Columbia retail adapts to succeed

Key Takeaways

  • Experiential retailers and specialized customer service are driving the success of brick-and-mortar shops.
  • Dispelling negative rumors, the retail market is thriving and adapting new business strategies for continued success.

The adaptive state of retail

Despite the negative press about the retail real estate market, it is actually in an adaptive state, responding to the changing environment and fueled by an expanding economy. According to K.C. Conway, the Director of Research and Corporate Engagement at the Alabama Center for Real Estate, the retail real estate market is seeing a number of optimistic changes. Due to trends leaning toward e-commerce, customer convenience and a rapid delivery pace, retailers must adapt and provide the appropriate services in an effort to remain successful. There are many shop owners who are using retailer-controlled distribution centers to save money, shorten the supply chain and keep their retail inventory off-site and ready to ship. Not only does this provide stable retail footing, it also bodes well for the industrial sector. This is good news for South Carolina retailers, since 65%-70% of the United States population lives on the East Coast; therefore, East Coast fulfillment center retail will be able to ride the coattails of the rapidly growing logistics market within the state. In addition, empty malls will be filled more quickly because the new trend is to turn vacant mall space into a warehouse fulfillment center. Malls are also being repurposed into mixed-use facilities with first floor retail space, office space and school space in order to bring life and foot traffic to areas with no current activity. Finally, there is a lot of media attention given to retail store closings, but according to Conway’s report, “in 2017, 750 brands opened stores versus 250 that closed stores” and “for each company closing stores, 2.7 are opening stores.” This is a much different story than the apocalyptic one generally told when speaking of the retail market. 

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