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Experts debate what shoppers want at ICSC RECon in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS: At JLL’s breakfast panel during ICSC’s REcon, five industry experts weighed in on how to draw customers into retail storefronts, big and small.

Following the release of JLL’s Beyond Buying report to help understand what qualities successful retailers posses, the experts outlined what works for them.

“Retail, at the beginning and end of the day, is pretty basic,” said Steven Jay, the senior vice president of strategy at Big Red Rooster, a branding consultant affiliated with JLL.

“We’re providing products and services to people. But the highest rated dimension of retail experience we found was intuitive. I want to be able to get into the store, find what I’m looking for, and get out of the store in a reasonable amount of time.”

Jay, alongside Walgreen’s real estate chief Joseph Brady, said that repeat customers are seeking that natural and hassle-free shopping experience that encourages them to come back.

“We understand that the dwell time in a Walgreens is 10 minutes or less,” Brady said. “What weʼve tried to do at the front end is really understand what they’re buying, what they need, make it easier for them to find it, get in and get out.”

Walgreens and other retailers have stuck to the simplistic and straightforward approach, while newer brands are experimenting with the experiential elements to draw in customers. But Naveen Jaggi, who leads JLL’s retail brokerage service, said that people care more about value than having an experience.

“Everybody talks about experience, but the reality is thereʼs a whole world of consumers who donʼt care about experience as much as they care about value,” Jaggi said.

“Don’t forget Dollar General, Ross, TJX … all those retailers, they donʼt provide much of an experience. What they provide you is the best bang for the buck.”

While single storefronts may be easier to address, an even greater problem revolves around how malls are trying to keep their customers inside and buying more.

KIDZANIA is the new Macy’s

Panelists Greg Knoop, the chief development officer of KidZania, and Stephen Goglia, the CEO of Craveable Hospitality Group, are changing what the mall looks like.

According to Knoop, places like KidZania, an experiential learning center for kids, are becoming the new anchor tenants for malls.

“We have mastered separation anxiety, our children come into our facilities and they want to say bye and run off,” Knoop said. “So now where do mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, whoever that guardian is, go? They go to the mall.”

“We sell ourselves as that fiscal engine that is critical for the new environments of what a mall has become, the destination of families,” Knoop explained. “We’re not entertainment, we’re not education, we are destination traffic drivers.”

For Goglia, Craveable’s food halls as anchor tenants provide the perfect mix of what potential shoppers want.

“When I think about whatʼs successful for a food hall or a food market, itʼs experiential in terms of what people what, there’s a sense of discovery when you’re in a food hall or food market, and it serves a broad need,” Goglia said.

And for Jaggi, the look of a traditional anchor is evolving rapidly and it’s up to the filler retailers to similarly adapt.

“The reality is the malls are shifting, thereʼs no more new Macyʼs, no more new Bloomingdaleʼs, no more new Nordstroms for the most part,” Jaggi added. “So what are you going to fill that space with?

“The anchors now are KidZania, four restaurants stacked on top of each other, or a food hall,” Jaggi said. “Thatʼs the shift in our mindset; to stop thinking about an anchor being a three-story, 200,000 s/f Dress Barn.”

Pictured top from left to right, moderator James Cook, JLL’s director of retail research, Greg Knoop, chief development officer of KidZania, Stephen Goglia, CEO of Craveable Hospitality Group, Naveen Jaggi, who leads JLL’s retail brokerage, and Stephen Jay, senior vice president of strategy at Big Red Rooster

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