Retail isn’t in chaos, says net lease expert Jonathan Hipp of Avison Young. It’s just transforming.
The retail market is under siege. There’s no surprise there. But to quote an investment truth—especially among more savvy net lease players—crisis also brings opportunity. Such is the case with the beleaguered retail market. You just need to know where the rocks in the stream are in order to avoid a capital dunking.
First, there’s one ongoing truth about virtually all retail real estate. As Richard Chichester, president & CEO of Faris Lee investments once observed, retail typically occupies the best real estate in town. Of course, that makes sense, given the need for traffic and exposure. Real estate is the great differentiator, especially these days when the internet seems to dominate everyone’s shopping attention.
This reality, of course, predates the pandemic. Smart brands were already focusing on omnichannel strategies in an attempt to marry digital and brick-and-mortar sales. Think players such as the Home Depot or Best Buy. They also incorporated a now-cliche “customer experience” strategy to draw people away from their devices and into their stores.
Of course, the pandemic put an end to that, at least temporarily. Shoppers hunkered down at home rather than risk exposure in the tight quarters of a retail store, and the result was an unprecedented number of bankruptcies last year, often by names we’ve grown up with.