We recently attended the annual Colorado Real Estate Journal Retail Summit and Expo here in Denver, which is an annual conference that highlights current trends in retail and an outlook on the future. The main takeaway we learned is that retail centers are not dead yet and are focusing heavily on restaurants, customer experience, and fitness.
The type of restaurants now going into retail centers are smaller than they were in the past. They are either locally owned or owned by large chains looking to create a local experience. People are craving unique and authentic experiences, and the large chains are finding creative ways to provide it.
Customer experience has become a top focus of retailers in an attempt to draw customers out of their homes and into physical stores. Retailers are offering a more interactive experience, top-notch customer service, and are more technology focused.
In the past, fitness being included in shopping centers was a non-starter as owners looked for cohesiveness between their offerings and how to keep customers at their retail centers longer. When it came to fitness, the assumption was that customers would not want to work out and get sweaty and then do their shopping. This trend is now changing. Larger fitness chains are becoming a great avenue for filling the empty big box spots we see popping up around town.
Overall, the main difference between retail centers of the past and current retail centers is the shift in focus to restaurants, fitness, and customer experience. This shift, along with the exponential growth Denver has been experiencing, will continue to be beneficial for urban retailers for the foreseeable future.