties, but we caught up with a few key attendees. Jackie Levy, EVP of operations for Caruso Affiliated, told GlobeSt.com that “While technology changes over time, the human need driving retail does not.”

According to Levy, customers continue to respond to lively, engaging brick-and-mortar retail experiences, something he expects to continue. “People still want social hubs: places that create great ambience and enable couples, friends and families to connect over a meal, entertainment, or shopping, and we see this at our properties daily.”

Levy notes that “A compelling retail experience grows market share and customer loyalty.” He adds that “The physical presence of retail goods will continue to fill basic human needs and drive people in-store.”

Caruso Affliated is also seeing movement with great online brands popping up at brick and mortar, Levy says. “Retail stores have become destinations to highlight and augment the brand experience. Another trend is webrooming vs. showrooming, where far more consumers are researching products online to buy in local stores, than the other way around.”

[IMGCAP(1)]

When asked what types of developments retailers want, Levy tells GlobeSt.com that “Leading retailers want to provide their customers with an immersive, welcoming experience. That means they are seeking out developments that are human-scale, multi-use and livable, that merge hospitality and community gathering with entertainment.” 

America’s great retail streets have long provided this kind of experience, like Newberry Street in Boston or King Street in Charleston, he says. “More and more retailers want to be part of development projects that create a similar environment—open-air spaces that offer a great dining, entertainment and retail mix, with ambience that draw in visitors.”

He adds: “Just think about how good it makes you feel to see people sitting in an outdoor café with lights strung over it. It’s festive and inviting—it’s a place you want to be. That’s also a place where successful retailers want to be—a fun, engaging atmosphere, where their customers will enjoy themselves over a meal with friends and spend more time shopping.”

So what does the future hold? Caruso Affiliated believes that over the next decade, traditional indoor shopping centers will be forced to reinvent and transform—to create the kind of engaging, lively, social experience consumers want, Levy says. “Technology and e-commerce will help to drive this transformation. In fact, we are already seeing it happen.”

Online retailers are embracing brick-and-mortar stores as integral to their brands, explains Levy. “Social media and apps are helping retailers engage with more customers and are enhancing the experience retailers create in stores. The possibilities are endless. Technology will be an ally, not a threat, in ensuring brick-and-mortar retail’s reinvention and bright future.”