Apple’s newest flagship store is a stunning example of how to “not” fade into the past. Face it, Apple is no spring chicken in retail terms – lets all remember that computers, phones, and watches are at their core retail material. Yes they are critical communication devices too but Apple by no means has the corner on the market for such. Android, Google, Microsoft, have for years been chipping away at Apples dominance, yet time and again Apple recreates itself into a winning model for the future.
Retail cannot continue it the same business model that it has been feeding us since the 1980’s – ironically around the same time Apple became a powerhouse. There are many reasons that retail in general – Macy’s, Walmart, Nordstrom, H&M – still look the same today that they did in the 80’s and the answer is REAL ESTATE. Retail is becoming about the food you can get there, the people you can meet, the amenities such as wireless, coffee, comfortable seating and spaces to people watch.
Real estate is timeless – is can be constantly reshaped and remodeled, it can be refurbished and change camelion-like from retail into residential and back again. The most important factor is that the real estate itself is a reflection of our community and demographic. The failures of the current retail models will be the success of those who buy now, and use those spaces to house the current needs.
Malls are slowly becoming other things entirely – learning centers, medical plazas to attend to a aging America, and residential spaces for a new generation of millennials that prefer a close community where walking is more important than driving and owning a car is less important the the community that surrounds their apartments.
Our view from the commercial end is that timing is everything. While retail is morphing into a new model for entertaining spaces there is a huge potential to buy those very spaces that are unprofitable. Don’t wait to buy – focus on location over condition and choose urban location close to public transportation. There is no fading into the past when you keep your eyes on the horizon.