Optimism reigns at ICSC’s RECon in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS — Optimism reigns at RECon 2013 as retailers, developers, lenders and brokers converge on Las Vegas for the retail real estate industry’s biggest annual global event. With consumer confidence and spending both on the rise, commercial brokers that focus on retail property are encouraged by the optimism and vibrancy of this year’s convention. This week at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ RECon show in Las Vegas, local retail leasing expert Michael Martz of Hayes Commercial Group reports that this was clearly the best show since the recession.

With 32,000 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 Randi Zuckerberg (former Marketing Director at Facebook), RECon is a bustling marketplace where brokers representing shopping centers and retail chains meet to make deals.

“There is much more optimism and energy at this year’s convention,” Martz said. “Attendance is way up and retailers are in expansion mode again – with many who have their sights set on Santa Barbara.”

The recession brought widespread store closures by national store chains, but the tide has turned; current indicators and activity at the conference suggest that the phase of scaling back has drawn to a close and retailers are actively rolling out new plans for expansion in key markets. This is good news for shopping centers and retail property owners on the South Coast, as increased demand for retail space generally favors landlords.

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. “My reading of this year’s show confirms what our local market data indicate: commercial real estate markets are continuing to recover, with vacancy rates declining and rental rates rising.”