Author: Kevin Schmoldt | Newmark Knight Frank
ICSC Recon is the largest retail real estate conference in the world. Held each year in Las Vegas, it’s an event that anyone who touches retail real estate can’t afford to miss. Retailers, brokers, contractors, attorneys, developers, landlords and other specialties find immense value in attending along with 40,000 other professionals from around the globe. For some, it’s a deal making session where leases are negotiated, for others it is about building new relationships and being face-to-face with national clients. Many attendees find value in seminars and panel discussions from industry experts and thought leaders. It is difficult to articulate scope, scale and value of this conference.
This year marked my tenth year of attendance, which is a substantial milestone but pales in comparison to some our industry veterans with 25+ years in the books. Aside from the valuable meetings, learning opportunities and a few moments of leisure – I have always used the conference as a barometer for the tone and health of our industry. I recall years during the recession when attendance was low, meetings were less frequent, and the expression on most faces was morose. In more recent years, attendance has been near all-time highs and the masses have been rushing from booth to booth for pre-scheduled meetings with a bounce in their step.
Takeaways from this year?
- Attendance was +/- 36,000 – slightly above average
- More retail exhibitors than in years past, namely new brands present for experiential retail concepts and hospitality.
- Tone was positive but enthusiasm was tempered.
- Landlords and brokers are busy keeping attorneys and contractors busy by leasing vacancies in existing centers with strong brands who reap the benefits associated with the failure of certain retail concepts.
- Everyone is struggling to make the numbers work for new construction. The cost of raw materials and labor is up, and retailers have opportunities at a lower cost in existing centers as some tenants transition. New construction is occurring, but the deals are thin.
- Investors are holding their breath. This recovery period has been longer than most and retail shopping centers have been stigmatized as a risky investment.
- Many private and institutional investors are returning to the asset class, given the level of competition for other segments such as multi-family or industrial. Realizing that the headlines featuring retail closures are deceiving, and that retail is more stable than perceived – many are open to buy.
Kevin joined the company in 2009 as a Sales Associate, was promoted to Vice President in 2013 and Senior Vice President as of 2015. His responsibilities include leasing retail properties, the representation of local and national retailers, property acquisition and land development.
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