Local Brews, Specialized Fitness Spell Success
As competition for consumer loyalty grows stronger each year, retail centers must make every effort to stay relevant with their tenant mix and marketing platforms. Leasing and property management teams must work together to assess consumer needs to provide retail, entertainment, dining and service offerings shoppers desire. They must also create an appealing environment to enhance shoppers’ experiences — one that fits within the local community’s specific culture. While there is no exact formula for leasing and property management success, this article will explore some of today’s most popular retail and service concepts and the increasing demand for environmental sustainability.
Effective leasing strategies continue to require careful attention to local markets and their demographics. While consumer preferences differ across the country, there are universal tenant choices that make sense whether in California, Texas or New York. There is a sustained interest in craft breweries and localized eateries in all our centers – from gastropubs and craft-beer bars to an array of specialty fitness centers. When these are matched with centers that offer creative community events and programming, there is strong potential to maximize the center’s strength in the community.
According to The Wall Street Journal, “in the early days of craft brewing, a couple of decades ago, bottle shares were informal gatherings of home brewers and collectors.” Today, of course, there has been an explosion of interest in craft brewing and in the restaurants, pubs and bars where they are available. Placing craft brew stores in a center optimizes high customer traffic and a loyal clientele educated on the advantages of buying local, farm-to-table and quality beverages, food and retail.
Additionally, the conventional gym of decades past has made way for a proliferation of boutique fitness stores and chains. Many of these focus on newer approaches to cardio, strength training and
core conditioning. Soul Cycle is the hottest trend in spinning; Melt and Bikram Yoga are “hot” yoga chains that are predicated on the detox and muscle-warming advantages their system emphasizes; Orange Theory centers on the philosophy of high-intensity interval training using individual heart monitors; and REI’s training walls for rock climbers are all attracting a wide array of fitness needs.
Along with the heightened appeal of these fitness centers, specialized health and beauty services provide unique experiences that differentiate them from competitors. These include makeup and blow-dry bars; skincare experts such as Skin Laundry and Pucker in New York City; and countless chain tanning, nail and micro massage salons. Concierge cinemas like Silverspot and iPic have become a sought-after tenants for regional malls, mixed-use centers and urban infill projects. With their platinum level amenities including oversize leather seats, dining options and reserved seating, these theaters appeal to young and old alike.
Consumers today want to live and work near where they grocery-shop, work out and dine. Centers are therefore increasingly looking at alternative ways to drive traffic such as next-generation fitness and personal service options to meet demand.
Finally, centers that have developed active and strategic community events and organizational tie-ins retain superior customer loyalty and satisfaction. Whether with children’s events during the holidays, live bands on weekends or charity drives that benefit local philanthropies, centers can remain top of mind with a grateful and appreciative local audience and clientele.
Retail Centers Make the Environment a Priority
Sustainability is a mainstay as recycling, upcycling and reducing natural resource consumption becomes increasingly embedded in our daily routine. Retail centers and leasing management firms are hyper-aware of the need to create an environmentally sound practice, which requires commitment and cooperation of both tenants and property managers. “Green leasing” is becoming conventional as more and more centers are seeing environmental clauses built into their building agreements. With the operational cost savings, marketability and need to be on trend with developments in environmental standards, a higher number of property managers recognize the direct link green practice has in competing in the national and global marketplace.
There are myriad ways landlords are instituting environmental savvy with their properties, from adding in requirements and specifications to lease agreements to value-engineering and retrofitting older centers to make way for more modern materials and engineering, including solar panels and green roofs. And there are smaller ways to move toward the greening of centers beyond the large scale.
According to Entrepreneur, using greener, less toxic cleaning products, switching to energy-efficient LED or CFL lighting, foregoing the excess of a shopping bag for every purchase and keeping lights and other electronic devices on timers (to reduce electrical usage)—are all small steps toward greening the retail space.
According to Shopping Centers Today, landlords are finding ways to conserve water and reduce waste by re-crafting green roofs, (which filter storm water and lower HVAC costs) and installing resource efficient plumbing fixtures. Senior water attorney for the National Defense Council Larry Levine says, “Not only does investing in efficient water systems serve the public interest through conservation and pollutant remove, it adds to property value.”
The U.S. Department of Energy released data that commercial buildings account for 35 percent of electricity consumption in the U.S. and 40 percent globally. These numbers fuel an even greater need for an overhaul in environmental strategies for both chain and independent retail. President Obama’s Better Building Initiative, which seeks to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent a year through tax incentives, has created an inducement for building owners to engage in sustainable retrofits and encourages landlords and property managers to be creative in running the logistics of such measures. California has passed legislation mandating the disclosure of building performance to new tenants and buyers in an effort to increase efficiency metrics of existing buildings through retrofits.
More and more communities are requiring recycling programs, which provide an even stronger platform for local outreach, participation and education into the benefits of green living habits, both privately and commercially. By capitalizing on green technology and including green leasing requirements, properties can envision sustainable growth for the future of their business.