ICSC RECon 2017 was held last week from May 21-24 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. This year, the conference lived up to its billing as the “World’s Largest Retail Real Estate Convention” with an estimated crowd of 37,000. This represents about a 2.7% increase over last year and continues the trend of growing attendance since the post-recession lows.
The impact of technology and social media on retail continued to be a major theme at the conference. This was reflected by the keynote address given by Steve Wozniak, Co-Founder of Apple and Chief Scientist at Primary Data, and in the professional development seminars offered at the event, which included topics such as “Social Medial For Retail Real Estate Professionals” and “Geo-Fencing/GPS Signal-Tracking”. Retailers and shopping center owners alike continue to be challenged by increasing competition from e-commence businesses and the need to develop an effective omni-channel strategy in this rapidly changing, and increasingly mobile, retail landscape. In light of these changes, many at this year’s show expressed some concern about which retailers are actively seeking new deals.
But despite these headwinds, the mood at the convention was still largely positive. Cushman & Wakefield celebrated its 100th year in the industry with a large “Recharge at RECon” station with a full coffee bar and television broadcast set-up. From its prime spot in Central Hall, the global commercial brokerage and consulting company generated some buzz around the halls by broadcasting live interviews on the company’s social media websites and handing out free lattes. This year also saw the return of DDR Corp to the Las Vegas Convention Center floor. After presenting off-site during the last few years at RECon, the Beachwood, Ohio-based REIT returned to the middle of the deal making action with a new state-of-the art booth. This return generated some energy at the show, where the crowds streamed from meeting to meeting across the showroom floors. The wheeling and dealing continued late into the evenings at dinners and cocktail parties throughout the Strip as landlords and tenants worked in the hopes of getting deals done.