Retail’s Bifurcated Revival

THERE IS A PAGE IN OUR MAPPING THE Changes to Retail guide that is very telling. It looks at retail categories that are struggling and why. But then about halfway down the page there is another data point to read about: why retail is gaining despite the record store closings. And make no mistake—stores still are closing despite the phenomenal changes underway in retail overall. Indeed, in a recent report UBS found that another 75,000 stores needed to close by 2026 to account for the inroads that e-commerce will make in physical retail. But as Marcus & Millichap wrote for this piece, “While closed stores may hurt some owners in the short term, longer-term effects of more efficient retail business models will be beneficial.” For example, Marcus & Millichap went on to note: when a retail opens a physical location within a market, web traffic in that area typically increases by 37%.

In short, retail’s survival and revival has been very much a tale of two types of stores: those that get they need to change their business model and those that don’t. This is a drum that Real Estate Forum has been banging for years as the message, first slowly, then rapidly, began to sink in. Fortunately, experts now believe that retail survivors are firmly fixed on a new type of future that is experiential and omnichannel.

Natalie Dolce explores some of these themes in her article “Retail’s New Normal”, which starts on page 19. Many retail destinations now feature a blend of entertainment, experiences and services—a model that is fast becoming the new norm.

Of course, as part of our Annual Retail Review we have also served up our list of influencers in this space. Read about these movers and shakers, starting on page 31.

We also present you in this issue with a look at how REITs are dealing with (or perhaps better put, delighting in) the dovish monetary policy stance the Federal Reserve has assumed. But, as the article also explains, REITs’ relationship with interest rates is more complicated than the simple equation that low rates equal higher shares.

And on page 16 Betsy Kim takes a look at how hotels are also evolving to stay competitive and current with travelers’ tastes. Her take on the issue: just like in retail, guests want experiences, not commoditization when deciding where to stop for the night. We hope you enjoy the issue.