A Trip to the Asia Expo

1022singapore.gifOur Editor-in-Chief, Myriam Beaugé, just got back from the ICSC Asia Expo. Here’s a brief taste of her time in Singapore.

Last week’s ICSC Asia Expo in Singapore didn’t break any attendance records, but those retail professionals who made the trip did take heed to the event’s theme, “Harnessing the possibilities…the time is now.”
Whether during panel discussions, roundtables or trade exhibit hours, delegates were keen to make new contacts and exchange strategies that could make their shopping centers more attractive to consumers and also more productive.
Given that, with the exception of Japan, market recessions in the region were being spoken about in the past tense, emerging trends weren’t only tied to survival of the present but also to long-term growth and success.

Here are some of the trends we picked up:

  • Vacant in-line shops might become an alternative to kiosks and RMUs when it comes to incubating new retail concepts in malls. Some of these spaces could come fully furnished yet allow for customization and branding.
  • To enhance a mall’s service roster, landlords could approach their current tenants and convince them to create retail spin-offs of their own service centers. That means a department store could turn its in-house tailoring service to a stand-alone tenant in the mall to offer alteration services to all shoppers and not only its own customers.
  • Some landlords aren’t too keen to cave in and reduce rents to address the problem of declining retail sales. Instead, they are coming up with imaginative lease terms. Among them are deferred-rent leasing deals that give mall developers an opportunity to take ownership in new tenants’ businesses.
  • Branding is no longer about flaunting a brand name, but about creating a memorable experience for a specific retail environment. Starbucks made that realization in Hong Kong, where it eventually designed its coffee shop to resemble a teahouse.
  • Sustainability isn’t a fad and it isn’t only about environmental stewardship. It’s also about making management decisions that support long-term productivity. One case in point: landlords curtailing their costs and responding to lower traffic numbers by reducing operating hours. This not only saves money for the landlord, but it also helps struggling retailers to run their shops more efficiently until business picks up again. Westfield and Simon were two trendsetting developers cited.

We’ll have more on the Asia Expo, including a feature on the winners of the ICSC 2009 Asia Shopping Centre Awards, in the next edition of Tactics Magazine. Don’t miss it!

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