The Official ICSC Blog and the Voice of the Retail Real Estate Industry

The Official ICSC Blog

February 20, 2014

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Don’t count department stores out, GGP chief says


Write no obituaries for JCPenney or Sears just yet, General Growth Properties CEO Sandeep Mathrani advised his listeners at an SCTLive forum in New York City last Friday. “People forget, Americans still shop at Sears,” he said. Indeed, at $40 billion in 2012, Sears’ sales dwarf those of many prominent retailers, he noted, including Macy’s ($28 billion), Penney ($13 billion), Dillard’s ($6.8 billion) and Belk ($4 billion). Sears is in the vanguard of retailers developing an online model, drawing on its own experience as a catalog retailer, Mathrani said. He also cautioned against underestimating the capabilities of Sears Chairman and CEO Edward S. Lampert. Penney, too, will remain on the retail landscape, Mathrani predicts. “They could have more finance issues, but we think Penney will still be part of the retail fabric,” he said.

Nor has the vacating of the big-box spaces of Penney, Sears and others posed a problem for General Growth, Mathrani noted. Of the 76 empty boxes the firm had across its portfolio in 2011, only two remain vacant today, he said.Write no obituaries for JCPenney or Sears just yet, General Growth Properties CEO Sandeep Mathrani advised his listeners at an SCTLive forum in New York City last Friday. “People forget, Americans still shop at Sears,” he said. Indeed, at $40 billion in 2012, Sears’ sales dwarf those of many prominent retailers, he noted, including Macy’s ($28 billion), Penney ($13 billion), Dillard’s ($6.8 billion) and Belk ($4 billion). Sears is in the vanguard of retailers developing an online model, drawing on its own experience as a catalog retailer, Mathrani said. He also cautioned against underestimating the capabilities of Sears Chairman and CEO Edward S. Lampert. Penney, too, will remain on the retail landscape, Mathrani predicts. “They could have more finance issues, but we think Penney will still be part of the retail fabric,” he said.

Mathrani questioned the threat from online sales, asserting that Internet retail is a greater challenge to catalog retailers than to brick-and-mortar stores. Malls and stores have a vital role to play in the Internet retail revolution, Mathrani said, pointing to the large proportion of shoppers that embrace omni-channel retail by opting to pick up online purchases at stores. Moreover, he said, online retailers seem to be discovering that they need to open conventional stores to survive; General Growth has staff people scouring the web for promising online retail candidates for mall stores.

February 14, 2014

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Congrats To Our Two New Community Service Award Winners!

The ICSC Foundation is proud to honor two more shopping center developers with Community Service Awards. The ICSC Foundation awards shopping centers from around the globe for their charitable efforts with the Community Support Awards.
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In the Asia Pacific, the Link Management Limited, based out of Kowloon, Hong Kong, won for their “The Link Community Sports Academy” campaign that promoted and raised awareness of the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle. The Link established the sports academies, with the aim of fostering a sense of teamwork, community, health and social inclusion throughout each community that a Link shopping center is located in. The sports academy provided free sports training to more than 1,500 participants, including those with disabilities. In addition to the award, the ICSC Foundation will contribute $5,000 USD to the Hong Kong Blind Sports Federation which will use the contribution to sponsor their blind soccer team.
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In the Middle East & North Africa, Arabian Centres, in Saudi Arabia, won for their “Fighting Breast Cancer” campaign. Through their partnership with the Zahra Breast Cancer Association, Arabian Centres set up diagnosis booths at each of their malls, giving women throughout Saudi Arabia access to early detection testing, free of charge. The centres also launched a pink-themed campaign to raise awareness and provide crucial information that can help save lives. In addition to the award, the ICSC Foundation will contribute $5,000 USD to the Zahra Breast Cancer Association.

Two regional competitions’ deadlines are approaching. In Europe, the deadline is March is 7th and the award ceremony is at the SOLAL Awards in Amsterdam. United States competition runs until March 17th and the winner will be announced at RECon.

Apply your chance to be recognized and win these prestigious awards!

February 11, 2014

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Industry Infographic – February 11

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The ICSC Industry Snapshot is a bi-weekly report presented as an info-graphic; produced by ICSC’s Communications department. This dashboard presents an overview of key industry metrics in an easy to follow and visually pleasing format, so that the user can quickly navigate it and take away a high-level view of industry performance. Furthermore, the dashboard is presented in a mobile format so that the user can easily access it on their smartphone or tablet. Each installment of the snapshot features; U.S Shopping Center sales, Weekly U.S. Chain Store Sales, Shopping Center NOI by Area, the latest ICSC Shopping Center Executive Survey, CMBS Delinquency Rates, U.S. Chain-Store Sales by Segment, U.S. Shopping Center NOI by Type, U.S. Shopping Center Jobs, and other Shopping Center Facts.

February 10, 2014

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Pop Up Shop uses Twitter/Instagram as Currency

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BY: Sarah Ritchie,

A few years ago “Bit Coin” made a splash in the online shopping world.  BitCoin represented a unique way to purchase online items—through a newly devised currency that had nothing to do with greenbacks.  A variation on this theme can be found at the new Marc Jacobs Daisy pop-up store in the SoHo neighborhood of New York; for, tweeting and other social media postings are the currency o trade.

The store was open for only three days, to coincide with the famed NYC fashion week.  The pop-up store capitalized on the vast social media community that Jacobs had already built.  Here’s how it works: customers use their Twitter and Instagram accounts to promote the pop-up shop.  And, In exchange for posts with the #MJDaisyChain hashtag, customers are rewarded with free perfume samples.   Consumers sharing particularly clever messages were eligible for handbag giveaways—worth many hundreds of dollars.

Enthusiastically embracing the power of social media, Jacobs knew that his Daisy fragrance routinely generated the most customer engagement, compared to other products in his lines.  By piggy-backing on the existing social networks of his customers, he was able to create palpable “buzz” about the merchandise giveaway and multiply exponentially the number of people learning about the store.  Moreover, by creating a pop-up store that was open for such a brief period, he created a scarce, time-limited opportunity that swept people into the store.

Retailers are now on their way to understanding and mobilizing social media tools aimed at drawing customers to their stores and driving up sales.  No doubt, many retail leaders will be looking to this innovative strategy created by Marc Jacobs as a possible lesson in viral marketing—one that they might wish to employ.

January 28, 2014

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ICSC Industry Infographic – January 28

Infographic_Mobile
The ICSC Industry Snapshot is a bi-weekly report presented as an info-graphic; produced by ICSC’s Communications department. This dashboard presents an overview of key industry metrics in an easy to follow and visually pleasing format, so that the user can quickly navigate it and take away a high-level view of industry performance. Furthermore, the dashboard is presented in a mobile format so that the user can easily access it on their smartphone or tablet. Each installment of the snapshot features; U.S Shopping Center sales, Weekly U.S. Chain Store Sales, Shopping Center NOI by Area, the latest ICSC Shopping Center Executive Survey, CMBS Delinquency Rates, U.S. Chain-Store Sales by Segment, U.S. Shopping Center NOI by Type, U.S. Shopping Center Jobs, and other Shopping Center Facts.

January 10, 2014

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Time Is Running Out! Apply for ICSC Foundation Scholarships

The ICSC Foundation’s professional development scholarships are closing in just over a weeks. It is time to apply for either the John T. Riordan Professional Education Scholarship or the Planigrupo Latin American Fellowship in Honor of Milton Cooper and Dave Henry.
Several of our past scholarship recipients have been kind enough to share their experiences and tell you why you should apply.
Sam Kallmerten 2
Sam Kallmerten
Brixmor Property Group
Boston, Massachusetts
 
The JTR Scholarship gives you the opportunity to network with retail real estate professionals from across the country, discussing best practices, the business environment for their region, etc. The other students I met at the school in Scottsdale have become lasting relationships, and resources for professional growth.

There is absolutely nothing to lose in applying.  It takes a few hours to complete the application, and have the chance to be granted a full expense paid trip to beautiful Scottsdale and Las Vegas to improve your skills, network with like-minded individuals, and add to your professional resume.
 Brianna Hansen with Kieran Quinn 2
Brianna Miller
Thornton Oliver Keller
Boise, Idaho

As someone who pays attention to all of my business expenses because I am 100% commission and relatively new to the industry, I was on the fence about investing in attending the Leasing II course this year. These courses are worth your time and money, as they are compact with information and industry tips you can’t get from a textbook. It was great to meet other up and coming real estate professionals and swap stories about their markets and companies. I highly recommend this school and plan on attending this year.
Federico Talavera with Michael Kercheval 1
Federico Talavera   
Los Bravos Development Group
Chihuahua, Mexico
 
It’s a great opportunity to learn, to share experiences and to network with high level industry leaders. Don’t miss out!!
Natalie Champion 2
Natalie Champion
Rouse Properties, Inc.
Dallas, Texas

I met and formed relationships with junior and senior industry professionals. I was able to connect with several retailers through the friends that I made at the conference. Great experience! I recommend to all.

The deadline is January 20th for both the JTR Scholarship and the Planigrupo Fellowship. Benefits of both include all expenses paid trip to a John T. Riordan School for Retail Real Estate Professionals and to an award ceremony at RECon.

Check out an interview with Danaria Farris McCoy, CDM, CSM who shared her JTR experience.

January 9, 2014

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The Winding Academic Paths to a Career in Retail Real Estate

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By: Sarah Ritchie
Over the last several years, there has been a rapid expansion in academic degrees focused specifically on the real estate discipline.  The curricula and programs vary and include undergraduate and graduate degrees, interdisciplinary real estate development programs (often in schools of planning or architecture), and finance-driven majors, located in business schools.  While it is natural that students interested in jobs in real estate (and retail real estate specifically) would gravitate to these degree-granting programs, I hope this posting will serve as a reminder to young people engaged in other areas of study:  they, too, should consider this field as a career option.  This point was made—by both Michael Kercheval, President & CEO of ICSC, and Jason Greenstone, a member of the retail services team at Cushman & Wakefield—to a recent group of University of Oklahoma MBA students visiting ICSC during their winter break.  Like so many other business students in America, the students are matriculating with general business coursework, containing little emphasis (comparatively speaking) on real estate.  As an OU alumn, I am most certainly prejudiced, but I believe our industry would welcome them with open arms. 

The small group of students are the “cream of the crop,” if you will, from the OU Price School of Business.  These “Price Scholars” enjoy full financial scholarships to underwrite their MBA studies, in addition to other educational opportunities.  For example, this summer they will be in New York, taking classes at the NYU Stern School of Business and working at internship positions around Manhattan. The intellectual history of the OU Business School, coupled with its location in an oil and natural gas rich state, leads the university to focus on energy related classes, in conjunction with general business courses.  The study of retailing and real estate is nominally included in a variety of classes during the two-year program. Yet, we all encouraged these young people to join ICSC’s student membership program and learn more about the field.

Over the lifetime of the ICSC student membership program, we have embraced student participants from a vast array of academic disciplines:  architecture, law, economics, marketing, fashion/art, and the social sciences, among others, standing side-by-side with general business students and those specializing in real estate and development.  These young people attend all sorts of schools—large universities with free-standing real estate programs, but also smaller schools and liberal arts colleges that do not have such academic opportunities.  ALL are welcome.

As I make this argument, I need only draw from the experiences of top-leaders in the industry to show that not all industry leaders studied retailing and real estate during their university days.  While some “grew up” in the family-owned shopping center businesses and others set out on an academic program in real estate, many did not.  These personal stories of serendipitous opportunities in retail real estate have become a familiar theme in many of our presentations and seminars, organized for young people.

Consider, for example, the story of Michael E. McCarty, now an Executive Vice President for Simon Properties, the world’s largest owner of shopping centers.  Having been raised in a family of modest means, McCarty admits that he didn’t enjoy the prospect of attending college.  Rather, after graduating high school, he worked in restaurant management.  Through some twists and turns of fate, he eventually took a very low-level position in shopping center management and has literally worked his way up the Simon corporate ladder, obviously with lots of innate “smarts,” creativity, grit and determination.  Or take the case of Mary Lou Fiala, the recently retired President and COO of Regency Centers, a REIT based in Jacksonville, Florida.  After completing a college degree in retailing at Miami University in Ohio (a degree she earned while raising a young family), she had a long career working for a number of large retailers like Macy’s Federated.  Only later in her career, was she recruited by Regency—and subsequently trained by the company, to learn the nuances of leading a REIT from a retailer’s perspective.  Fiala demonstrated such success that she was eventually elected to serve as the global board chair of ICSC.  She was only the third woman to hold that position in ICSC’s 50+ year history.  Finally, the career path of Sandeep Mathrani has a similar theme.  Mathrani, now the President & CEO of GGP, the behemoth shopping center company based in Chicago, was trained as an engineer (he earned his undergraduate degree in engineering and a master’s in management science at Stevens Institute of Technology).  His real estate education was personal—as he says, he “flipped a house” as a young professional.  With money in his pocket from the transaction, the rest, as they say, was history.

Don’t get me wrong…there are obvious benefits of a real estate degree, from the perspective of students and employers, but that need not be the only path to entering this exciting field.  So, again we say welcome to student members of all academic interests.  Who knows where this industry may lead you.

See more about the Price Scholars visit in the video clip below.

January 6, 2014

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SeeItFit partners with retailers to bring consumers a virtual dressing room


Written by: John Crossman

With “selfie” selected as the word of 2013, it seems a new website has taken the term as a call to action.  SeeItFit.com, launched in November 2013, promoting ecommerce by providing a new online shopping experience.  By partnering with retailers to create a virtual dressing room, users can upload a personal full-body photo to “try on” selected fashion items and share via their personal social media channels or post to the site’s public gallery.
 
The site’s focus personalizes ecommerce by helping online shoppers get real time feedback on the proverbial fashion question: “How does it look?” SeeItFit offers customized options for retailer partners, including allowing shoppers to see an item on before making a purchase, and getting size and accessory recommendations.  SeeItFit’s founders believe the seeing and sharing aspect of their site and easy integration for retailers are industry game changers.  While the site is young, SeeItFit contends it is a solution for retailers to increase conversion rates, decrease returns and capture some of the $18+B left in online shopping carts each year.
 
SeeItFit offers retailers up-sale opportunities as users add to their virtual closets and get feedback from friends and targeted marketing from retailers.  The site is free.
 
Other sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Snap Chat have succeeded in the free photo sharing model, but we’ve not yet seen this take hold in an online retail “virtual try on” arena.  There are many companies forging into online shopping augment reality solutions.  SeeItFit does not offer avatars.  They encourage users to upload a picture, see items on and share the looks.  SeeItFit currently provides a number of retailers, including brands like Zara, Under Armor, Lord & Taylor and Banana Republic.  This company is one to watch this year and could be the long-needed solution to online shopping.