ICSC’s New England Idea Exchange Talks Trends and Technology
As ICSC’s New England Idea Exchange closes on yet another successful conference, the message is clear: the retail industry is reinventing itself once again. Attendance was on the increase again this year as real estate professionals gathered at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, appropriately located within the quickly expanding Seaport District, to hear about the latest trends in the industry and how those trends are here to stay.
Attendees heard from the experts on everything from big picture issues in the finance sector, to more nuanced discussions on how the single tenant net lease may be changing the real estate investment landscape. The trend of high-end retailers expanding discount affiliates was also of great focus. For example, while Nordstrom intends to open just a handful of new flagship stores in the coming year, it plans to open dozens of locations for its bargain brand, Nordstrom Rack. In like fashion, the industry will see the rollout of Macy’s “Backstage” and an increasing number of Saks “Off Fifth” locations. On the owner/developer side, while enclosed mall expansion has ground to a halt, outlet centers continue to spread rapidly into new areas of the country.
This was the first year that the conference was scheduled on a Wednesday through a Friday. Concern was expressed by attendees, however, that a Friday in July may be a challenge to assure solid attendance through the end of the show. It will be interesting to see if ICSC returns to the more typical Tuesday through Thursday schedule to ensure that the New England show continues to be a major attraction for all sectors of the retail industry.