CHICAGO-Growth in consumer confidence, though slight, istranslating to a boost in the retail market, according to JonesLang LaSalle in a recent global report. Retailers are continuing totalk about new stores and plan for the holiday season, whileinvestors are seeing better quality properties come on the market,and lenders opening up cash flow.

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Many projects put on hold during the global financial crisis areunderway again, according to the report. However, the retaillandscape for the next few years will be challenging, particularlyin mature markets. The growth hasn’t come without change, says GregMaloney, president and CEO of JLL Retail. Both retailers and ownershave had to improve business practices, and lenders are finallypushing properties off balance sheets, in some cases throughforeclosure. “This will start the process, get activity going forinvestors. It’s slow improvement, we’re not on a sharp curveupward,” Maloney says.

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Retailers are ready to grow, he says. “They’re talking aboutopening new stores and longer lease renewals. They got rid ofnon-performing stores and are in pretty good shape. While they maybe only talking about five to 15 new stores, instead of the 40-50new stores a year we saw earlier in the decade, it’s stillexpansion,” he tells GlobeSt.com.

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The trend of the year continues, he says, as shoppers arefrequently choosing either luxury or value stores to shop in, andignoring the middle-level chains. A good example is Hingam,MA-based Talbots, which recently announced it plans to close up to100 stores and is launching an outlet. “Talbots has been one of thebest of the middle, but like most retailers today, they need totake a position, are they luxury or value?” Maloney says.

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Another example would be Taubman Centers’ Great Lakes Crossingin Auburn Hills, MI, a 14-year-old large indoor mall that justannounced it will transfer almost completely over to outlet stores.Maloney says he’s not sure a complete overhaul is the way to go,but he agrees a firm stance makes an impression on the consumer.“You have to define yourself as not in the middle today, thatsection of retail is suffering the most. Even in restaurants, thefast-food companies are announcing expansions, while sit-downrestaurants that aren’t at the top of the local market aresuffering,” he says.

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