Retail trends are as much the product of the physical spaces that accommodate them as the other way around.
This reality was the focus of a recent seminar at the Real Estate Strategy & Leasing Conference in Toronto. Here, a crew of Canada’s leasing scions gathered to discuss the forces at work on the retail scene and how leasing is working to adapt to them.
Among them: millennial eating habits, demand for warehouse space, and the powerfully increasing presence of e-commerce.
Food is becoming a more integral part of the retail experience, and unique food offerings in shopping malls have been proven to keep consumers engaged for longer. Think Bannock, Oliver & Bonacini’s restaurant in the downtown Bay store. Located on the same floor as the Hudson Bay-branded merchandise, the restaurant integrates smartly with native Canadian fare.
And creative food merchandisers’ pop-up restaurants in vacant office building space—as on the second-floor terrace of Adelaide Place in Toronto this summer—entices the corporate set out of their cubicles while filling unused acreage. The short-term arrangements, which exploit the concept of office buildings as communities, give retailers a chance to test their audiences without commitment.
Restaurant leasing is at an all-time high, even in spite of the explosion of online food delivery services like UberEats. The only accommodation required on this front of the retail environment is increased back-of-house space.
Digital activity also makes its presence known in the call for more warehouse space at certain retail operations. Massive e-companies like Amazon need tremendous storage capacity to supply outlets and orders. Developers ignore this area of commercial real estate opportunity at their peril.
The Real Estate Strategy & Leasing Conference, held in Toronto on September 19, featured panels of commercial real estate professionals keen to discuss new opportunities for retailers and developers in an industry facing disruption. This session was moderated by Dennis Daoust, a partner with commercial leasing and property management law firm, Daoust Vukovich LLP.