Retail: Love it or loose it

By: LeAnn Hume, CCIM, CLS, is Managing Director – Retail/Investment Specialist with Cushman & Wakefield | Commerce leann.hume@comre.com

Originally published in the Boise CCIM 2014 Directory

Retail is at the center of our economy. Whether we like it or not, consumerism fuels our growth and depending on its strength can affect all other aspects of commercial real estate. I am quite certain my husband wishes I liked retail less than I do, but after 16 years of helping retailers select locations, I can’t help but support their efforts to add to our economy.

The Treasure Valley is in a very interesting position. Having the 600,000+ mark for population in our trade area, we are now on the radar for many exciting entries into the marketplace. New entries to the market mean job growth that leads to a vibrant Treasure Valley. However, once they arrive, they will need to be supported. If we continue to save a few dollars by shopping online, there is no telling what the ultimate price will be to our local economy. Online sales threaten to affect brick and mortar retail and ultimately our valley’s prosperity, unless the retailers themselves can craft a solution to get consumers back into their stores. Efforts are underway by brick and mortar retailers to utilize targeted mobile couponing and discounts with handheld devices to attract shoppers. Retailers are also scrambling to provide an experience for the consumer that keeps them away from their computers and coming into their stores.

Solid site selection, strong co-tenancy, proper merchandising and expertly negotiated leases will help those new entries to the market survive and win in the Treasure Valley. Nation-wide, the prognosis is good. Consumer confidence seems to be high with no indications of waning. The retailers thriving appear to be those on two opposite ends of the spectrum. Luxury retailers providing high quality products such as Michael Kors and Lululemon are expanding both the number of their locations and their bottom line. Also thriving are the value retailers such as Costco and Ross. Left in the cold are the middle-ground retailers such as JCPenny. The company recently announced closing 33 stores.

As residents of the Treasure Valley, we have an incredible opportunity to come together as a community to enjoy the experiences that have been provided to us for retail, food and entertainment. The Village at Meridian is bringing dozens of new retailers to the market and provides a quality family experience, while downtown Boise is thriving with this addition of several new concepts such as Ruth’s Chris Steak House, 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bodovino, The Mode Lounge, and Swank Boutique.

We live in an incredible and special place. The ideal scenario for our future is for our market to grow and our economy to thrive, but not at the expense of our quality of life. Retailers’ growth plans are generated by consumer demand and space is subsequently created. The changing consumer will have an effect on retail space in the next decade. The opportunity for us is to continue to support those retailers and restaurants who have made an investment in our local market and who provide our residents with excellent products and service.

“Buy Local” takes on a whole new meaning when you consider the potential fallout. If we do not support our local restaurants and retailers, their presence in our market has a very good chance of either reducing or going away altogether. Whether they are local companies, regional or national – they all contribute to our economy and their success either fuels our growth or impedes new entries into the market. Although there is a part of me that resists fueling consumerism, I will continue to do my part to support the local economy while also providing sound advice to retailers on the best approach for their success when it comes to site selection and lease negotiations.

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