Center Court: Who Doesn’t Love a Great Underdog Story?
We love a good underdog story. On Sunday night, our hometown team delivered one at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The Philadelphia Eagles became the 2018 NFL champions, and many of those brooding headlines from the past two months are now a far cry from prophetic.
“With Carson Wentz Out for the Season, Eagles’ Dreams Turn to Dread,” asserted The New York Times.
The New York Post warned, “Why Carson Wentz injury may kill Eagles’ Super Bowl hopes.”
Yet the Los Angeles Times was a little less certain: “Eagles’ Super Bowl hopes aren’t over after Carson Wentz injury.”
Well, we know what happened. Nick Foles and the entire team went on to inspire joyful choruses of “Fly, Eagles, Fly” that continued well into the night – a tune the Philadelphia region will be singing all year long.
For the majority of last year, the retail industry had its own dark headlines to contend with – reports predicting the retail apocalypse and the death of retail as we know it. Yet, that negativity, too, is more accurately interpreted as uncertainty in times of change. For the retail environment was (and still is) evolving to better meet the needs of today’s consumers. While the industry was adapting and experiencing growing pains, the death knell was sounded much too hastily.
According to a report released this month by the research and consulting firm Fung Global Retailing & Technology (FGRT), the constant drumbeat about a “retail apocalypse” is still premature. The report notes that grocery and dollar-store sectors expanded “significantly” last year, with major dealers in those sectors opening a net 1,785 outlets. Selling space for variety stores rose by 4.4 percent last year, by 1.3 percent for grocery stores, and by 1 percent for warehouse clubs.
What drives traffic to our properties today may be different than it was 15 years ago, but retail has always operated in a state of evolution and property owners need to be nimble. Industry leaders will continue to thrive as long as they are proactive, creative and never satisfied. At PREIT, we kept our heads down amid the industry’s punishing headlines and pursued record leasing activity in 2017, leasing over 75% more space than we did in 2016.
We solidified plans to remerchandise 10 former department store spaces – incorporating 17 tenants spanning seven diverse uses. Eight of those new tenants are already open at five properties, with average down time of less than nine months – demonstrating proficiency in adjusting our game plan and executing at velocity.
Like our hometown team, headlines don’t ruffle our feathers and we will work to continue pulling off surprise victories.