LAS VEGAS — With consumer confidence and spending both on the rise, commercial brokers that focus on retail property are hopeful that the long post-recession hangover is finally lifting from the real estate market. That hope is readily apparent this week at the Intenational Council of Shopping Centers’ RECon show in Las Vegas, according to the three local brokers in attendance. Michael Martz, Kristopher Roth, and Pamela Scott of Hayes Commercial Group report both increased excitement and attendance at the show compared to recent years.
With over 30,000 attendees and more than 1,000 exhibitors, RECon is the world’s largest convention for the real estate industry. In addition to presentations by analysts and a keynote address by Malcolm Gladwell, RECon is a bustling marketplace where brokers representing shopping centers and retail chains meet to make deals. ICSC’s president, Michael Kercheval, reports that attendance at the conference has surpassed the prior two years.
“There is more energy this year,” Michael Martz said. “In recent years, in the depths of the downturn, the big real estate companies sent skeleton crews to RECon. This year the booths are larger and fully staffed, and many companies are hosting parties again.”
The recession brought widespread store closures by national store chains, but current indicators and activity at the conference suggest that the phase of scaling back is drawing to a close and retailers are beginning to roll out new plans for expansion. This is good news for shopping centers and retail property owners on the South Coast, as increased demand for retail space generally favors landlords. However, unlike in the years prior to the recession, most of the current demand is in small- and mid-sized concepts.
Over their many years at the conference, the Hayes Commercial brokers have found a correlation between activity at RECon and the leasing that happens on the South Coast. “We see RECon as a barometer of the retail market at the national and global level, which gives us additional perspective on our local markets,” Martz said. “Our reading of this year’s show confirms what our local market data indicate: commercial real estate markets are continuing to recover gradually, and we are optimistic that the trend will continue.”