As reported by Tim Schooley with the Pittsburgh Business Times...
Attendance Down at ICSC Spring Convention
In retail-speak, if there’s one thing that the shopping center industry can usually depend on at RECon, the annual Spring Convention of the International Council of Shopping Centers, it’s heavy foot traffic.
Not this year.
“There’s a lot more room,” said David Glickman, a vice president who specializes in retail leasing for the Downtown office of Grubb & Ellis Company, of the lack of crowds and smaller number of trade show booths. “I compare it to going to Giant Eagle at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning.”
Glickman is one of a number of Pittsburgh-area retail professionals attending the event in Las Vegas this week.
While in up years the event has attracted more than 50,000 attendees, this year’s draw was expected to be about half of that as the retail industry struggles through what’s been casually called the great recession.
Glickman’s visual estimate was that attendance was one-third less than normal.
A fall-off in attendance at the event, at which developers court new retailers and new projects are often debuted, is also coming from some of the biggest owners of shopping centers in the Pittsburgh area.
For example, Chattanooga, Tenn.-based CBL & Associates Properties, Inc., which owns two of Pittsburgh’s four biggest shopping centers in Monroeville Mall and Westmoreland Mall, informed analysts during its recent quarterly conference call that it is sending less than half the staff that attended RECon last year.
Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania Real Estate Trust, which owns three of the region’s biggest shopping centers, Beaver Valley Mall, Washington Crown Center and Uniontown Mall, told analysts the company is sending about 15 people this year, down nearly two-thirds from the 44 it typically sends.
At least three of the other largest shopping center owners have also scaled down their presence at the event in the wake of industry giant General Growth Properties landing in Chapter 11 protection from creditors a few weeks ago.
Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, which owns Ross Park Mall, South Hills Village and Century III Mall, left perhaps the biggest vacuum when it opted against setting up shop in its typical drug store-sized mega kiosk on the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center to instead send its executives and leasing agents.
The company has spent between $2 million to $3 million on its trade show presence in the past, according to the Las Vegas Business Press.
The expectation is to do more with less.
Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, a Philadelphia-based REIT, or PREIT, which recently announced it is considering the sale of some of its assets, is focused on redeveloping some of its properties in the Philadelphia metro area.
“We wouldn’t send anybody to dot I’s and cross T’s and work on sort of gross renewals,” said Ron Rubin, CEO of PREIT, in an April 30 conference call. “The intention is to send people out there to attempt to do business.”
As it also seeks to complete the development of the Settlers Ridge development in Robinson Township, CBL hopes to find new tenants for some of the big box openings it’s experienced in the last year, including the shuttered Boscov’s at Monroeville Mall.
“...We do think it would be productive,” said John Foy, CFO of CBL, in the company’s April 30 conference call. “There are a lot of retailers that are still expansion minded with the box portfolio that we have.”
Ed Shriver, the managing partner of Downtown-based Strada Architecture LLC, attending RECon to seek out new business, saw the industry’s hard times not just in the newly open spaces in the convention center but in the ICSC’s annual unveiling of its hot retailers that was comprised mostly of the kinds of discount stores that are the only ones seeing sales growth.
While he didn’t expect to see much new happening in the next three to six months, Shriver attended with the expectation that those who did attend RECon have good reason to be there.
The Urban Works office is blessed to be next door to Tom's 1st Ave Bento...This unassuming lunch time restaurant deserves the title as the best bento restaurant in Portland!
Don't fear the long line of people waiting to descend into the restaurant (it's a good sign). Tom's friendly staff makes quick work of that hungry line which moves at the efficiency that even Starbucks would envy. Most often, by the time you reach Tom at the cash register your bill has already been totaled and your lunch is being placed in your hands.
Healthy, fresh food is the order everyday with entrees served with brown rice, homemade yogurt sauce and perfectly steamed vegetables. Chicken, steak and pork loin are daily regulars and salads made with sautéed almonds, bay shrimp, crab and fresh fruit is a nice compliment. Tom takes extra pride in serving fresh seafood that is often driven from the coast in the morning by Tom himself. Salmon, halibut, prawns, tuna and his blessed razor clams are perfectly cooked and would make Jake's nervous if Tom wanted to stay open for dinner.
Since Tom's does not have a sign above it's space you will have to trust the sandwich board in front of the restaurant at SW First & Jefferson. The secret code is to watch that same sandwich board for the special of the day and pray you see a razor clam shell taped to that said sign.
Yesterday's NYT Travel Section was dedicated to the Frugal Traveler's recent tightwad adventures in Portland. His home base was the Ace Hotel and his favorite local destinations included Stumptown, Lizard Lounge (especially the free First Thursday beer), Bunk, Barista, Pok Pok, Ping, Broder, and Portland's abundant food carts.