I recently speculated that retail must be back. I just attended the ICSC Idea Exchange in Columbus, Ohio and got further support for this idea.
Robert Myers, Chief Operating Officer of Philips Edison & Company, said they were now seeing increased occupancy rates in the mid 90% with positive absorption, low interest rates on lending, and high prices on sale. He also said attendance at ICSC events is up.
I met several smart ambitious young guys just getting into retail brokerage. I would not have thought this a good career path just a couple of years ago, so it is instructive to see smart guys choosing to enter the field.
I saw several new retailers looking for new locations. One of them was Fusian – think Chipotle does Sushi. Great idea and great place to eat if you haven’t tried it yet or it hasn’t come to your town yet.
Easton was jamming on a Tuesday night. Most restaurants had a wait – we ate at Cooper’s Hawk and didn’t mind the wait since we drank a couple glasses of wine. Cooper’s Hawk is another great concept. They make their own wine, which is better than you think, and the food was tremendous. But the retail stores were busy too – with a line waiting to get into Victoria’s Secret (although that may have had something to do with the fact they had a Victoria’s Secret model there).
In fact Easton is expanding. The new Easton Gateway is well under construction. I went into the new Dick’s there which opened ahead of the Center. Must say it may be the best sporting goods store I have ever been in.
And the mood of the conference was markedly upbeat, which in and of itself is a change. So maybe cautious optimism is the appropriate byline.