Cushman & Wakefield’s Garrick Brown runs down retail intel at MSCA gathering

By: Adam Rae Voge

Garrick Brown, vice president of retail research for Cushman & Wakefield Americas, braved the cold weather of early 2017 to deliver his outlook for the year at the January meeting of the Minnesota Shopping Center Association.garrick_500px

Garrick, a San Diego native known as the Retail Wizard, shared his latest insight on where the retail market is going, how the recent presidential election might impact retailers, and more in the address, at the St. Louis Park DoubleTree hotel.

The speech was moderated by Director Deb Carlson.

Among Garrick’s insights: larger chain stores continue to struggle with how to stay competitive and appealing, especially to younger, millennial shoppers. That crowd tends to favor concepts such as Shinola, which seek to make each location and shopping experience unique from others in its chain. It has increasingly become an “evolve or die” marketplace, with brands turning to alternative lines, such as a Nordstrom Rack or Macy’s Backstage.

Garrick also noted that restaurants continue to be major movers and shakers in the retail world, with new concepts popping up all the time. But that also means many restaurants will close this year, as competitors jockey for position.

In the world of established retailers, Macy’s, The Gap and Sears are among the major brands facing rough times. Garrick told the MSCA crowd that store closures in 2016 were the highest he’s tracked since 2010, going back through about 20 years of data. As struggling chains find new ownership, they could find new life, but that also means more closures could be yet to come.

Garrick also delivered plenty of good news to MSCA members.

The “barbell of prosperity” continues for retailers on either end of the pricing spectrum — luxury retailers and discounters. Those brands, he said, are driving interesting activity for retail properties as they push back agains the highest rents in favor of well-located Class B properties.

Will 2017 bring the “death of the mall”? Not so fast, said Garrick, calling that notion “just stupid.” Most of the last 200 malls that closed in the U.S. were simply recategorized to power centers or another type of retail shopping center, trading an anchor for repurposed space.

In all, Garrick said he expects another active, headline-heavy year of retail news, both in Minneapolis and around the country.

Interested in more retail insights from Garrick? Follow @retailwizard on Twitter​! ​​