What will the stores of the future be like? Will there even be stores? As shopping centers evolve, what types of new tenants will they be looking for to build traffic? What are the current trends driving our industry and when will the disruption end?
These are just a few of the questions that have been top of mind for the more than 30,000 attendees at the 2019 International Council of Shopping Centers’ RECon convention this week in Las Vegas.
While no one can predict the future, after attending this event over the past eight years, I’m feeling optimistic about brick-and-mortar retail these days. Yes, I’m aware that the industry has continued to see major store closures amid bankruptcies and a couple of big liquidations.
Although the growth of online sales is forecasted to rise, the trends of buying online to pick up in-store and click and collect – two areas of e-commerce that are growing the most by far – will still require stores. IHL Group predicts that online will be 24% of the total retail market by 2021, but 80% of all retail will have a store fulfillment component.
What I learned this week is that the disruption facing our industry will continue but retailers are more prepared to adapt to future changes. Smaller format stores will continue to grow in popularity, pureplay will look for physical storefronts and the consumer will continue to drive new technology and innovation both online and off.
The changes we have seen over the past few years are just the tip of the iceberg. I can’t think of a more exciting – or innovative – time in retail.