Yesterday at ICSC
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|When Bisnow asks for a photo, our readers are usually happy to oblige. But there’s a sure sign retail’s doing better: We were actually shooed away a few times yesterday during ICSC’s New York National Conference because some major deal-making was going on. The market picture isn’t quite as blurry as the one we snapped of Taubman Centers COO Bill Taubman, who reported that 212M people shopped on Black Friday this year (up 8.7% from last year) and spent $45B, according to the National Retail Federation. Vacancy hasn’t changed much since last quarter, but the number of properties that slipped under 80% declined. Discounters dominated in number of locations and SF, while service providers like Verizon are increasing their share. We’ve also seen an influx of new ideas, like J.Crew and Anthropolgie’s wedding concepts and The Body Shop’s mobile kiosks.|
|We don’t have the official attendee count yet, but it’s safe to say that the Hilton and Sheraton were a lot more bustling than the past two years. Here, the crowd listens intently to Bill (also worldwide chair of ICSC) as he emphasizes management of existing assets over new projects, pointing out vacancy is higher in new centers. And lower-quality locations are suffering from a triple whammy: avoidance from top-tier retailers, abandonment by second-tier stores that are upgrading, and weak consumer spending. Coming up: shorter-lease terms to keep offerings fresh, more food services, sustainability, mixed shopping center formats, and gradual stabilization in ’11.|
|But this year was “fantastic” for others, we learned when we stopped by JLL’s dealmaking room. Managing directors Margaret Caldwell and Kris Cooper report retail investment sales are on the rise, and they’ve been selling many B and C properties to a mix of investors including private, foreign, and REITs. The Atlanta-based duo says many of these deals have been in the South but they’ve sold five malls nationwide, and are coming to market with another one soon. And they’ve received their first preemptive offer in nearly four years but it’s yet to see whether this is the exception or the tip of the iceberg. They’re about to bring Long Island’s grocery-anchored Huntington Square Plaza to market, which they expect to attract about 20 bids and trade at a 6 cap. Also watch for upcoming deals in Harrisburg, Atlanta, the Carolinas, and Louisiana.|
|JLL EVP John Bemis (left, with retail CEO Greg Maloney) also reports an uptick in nationwide retail leasing and development. “This won’t be a shallow climb out but the market is returning,” he says. Many retailers are in a cautious expansion mode, and the general feeling is that retail is moving into positive territory. Even the most discretionary retailers—jewelers—are sparkling: John says that Sterling Jewelers, which owns concepts like Kay and Jared, saw a 9.7% improvement in Q3. He recently facilitated the opening of a Dick’s Sporting Goods at Fox Run Mall in Newington, NH, which is “going gangbusters” and attracting a slew of soccer moms who spend money at the mall’s other stores. He’s also bringing JCPenney to Daly City, Calif.’s Serramonte Center and accessories retailer Charming Charlie to several national locations.|
|It’s Christmas in New York—and when people think holiday shopping here, inevitably, Lord & Taylor is one store that springs to mind. After all, it’s the city’s oldest department store (opened in 1826), was the first with a Fifth Avenue storefront, and introduced the first animated holiday window. Yesterday, Debra Hazel Communications’ Debra Hazel and retail maven Faith Hope Consolo brought in the retailer’s general manager David Clements and SVP of store planning Dominick Ponti to discuss how they reinvented the legendary flagship during an ICSC Women’s Special Interest Group roundtable reception.|
|“We wanted to show everyone what Lord & Taylor was capable of,” said Dominick of the store’s renovations, which turned the store into an experience instead of a normal shopping trip. This included transforming the second floor into its contemporary department, complete with a runway of mannequins modeling the latest fashions. They straightened the aisles of the cosmetic department to make shopping easier, and reinvented the jewelry department to showcase how to wear the baubles. A new Swarovski crystal chandelier hangs over the center of the fragrance department, and letting more sunshine into the store naturally highlights its clothing collections. The home department was also converted to look like a livable space, from set-up furniture to the photo frames on the wall.|