After a nearly 30-month hiatus, the ICSC Mid-Atlantic Dealmaking Conference returned to the Washington, D.C. area last month, with several thousand retail developers, brokerage professionals, service providers and vendors participating in various educational seminars, leasing meetings and networking events. We asked participants to sum up their particular insights of the retail industry using just one word.
“I think everyone is struggling to figure out where pricing should be and, in fact, no one really knows. There is a lot of disagreement about where pricing is heading, but there is a consensus about the fact that given interest rates and costs no one has total conviction which way things are heading. The current situation seems to be placing many real estate investment decisions on hold and adding significant uncertainty to almost every aspect of our industry.”
—David Bramble, Managing Partner and Co-Founder, MCB Real Estate
“We are still seeing strong activity in the retail industry, as demonstrated by the buzzing energy and the high attendance — many retailers and brokers are here in deal-making mode. However, deals are taking longer to complete as retailers are more carefully negotiating terms, keeping in mind continuing challenges with regards to labor markets, the rising cost of goods, escalating interest rates, and consumers showing signs of getting a bit more conservative on spending. Through it all, retail remains resilient and tenants are looking to grow with more locations.”
—Bill Holzman, Vice President, Retail Leasing, St. John Properties, Inc.
“More than any other trait, you need to be innovative to thrive in this challenging environment, with a possible recession looming, to go after the customer and give them what they want, including the best price and the highest value. To remain successful, it is vital for retailers to have an omnichannel presence so consumers have multiple options to find you and buy products and services.”
—Mark Millman, Founder and CEO, Millman Search Group
“There is constant change in our industry, as well as uncertainty and instability with retail/restaurant hiring and supply chains. Technologies used by both retailers and landlords are continuously evolving and consumers, based on fluctuating economic conditions, are teetering between optimism and skepticism.”
—Patricia Palumbo, Director of Leasing, Klein Enterprises
“Consumer demand remains steady and has generally returned to pre-pandemic conditions, with some existing lag in the sit-down restaurant category. We are living and operating in an environment with a high barrier to entry and, although everyone remains hopeful this will continue, it is important for retailers to constantly reinvent themselves to adjust and remain relevant.”
—Mark Renbaum, Principal, MLR Partners
“Coming out of the pandemic and an economic slowdown, there is always hope that retail real estate will return to the type of glory days that people remember having in the past. At events such as this one sponsored by ICSC, there is always eternal optimism present on the convention floor. Brokers, by their nature, all always optimistic about the future as well.”
—John Schultz, Senior Vice President and Principal, MacKenzie Retail