The pandemic forced retailers and retail owners to adapt quickly. These changes were different than adjusting business models to meet new online shopping trends, as was the case for the years leading up to the pandemic. Instead, retailers needed to adapt physical spaces to accommodate social distancing and health-and-safety requirements. 2021 will be more of the same, with retail and retail owners forces to focus on adaptation to stay alive.

"Retail developers will continue to be forced to adapt, by working with their tenants to keep them open and improving their projects to deal with whatever the future brings," Dan Villalpando, a partner at Cox, Castle & Nicholson, tells "After all, none of us could have predicted what happened in 2020. Isn't it safe to say the same thing about 2021?"

In 2020, retail developers and owners learned to work closely with tenants both to support business and respond to new regulatory challenges. This trend is likely to gain momentum through 2021. "Many retail developers spent much of 2020 trying to support their tenants, either through negotiating rent relief amendments to help keep struggling tenants afloat, or by spending money to attempt to entice leery customers to return to their projects," says Villalpando. "Some retail developers have helped organize curbside pickup programs at their properties to assist smaller retailers who lack the resources to establish their own programs."

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Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Maree Borland is a freelance journalist and magazine writer based in Los Angeles, California. For more than 5 years, she has extensively reported on the commercial real estate industry, covering major deals across all commercial asset classes, investment strategy and capital markets trends, market commentary, economic trends and new technologies disrupting and revolutionizing the industry. Her work appears daily on and regularly in Real Estate Forum Magazine. As a magazine writer, she covers lifestyle and travel trends. Her work has appeared in Angeleno, Los Angeles Magazine, Travel and Leisure and more.