More than 300 industry leaders came together for the Connect Retail West conference held January 25 at Pacific City in Huntington Beach. The afternoon was filled with discussions about innovative retail spaces and how landlords and retailers are staying ahead of the curve as attendees overlooked the Pacific Ocean from the Hurley Store and Surf Club.
Visit Connect Media for an event recap and overview of each session.
Coreland Companies Partner Matt Hammond moderated a mid-afternoon session highlighting the success of neighborhood retail centers. This ‘need-based’ retail category remains at the center of the retail industry, offering a balance of the needed conveniences of everyday life.
Panelists, including Irvine Company’s Peter Moersch, Newmark Merrill’s Susan Rorison and Michael Lagazo of SRS Real Estate Partners, agreed that the continued success of neighborhood centers relies heavily on teamwork between tenant and landlord.
“We understand that for one of our retail centers to truly become the ‘village’ of the neighborhood, we have to implement programs to support this connectivity, whether it is done through technology, events, tenant engagement or customer service,” shared Moersch.
“We do all we can to try and understand our customers and provide our retailers the tools to leverage this information,” said Rorison. “We take a very grassroots approach to our marketing efforts with technology at the core. As owners, we want to make sure marketing dollars invested are driving traffic and driving sales.”
While each property might have a different marketing approach, tenant engagement is a fundamental component. The goal is to make all efforts to understand tenants and their customers in order to inform critical leasing decisions when needed.
“We work to focus on merchandising for what our customers want, always evaluating the future tenant mix,” said Moersch. “It’s easy to get caught up with the latest tenants, but keeping a balance with tenants who continue to offer something special in the market is important. Apparel is softer, but not gone.”
“The consumer is much more educated than ever before,” said Lagazo. “Even the neighborhood daily-needs center has to compete for shoppers. However, a strong holiday season showcased that many retailers are figuring out how to leverage both brick-and-mortar and online sales.”
Hammond noted that the 2017 holiday season was “one of the best” experienced, and said that the fact that 4,000 new stores opened in 2017 reflects just how resilient the retail sector really is.