What Are Your RECon Thoughts?

We heard a lot of different things at our appointments at this year’s ICSC convention in Las Vegas.

“People are busier than ever.” “There is significantly less traffic.” “We are totally booked with appointments.” “Not as many retailers are showing up.” “The downturn will end by the end of the year.” “It’s not getting better for at least another couple years.” “The consumer is bouncing back.” “Don’t expect apparel sales to improve any time soon.”

Our thoughts are that, yes, the place seemed less busy than in recent years, especially in some of the sessions that we attended. But if this had been our first time, and some first-timers we spoke with concurred, we’d think the place was pretty damn crowded.

The main message we took away is that growth has slowed due to retailer cutbacks and some projects aren’t getting built as quickly because of financing issues. But is it realistic to think an industry will, or even should, have major exponential growth every year?

Also, it was really, really hot outside for the first couple days, which really sucks for those of us who have to wear suits.


6 Responses to “What Are Your RECon Thoughts?”

  1. 1 Dave May 22, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    Despite the state of things, I found it astonishing to repeatedly hear from participants the old “we’re having our best year ever”. It is so cliched.

  2. 2 Dan H (commercial mortgage broker) May 23, 2008 at 10:45 am

    I believe the lead time for the exhibitors commitment and planning for conference (developers and tenants) is sufficiently long as to dampen any sharp response to the reality of the economy; especially to events that occurred within the previous 6 or 8 months. Further the momentum generated by prior years participants successes acts to keep the parties involved even if they are reluctant.

    There is a diminution of credit all all levels of the economy. the amount of data radiating from all the the changes going on is too vast to comprehend even for some of the pest prognosticators including our leading economists.

    Observing the activities at our conference or randomly polling participants does not change the fact that things are grim in a lot more places now than in prior years. Should pessimists trump optimist? well maybe but pragmatists are definitely tightening their belts, going to cash, curtailing expenditures, delaying or abandoning expansions or developments.

    Now is the time for optimists to prune the staff and portfolios; pick up outstanding opportunities whether they be personnel or properties never forgetting that beauty is always in the eye of the beholder; but be careful of pigs with lipstick.

    Remember listen for the fat lady -no substitutes

  3. 3 Dennis May 23, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Sometimes the optimists are right. Sometimes pessimists are the closest to accurate. Clearly the industry is seeking answers as transition occurs. That said, an old saying comes to mind “the more things change, the more things remain the same.” At the end of four days, it was great to catch up with some good friends, reconnect with acquaintances and meet some new ones too. One observation I noted about ICSC, compared to other industries, the retail real estate community is considerably more organized, cohesive and connected. And I am glad to be a part of such a tremendous community.

  4. 4 DON May 30, 2008 at 7:29 am


  5. 5 TeenyTiny June 4, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    RECon was another year in Vegas. However, I am sensing a real cataclysmic shift in attitudes regarding the future of retail real estate. Some enormous changes will be coming down the pipeline in the next decade with $4, $6, $8 gas prices on the horizon. Changes will occur in everything from CAM costs, Rent Equilibrium, and growing vacancy rates unseen since the beginning of the industry. The very nature of suburbia will come into question. Commuting 1 hour each way to work will be no longer affordable to the middle class. The viability of the notion of suburbia, neighborhood shopping centers, and the soon to be defunct lifestyle centers, will all seem vastly strange to someone in 2028. Be prepared for quantum changes in the industry, at all levels.

  6. 6 Ask Carlin June 5, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    And what is it we do for a living? We create/sustain/partake in… the shopping mall. Mile after mile of mall after mall. Many, many malls. Major malls and mini malls. They put mini malls in between the major malls and in between the mini malls they put the mini marts. And in between the mini marts you’ve got the car lots, gas stations, muffler shops, laundromats, cheap hotels, fast food joints, strip clubs and dirty book stores. America the Beautiful: One big transcontinental cesspool. And how do the people feel about all this? How do the people feel about living in a coast to coast shopping mall? Well, they think it’s just flippin’ dandy. They think it is cool as can be. Because Amercians love the mall, they Love the mall where they get to satisfy their two most prominent addictions at the same time: shopping and eating. Millions of semi-conscious Americans, day after day, shuffling through the malls, shopping and eating.

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