A Changing Landscape for Retail Centers: ICSC’s Envision 2020 Report

As American icons such as Macy’s struggle to remain relevant, the old models of large-format retail stores are being redefined in “real time.”

We can probably all relate to changes in our daily lives as we adapt to the many aspects of “virtual” connectedness, as opposed to physical presence and direct contact. Nowhere is this phenomenon more tangible than in the world of retail, where online shopping has brought on-demand service and doorstep delivery to the masses.

Retail Trends—ICSC’s Envision 2020 Report

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) has documented many of the emergent retail trends through their Board of Trustees’ recent Envision 2020 report, “The Future of the Shopping Center Industry.” This report supports that today, much of the retail industry is now available from home with the touch of a button and 48-hour (or less) delivery. This means that the function of brick-and-mortar shopping must offer a physical and social engagement experience that is meaningful for people. It also means that the supportable gross square footage of single-purpose retail may be less overall, resulting in the places where we develop retail being more likely to include complimentary land uses.

“The function of brick-and-mortar shopping must offer a physical and social engagement experience that is meaningful for people.”

ICSC’s Envision 2020 Report—A Common Theme of Community

As part of the future strategy of retail, ICSC points towards the importance of re-stitching retail into the physical and social fabric of community. In the future, retail will more likely be incorporated into a healthy mix of uses to diversify former single-use retail centers. While the exact positioning will be based on local conditions, the overarching goal will be to create a more balanced real estate asset that enjoys the ability to leverage combined uses (e.g., hotel, next to office, next to residential, next to food and beverage, and next to entertainment). This type of model takes on many more attributes of community. And while mixed-use real estate may make a project more complex, it also puts a stronger emphasis on a sense of place and an increased level of authenticity to the local community, which today’s shoppers desire.

Brick-and-Mortar Retail—Providing an Authentic Experience

I believe there will always be a place for physical shopping, interacting directly with sales people, and touching the product. But, for brick-and-mortar retail centers to exist in the future, they must simultaneously be aligned with the new virtual landscape while delivering a more authentic, relevant experience for the adjacent community. Otherwise, why would anyone go to a physical store when the world is available at their fingertips with the click of a button at home?

At GAI Consultants (GAI), we view the emergent retail trends in ICSC’s Envision 2020 report as a path to a better model of livability and urban planning in the next 30 years. These are exciting but challenging ideas to consider for the future!

Learn more about ICSC’s Board of Trustees’ Envision 2020 initiative. For additional information on GAIs mixed-use retail and urban planning services, contact Senior Director Pete Sechler, AICP, PLA at 407.423.8398.

For related information, check out the following blog posts:
Commercial Project Lifecycle: From Concept Plan to Reality | July 21, 2016

Retail Concept Plans: More Than Pretty Pictures | April 5, 2016

The Power of the Millennial | February 2, 2016

Is Traditional Brick-And-Mortar Shopping Dead? | March 17, 2015

Learn More.