Ecommerce The New Ally Of Shopping Centers
It’s no secret that the 2021 Return to Retail brought a wave of shoppers into the arms of waiting shopping centers and their merchants. Retailers seeking space to rent also found their way back to the mall as available retail space dropped 59% in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared to the same time in 2020. (CBRE) This came on the heels of many doomsday-like predictions as recent as January 2021 that foresaw retail vacancies hitting a 7 year high (Forbes).
All that changed as 2021 progressed and we saw strong consumer spend in both online and in-store outlets. Smart retailers and landlords began embracing a truly omnichannel experience that allowed the customer to choose how and when they bought and took possession of their purchases.
The lessons learned during Covid are quickly coming to life across the retail and real estate industries. And it's not just predictions. The results are in. Maybe there never was such a great divergence between online and in-store shopping for the consumer. Perhaps it was a fabrication of the media and Wall Street that confounded retail closures (from an obvious overbuild) in the market with the rise of e-commerce. Stores closing because there are too many of certain ones, at the time of ecommerce growth does not necessarily mean e-commerce is causing all the stores to close.
Now, as consumer spending flows back into both stores and e-commerce, it’s clear, more than ever, that these consumers see an integrated shopping experience that spans the full range of possibilities created by in-stores and online shopping. And as more retailers like Home Depot activate “store mode” on their apps, the digital world will increasingly power physical shopping in new and evolving ways.
This same phenomenon will happen at shopping centers too, as they embrace the digital future of shopping with digitally powered experiences, rewards, personalization and yes, e-commerce.