There was plenty to take in during ICSC’s RECon New York virtual conference last week. Here are the highlights.
The holiday spending period will continue to stretch because it’s in the best interest of retailers, said Nordstrom vice president of real estate John Dolson. “There’s only so much capacity in the shipping channel if everybody orders on the same day. The retailers have to spread out the demand so the supply chain can handle that.”
Retailers will shift investments to omnichannel customer service and interaction, said The Container Store vice president of real estate Valerie Richardson. “We need those tools so we can have relationships with customers who need those services but are shopping in multiple dimensions.”
Expect an SKU reckoning at major retail chains. “Some things are not selling, even in the midst of a pandemic, and we’re noticing,” said Walmart chief administration officer, executive vice president and regional CEO JP Suarez.
Plexiglas is not fashionable. Nordstrom had to experiment to find the right balance between glamour and hygiene. “Too much Plexiglass can make a shopper not want to buy that dress,” Dolson said.
Retailers need to get their returns under control to save profits, said Streetsense restaurants director Adam Williamowsky. Many retailers are advising customers to keep any product they wished to return because it would be more expensive for the retailer to take it back by mail or delivery. “The resale market is growing 20 times faster than the apparel market. They’re just talking about sales of new goods. If you layer onto that the resale of used goods like eBay … how is all that going to impact the fulfillment chain?”
It’s possible to activate common areas by entertaining customers even under COVID-19 restrictions, said Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield vice president of U.S. center marketing Lili Fakhari. “People have been locked inside for months. Give them a safe environment to come to where they can have fun like in the past.” Fakhari suggests outdoor dining and viewings for movies, sports and award shows, all following COVID-19 safety protocols.
Pay close attention to your property taxes. “Communicate with your tax professionals regularly,” said Raider Hill Advisors vice president of property management Joshua Bruff. “Ask your consultant to bring biweekly status reports and host frequent calls. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their valuation practices. The more intimately the tax consultant knows the property, the better they will be able to advise you.” Though many jurisdictions did not account for the impact of COVID-19 in their 2020 assessments, owners and managers should document vacancies and declining performance in their markets.