Though attendance at the International Council of ShoppingCenters' RECon event in Las Vegas seems a little lighter than yearspast, the convention is by no means slow.When asking one personduring a meeting today, Roy Higgs, the CEO of architecture firmDevelopment Design Group, how he would describe the show's climate,the answer was "the opposite of doom and gloom."Manyseemed to agree with this sentiment. Sure, things are a littleslower than years past, but deals are still getting done andretailers are still expanding. "There's expansion occurring," saysJohn Bemis, director of leasing and development at Jones LangLaSalle. "Strong and focused retailers are continuing to expand."Inmost cases, he says, retailers that were opening 20 stores thisyear have cut back to 16 units. Bemis even predicts that early nextyear will bring a spike in fashion retail expansion. All of thepeople who are cutting back their spending will start buying againas soon as next year's first quarter, he says.But Bernard Haddigan,managing director of Marcus & Millichap's national retailgroup, has a more tempered outlook. He says that the convention is"very busy, but not smoking busy" and that there is less of aretailer presence here this year.He wouldn't predict when thingscould turn around but was not overly negative about the climate,either. "It's not the end of the world," he says.

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