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#BizTrends2019: Superfluous retail development the greatest risk to retailers, landlords alike
Andrew Thabo Russell, head of expansion and acquisitions, Flanagan & Gerard
Shift from CBD trade
Marginal centres that lack an identity or purpose will continue to decline. And due to township mall developments, CBD trade will shift to safer, modern, more convenient retail environments. We foresee a period of trade consolidation, favouring centres that are dominant in their nature, be it neighbourhood centres, community shopping centres or regional malls. However, this is not to say that the income streams of dominant centres are not under pressure. The greatest present risk to bricks and mortar landlords and retailers is irresponsible retail development, where blame lies with both developer/investors and retailers.
Suboptimal shopping centres do not just affect the centre and the retailers that trade in the centre but losses jeopardise the retailer’s businesses as a whole. This subsequently affects the landlords of sound developments. Strong centres are subsidising weak centres.
Furthermore, the new benchmark of rentals which retailers have become accustomed to from distressed landlords has altered retailers' expectations. Today’s rental expectations would have AAA grade green fields sites open in negative equity. Current rental expectations make sound green fields developments unfeasible.
And finally, struggling centres take away from the ability of retailers and landlords to maintain the most appealing environment for customers. Shopping centres are living organisms that need to evolve. Without the appropriate evolution and investment, the imminent challenge of online retail offerings may act more independently of bricks & mortar retail than if landlords and retailers maintained and created truly desirable shopping environments.