Retail shopping center owners, tenants and consumers are experiencing an unprecedented economic crunch. In short, all three are drifting in the same boat.
The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), publishes a “Shopping Habits Report” in the first quarter following the end of a calendar year.
As a retail leasing specialist, I digested the entire 2009 report, subtitled, How the Recession has Impacted Consumer Shopping Habits, and discovered that indeed center owners need to be on top of the consumer game.
The “2009 Shopping Habits Report” contains invaluable information about the future consumer trends that will impact center owners, whether large or small in size.
You can read the report for yourself and draw your own conclusions. However, three things stuck out to me in the report:
- 58% of consumers believe their income will stay the same or become significantly less in 2010
- Most consumers have and will continue to throttle their discretionary spending through 2010
- Strip centers and “Lifestyle Centers” attract the highest frequency of repeat traffic
For those of you who are my clients, I want to briefly focus on the strip center/lifestyle traffic models, which run in the 70-75% repeat traffic level. In 2010 and 2011, my Company, is seizing on the concept of “life-styling” centers that have a higher than normal tenant mix by creating “Center Websites” that serve as a marketing destination point for Broker and tenant inquiries and present a center personality to the viewers.
I am working with clients to help them discover and communicate the flavor and theme of a center to prospective tenants via a unique center website. Village at the Boulders is an example of a “Center Website” that communicates lifestyle and quality of tenant mix. It’s hard work to create this themematic message but the end result is an organic marketing message that can serve the leasing needs, tenant needs and of course, the pride of belonging to the mix.
For owners who have nominal number of national brands or, none at all, the concept still has credibility to the leasing and promotional effort because local strip centers that serve small businesses, pizza outlets, exercise studios, coffee shops and an ethnic restaurant can create a local lifestyle image.
The sites also serve as the focal point for Broker-to-Broker dialogue. One of the most powerful features of the “Center Website” is its “PULL” or “SEPARATION” feature. Owners are looking for ways to differentiate their properties and this is but one way to do so.
The spending habits of consumers will continue to remain in flux until we see a restoration of confidence in the economy. In the meantime, I continue to ask my Owner/Clients to look at “out-of-the-box” models that can create more leasing opportunities and a higher consumer traffic count.
In addition, larger centers NEED and SHOULD create center marketing events that can draw large number of consumers to their centers in order to provide exposure and predisposition for repeat visits.
My team at Arizona Commercial is looking at marketing models that join the “Center Website” to tenant exposure, high traffic consumer events and thus create the old fashioned “Win-Win-Win” for owners, tenants and consumers.
“DOWNLOAD THE 2009 SHOPPING HABITS REPORT” and above all, read it and find ways to recreate your marketing approach for 2010-11.
One thing that will not work is sitting still.
Donald Teel is a Senior Associate with Arizona Commercial, an Arizona commercial brokerage and property management firm. Need more information? Please call (928) 777-8100 or, if you prefer, you may email Donald Teel