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Emerging Market Trends in Retail

Emerging Market Trends in Retail 1440 428 ASG

“Location, location, location” may be a cliché, but “what is the ideal location for my brand?” is the burning question behind every retail strategy. The “right” location is not always where you think it is. Opening a retail location in the right spot can increase foot traffic, boost sales, and give the brand the exposure it needs. Conversely, a poor location can slow sales and even result in bankruptcy.

Where is retail happening right now and why? What markets are thriving? In this emerging market report, we’ll look at how some retailers are making a big splash outside the typical retail hot spots and why it might be beneficial to consider opening a retail location in these areas.

“Consumers want and crave variety, diversity, and choice. You can maintain a national footprint and effectively leverage regional and localized design. Bringing these strategies to scale can be a differentiator for retailers who want to thrive, not just survive,” says Carrie Barclay, president and CEO of ASG.

Data, Data, and More Data

Data analytics is crucial to understanding retail location strategy. The most critical factor in choosing a retail location is understanding your target consumer. Insight into consumer behavior is essential. And that’s the rub, because consumers have dramatically changed their behavior post-pandemic. Anything retailers knew about their shopper from before the pandemic no longer is relevant.

Finding the right location in this shifting landscape requires access and understanding, says Doug Tilson, head of tenant representation for ASG. “It’s critical to understand how markets develop and how they’re changing. That can only happen when you have access to up-to-date, comprehensive data,” he says. “Using accurate data to drive decision-making and working with a trusted tenant rep partner can help you determine what’s possible in a retail real estate landscape that is constantly evolving.”

The Big Location Shift

Consumers are shopping closer to home, and they are seeking unique and memorable experiences when shopping in person. These factors are shifting location strategies for retailers, leading to store openings outside of the typical launch areas.

“While virtual and digital experiences still matter, the in-store experience is returning to prominence, and 94% of retailers are focused on enhancing it for their business overall.”SquareUp

New location opportunities can lead to different format opportunities. Because consumers are sticking closer to home to shop, retailers—both big brands and a resurgence of mom-and-pop retailers—are opening smaller stores that allow them to fit more locations into neighborhoods and suburbs. Some retailers are even opening strategic locations on college campuses.

“Consumers want and crave variety, diversity, and choice. You can maintain a national footprint and effectively leverage regional and localized design. Bringing these strategies to scale can be a differentiator for retailers who want to thrive, not just survive,” says Carrie Barclay, president and CEO of ASG.

Meeting customers where they are and where they want to be is part of a smart retail strategy. And that means an opportunity for retailers—both big brands and mom-and-pop retailers—who can’t afford big-city lease prices and large-format shopping environments.

“Retailers can tailor these small-format stores to target a specific demographic, create a personalized shopping experience, or experiment with a new brand direction. Small-format stores can also serve as fulfillment centers for click-and-pay shopping and as a location for returns, all while fostering brand awareness and customer engagement. And thanks to their smaller size, these stores can help companies expand their reach in urban centers and other highly-priced real estate markets while lowering overhead costs.” Placer.ai

Using data to determine where and how retailers can best position themselves to attract consumers is essential to future success in today’s retail industry.

“Right-sizing helps in the long run: less labor, less inventory (“showroom” stores), less build-out costs, less energy spend, better online fulfillment and return options, as well as the big one since 2020—better accessibility.”RetailWire

“For the first time in a long time, retail growth is outside of the top 20 cities. You’re looking at tier two or tier three cities, which suggests that the redistribution post-Covid is shifting. We know that it will shift again as people move past the Covid experience.”

-Carrie Barclay, CEO ASG

Emerging Markets

According to PWC, almost all of this year’s survey of top-ranked real estate markets are in faster-growing southern and western regions and away from the coasts.

• Nashville was once again the top-rated metro area
• The Dallas/Fort Worth area jumped five spots from a year ago to become the number two-ranked market
• The Atlanta metro area scored higher in this year’s survey, jumping to the number three-ranked spot from number eight last year

In addition to Nashville, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Atlanta, ASG is seeing opportunity in Seattle,
Austin, Charlotte, and Louisville.

3 Reasons to Consider Retail Development in Nashville

1. Nashville has been focused on economic development coming out of the pandemic and offers a variety of opportunities in mixed-use spaces that are reasonably priced compared to larger cities.
2. Nashville is an international tourist destination, bringing in people from around the world every year.
3. The city is investing in infrastructure, including public transportation, to support the growth.

For more, see these seven reasons why retailers should consider Nashville.

Nashville shops offer something for everyone: records by local musicians, rare musical instruments, vintage items, artisanal sweets and drinks, and items crafted by local makers and fashion designers. Music City is home to several shopping districts including 12South, East Nashville, Hillsboro Village, Green Hills, and Downtown.

The Nashville region is defined by a diverse economy, a low cost of living and doing business, a creative culture, and a well-educated population. Nashville’s growth is spurring a wide variety of new businesses, making it attractive for retailers. Nashville is a strategic location for retailers, but as more brands discover the opportunity, prices will rise. Retailers whose consumers will respond to a Nashville location should be planning now.

3 Reasons to Consider Retail Development in Dallas-Fort Worth

1. Dallas/Fort Worth is experiencing significant population, attracting people to the area with promising job opportunities and affordable housing in comparison to other areas of the country.
2. DFW and Texas in general have business-friendly tax policies, including dedicated support for small business owners, incentives to locate or launch businesses in the area, and has a 0% local tax rate as well as low property tax rates.
3. The region has made substantial investments in infrastructure development, including transportation, commercial real estate, and retail spaces.

According to the Q1 2023 Dallas-Fort Worth Retail Report, the Dallas-Fort Worth retail market continues to exhibit robust growth “characterized by robust leasing activity, sustained tenant demand, and redevelopment initiatives.” These conditions make the DFW area favorable for retail growth. Areas to watch in Dallas-Fort Worth include Lakeside and development near the Deep Ellum Rail Station at Swiss Avenue and Good-Latimer Expressway.

3 Reasons to Consider Retail Development in Atlanta

1. Like DFW, Atlanta is experiencing a rapid population growth, offering retailers a large consumer base supported by a strong economy with multiple industries including finance, tech, and logistics.
2. Atlanta is the home base of several Fortune 500s and is also a cultural and entertainment hub, providing a rich and diverse local and visiting customer base for retailers to attract.
3. Atlanta has invested in significant real estate development, including the construction of new shopping centers, mixed-use developments, and revitalized neighborhoods, including Centennial Yards and Medley.

“With the growth of jobs in the city, Atlanta and its 21-county surrounding region has seen a population boom, with more growth on the way. As of April 2023, the surrounding metro has an estimated population of 6.1 million people, and the Atlanta Regional Commission expects this number to grow to 8.6 million by 2050. The current annual household income growth is also outpacing the U.S. average, as well. This extra income growth is to the benefit of retailers.”REBusiness Online

3 Reasons to Consider Retail Development in Seattle

1. Seattle is consistently rated among the top 10 cities to live in the United States. It boasts an above average median income for its residents with companies like Amazon.com, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Microsoft Corporation, Starbucks Coffee Company, Costco, Weyerhaeuser, Nordstrom, REI, Alaska Airlines, and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In the 2022 America’s Best Cities report, Seattle ranked #12, and household income was found to be the sixth highest nationally.
2. Seattle’s transportation infrastructure is impressive. The city has two airports, bus, light rail, and ferries providing extensive public transportation offerings.
3. Seattle start-ups accumulated over $3.2 billion in venture capital in 2020 and have a roster of 25 start-up accelerators and incubators.

While Seattle has seen a slight downturn from the tech industry decline, the city still offers an enormous opportunity for retail, especially for retailers seeking to add small stores in some of the exceptional neighborhood’s Seattle features. In 2022, Nike opened an 8,800-square-foot space in Seattle’s eastside Bellevue neighborhood. Bloomingdale’s is making its entry into Seattle retail with their new small format stores in 2023.

3 Reasons to Consider Retail Development in Austin

1. Austin is one of the fastest-growing regions in the country, attracting high-end talent to the area that makes it ideal for growing retail brands.
2. The Opportunity Austin initiative has helped to create 637,400 jobs that contribute to a diverse economy where talent is abundant.
3. Austin was named the No. 2 best-performing city by the Milken Institute in economic growth and access to opportunities, crediting its strength to its high-tech sector driving rapid job and wage growth.

Retail opportunities abound in Austin. In 2023, the seven-building East Riverside Gateway complex mixed-use development was announced and will provide two million sf of office, retail, and residential space that will emphasize the pedestrian experience. The Domain complex, opened in 2023, includes 20 full-service and fast-casual dining options, 100+ retail stores and around 5,000 residential units in the area.

3 Reasons to Consider Retail Development in Charlotte

1. One of the biggest advantages for retailers in Charlotte is the low taxes. It was named a “Top 10 State for Best Business Tax Climate” by U.S. News and World Report in 2020.
2. Charlotte was named one of the best places to live in the U.S. in 2023-2024 by U.S News & World Report.
3. North Carolina is ranked No. 1 in America’s top states for business with the nation’s strongest economy.

Charlotte has many development and retail opportunities. In 2023, developers announced plans to turn the Mallard Pointe Shopping Center on North Tryon Street into a student gathering place with businesses tailored to the University of North Carolina Charlotte. Food and fitness retail are the fastest growth areas, and while vacancies are nearing record lows, new mixed-use development opportunities continue to evolve.

3 Reasons to Consider Retail Development in Louisville

1. Louisville has worked to increase infrastructure, including adding direct flights to LA and Boston as well as 35 other cities.
2. Louisville attracts talent in a variety of industries, including healthcare, high-tech, and manufacturing, building a population of higher-than-average income workers who are ready to shop.
3. Louisville was named a Top 5 U.S. Metro for economic development by Site Selection Magazine.

The opportunities in Louisville are limitless, with both downtown and the suburbs seeing a huge spurt of new development. Oxmoor Center has become a tourist attraction with retailers vying for the location. Nike recently opened a store there. Shelby Park is also seeing a rise in development, and Wawa recently announced plans to open in the east end.

Location as Retail Strategy

Meeting customers where they are and where they want to be is smart retail strategy. And that means opportunity for retailers—both big brands and mom and pop retailers—who can’t afford big-city lease prices and large-format shopping environments. These emerging markets represent some of the hottest areas in the country for retailers, whether a brand is launching a flagship store or wants to engage customers close to home with a small footprint neighborhood shop.

Retail Location Data

Make the Right Move with Retail Location Data

Make the Right Move with Retail Location Data 1440 428 ASG

In the retail industry, where competition is cutthroat and every move matters, the right location can be the ultimate arbiter of success. Yet, astonishingly, many ambitious retailers fail to recognize the untapped potential and invaluable insights that retail location data offers. 

We get it. It’s easy to get wooed by a vacant retail space in a trendy neighborhood or an open location that has high foot traffic at first glance. But ignoring valuable insights before making a decision can lead to missed opportunities and potential pitfalls.

Empowered with retail store location analysis, retailers can strategically select a site that provides the best opportunities to achieve objectives and maximize profit potential. 

But what kind of information is useful in determining the right location for your retail business so that you can make the best decision for long-term success?

A Data-Driven Approach to Evaluating Retail Locations

In a dynamic marketplace, retailers must stay ahead of the curve before they ever even open. Harnessing the power of data and leveraging it to make informed decisions about where to invest in real estate is critical in today’s competitive retail landscape. 

But what exactly is location data, and how can it help your business? On a macro level, location data refers to information that indicates the geographic position of places, people or objects. While location data can provide details like latitude and longitude coordinates or direction of movement, this information can also provide valuable details like patterns, trends and even historical information that can help businesses make important decisions. 

For example, this type of data is widely used in targeted advertising. By analyzing location data, businesses can understand the behavior and preferences of their target audience in different locations, enabling them to tailor their marketing campaigns accordingly. 

Location data can also be utilized in supply chain management, helping businesses optimize logistics, track shipments and improve overall operational efficiency. By analyzing historical location data, businesses can identify patterns and trends, optimize routes and reduce delivery times, ultimately saving costs and enhancing customer satisfaction.

When evaluating retail spaces, location data is a specialized type of intelligence that can unveil hidden secrets and untapped potential of each possible storefront. The data isn’t only about roads, buildings and traffic patterns. Location data can unveil who lives in an area, their average incomes, the types of homes they live in and more demographic details. 

Thanks to advances in location data, retailers can now explore potential locations by leveraging sophisticated analytics and predictive modeling that analyzes a wide range of factors like competitor proximity, demographic information, and consumer behavior.

Retail Location Data

Key Data Points when Evaluating Locations

A retail store location analysis involves examining several data key points that include:

  • Demographics: Beyond population size and income levels, savvy retailers now delve into the nuanced intricacies of the community. They unravel the aspirations, values, and lifestyles of potential customers, tapping into the emotional connections that drive purchasing decisions.
  • Competition: Competition is no longer just a hurdle to overcome. It’s an opportunity for collaboration and differentiation. Retailers armed with this new mindset embrace the strengths and weaknesses of their counterparts, crafting innovative strategies that set them apart. By harnessing the power of partnerships and symbiotic relationships, they create unique experiences that resonate with customers on a deeper level.
  • Foot traffic: Foot traffic analysis evolves into an art form, a delicate dance between prediction and anticipation. Retailers move beyond static numbers and tap into real-time data, understanding the ebb and flow of customer movements. By embracing the patterns of time and space, they strategically position themselves to intercept the ever-changing currents of consumer traffic.
  • Accessibility: Accessibility encompasses more than physical proximity. Retailers now navigate a complex landscape of convenience and connectivity. They reimagine the concept of accessibility, exploring parking availability, public transportation integration, and the interplay of digital and physical realms. By seamlessly blending the virtual and brick-and-mortar experiences, they become beacons for modern consumers.
  • Cost: Many retailers struggle with achieving a delicate balance between investment and potential returns. It’s no longer a straightforward calculation. Visionary retailers consider the intangible assets and the value they bring to their chosen location. They weigh the cost of leasing or purchasing against the transformative power of their unique offerings, creating a new formula for success.

In this era of retail reinvention, the evaluation of retail locations transcends the mundane checklists of the past. It requires a fresh perspective that relies on a retail store location analysis, embracing collaboration, and tapping into the pulse of the community. 

Retail Location Data

Consumer Migration Trends to Keep an Eye On

Another essential piece of data retailers should consider are the latest consumer migration trends. Consumer migration trends in the context of retail locations refer to the patterns and movements of consumers in terms of their residential locations and preferences for shopping destinations. 

These trends can provide valuable insights into where consumers are moving, how their preferences are changing, and how retailers can adapt their strategies to align with these shifts.

Consumer migration trends can be influenced by a variety of factors, including changes in population demographics, economic conditions, urban development, and lifestyle preferences. 

For example, a neighborhood or city may experience an influx of young professionals, leading to a rise in demand for trendy boutiques and upscale dining options. On the other hand, suburban areas may witness an increase in family-oriented retail establishments as more people move to these areas for a quieter lifestyle.

In our hometown of Columbus, Ohio, community leaders and businesses are leaning into the concept of developing mixed-use spaces in the East Franklinton neighborhood, which is adjacent to downtown, and experiencing a rebirth into a trendy, more progressive area. This area is seeing more young professionals move in just as the business district is developing Gravity – a mixed-use space that caters to entrepreneurs, artists, and other social innovators. 

By analyzing consumer migration trends, which can evolve over time, retailers can identify emerging markets and potential growth opportunities. They can adjust their expansion plans, allocate resources effectively, and tailor their product offerings to meet the needs and preferences of the target consumer base in specific locations.

The Right Location for Long-Term Success

Whether you’re a retailer looking for the right location to jump-start or expand your business, you can significantly benefit from using data to inform the decision-making process. 

Yet knowing how to obtain this data and then use it to make an informed decision can be challenging. Retail location analytics technology platforms can offer a tailored approach to generating real estate data with the goal of empowering clients so they can make confident decisions. 

When choosing analytics technology platforms, look for qualities like:

  • A user-friendly interface that is designed to simplify the analysis and visualization of data
  • Modeling capabilities that leverage historical data and market trends to forecast the potential success of a retail location
  • Integration capabilities that allow seamless data integration from multiple sources, such as demographics, foot traffic, and competitor analysis
  • Advanced geospatial analysis tools that enable businesses to understand the spatial relationships between different retail locations, competitor proximity, and customer density
  • Real-time data updates and monitoring features that provide up-to-date insights into consumer behavior
  • Data security and privacy measures that ensure the protection of sensitive information
  • Customization options that allow businesses to tailor the platform to their specific needs or metrics

By leveraging advanced analytics and artificial intelligence, businesses can make strategic decisions that align with their target market, mitigate risks and capitalize on growth opportunities. 

To learn more about how a retail data platform can help businesses, check out ASGEdge.

The Importance of Lease Management for Business Continuity

The Importance of Lease Management for Business Continuity 1440 428 ASG

Lease management is critical for your retail business. Effective lease management can ensure that your retail business can withstand the volatility of economic downturns, supply chain disruptions, and unexpected challenges to your operations. Many retailers are unaware of the profound financial impact the right lease management team can have on your business, but a smart business continuity plan should include working with a tenant representation professional and outsourcing lease management to experts.

What Is Lease Management?

Lease management is the practice of ensuring that the terms of the lease are properly met. When a retailer receives an invoice from the landlord, the goal is not to balance to the landlord’s invoice but to ensure that the invoice matches the terms of the agreement, doesn’t overcharge, and doesn’t include costs that should not be included. While often a thankless and behind-the-scenes area of our work, ASG saved $12.6 million for clients last year through our effective lease management.

How Does Lease Management Impact Business Continuity?

Lease management, or lease administration, is crucial in ensuring business continuity by protecting the retailer. A well-constructed lease will guarantee that the retailer continues to have access to essential assets. The lease also reduces operational risk, helping the retailer avoid unexpected and unwarranted expenses. Effective lease management involves several key factors, including regular monitoring and tracking of lease agreements, timely renewal of leases, negotiation of favorable lease terms, and proper documentation and record-keeping. Outsourcing lease management can be beneficial because the lease management team are experts in the industry and have the ability to quickly recognize risk areas, negotiate better terms, and help preserve the tenant-landlord relationship.

Best Practices for Successful Retail Lease Management

Effective lease management is crucial for any organization to maintain healthy relationships with its stakeholders. Contracts serve as the backbone of these relationships, and it is essential to manage them efficiently. A robust lease management system can ensure business continuity during unforeseen disruptions or when physical access to the office is not possible. By streamlining the contract management process, organizations can minimize risks and maximize opportunities for growth and success.

The more comprehensively your lease management practices, the stronger your business continuity planning will be. This should include:

Understanding Lease Terms
The first step in retail lease management is to thoroughly understand the terms of your lease agreement. This includes the length of the lease, rent payments, maintenance responsibilities, and any clauses related to business continuity or termination.Regular monitoring and review of lease agreements

Regular Monitoring and Review of Lease Agreements
Retail leaders without experience in lease negotiations and management may find themselves overpaying, which can add risk to business continuity. It’s critical to monitor the lease, review the agreement, and be proactive about addressing issues that may arise, whether the retailer is being overcharged or not received agreed-upon accommodations.

Proactive Negotiation of Lease Terms
Whether the retailer has an existing lease that is being renewed or they are securing a new location, the lease agreement is an opportunity for mitigating risk to the business based on unexpected events, unanticipated costs, or changes to the space, location, or other tenants. It’s important to negotiate a renewal that aligns with your business goals and objectives including rent payments, lease terms, or other provisions that can help ensure business continuity.

Effective Communication with Landlords
The lease may serve as the backbone to the contract between landlord and tenant, but communication is what allows the relationship to flourish to the benefit of both parties. Maintaining open communication between tenant and landlord is key to ensuring business continuity.

Professional Tenant Representation
A tenant representative is an essential partner in assessing location needs, negotiating lease terms, and facilitating the communication and relationship between tenant and landlord. They are also the people who fight for the retailers they represent when terms are not honored or costs are not being controlled as contracted.

Plan for the Unexpected
It’s essential to have a plan in place for unexpected events that could disrupt your business, such as natural disasters, economic downturns, or changes in consumer behavior. This plan should include contingencies for rent payments, staffing, and inventory management.

Options That Protect the Retailer
Business continuity planning is often a game of what if. And building those what ifs into the lease agreement is essential for retail business continuity. Options for subleasing, sharing space, adjusting the size of the space, and delaying rent payments for certain circumstances are all examples of how the retail lease is essential for comprehensive retail business continuity.

Retail Business Continuity Planning Is Not Complete without Lease Considerations
Retailers and their lease management and tenant rep partners must have a clear understanding of the retail space and resource needs, any cyclical nature of the business, and have clear insight into the risks and liabilities contained within the lease. A lease management system like ASGEdge can be instrumental in not only ensuring retailers implement a strong strategy for choosing locations but for managing every location’s lease in a streamlined and efficient manner.

7 Common Myths in Tenant Representation

7 Common Myths in Tenant Representation 1440 428 ASG

Tenant representation or tenant rep can be complex, but the misconceptions some retailers have about it can prevent them from taking advantage of the opportunities it offers.

What is Tenant Representation?

Tenant representation is a service that brings experts with decades of experience to the table to help locate the best locations and negotiate the best possible outcomes on lease agreements. Tenant representation is essential – tenants need someone capable of understanding the market, using unparalleled market intelligence and geo-analytical tools to help retailers find the right locations, and employing that expertise to help ensure navigating, negotiating, and changing lease terms and fostering a tenant-landlord relationship into a partnership that benefits everyone in the industry.

Here we address the top seven misconceptions about tenant representation and why retailers choose the service.

  1. Tenant representation is only for big businesses.

While larger retailers may have more complex needs, more locations to manage, and bigger budgets, tenant representation can benefit retailers of all sizes. In fact, smaller retailers may benefit even more from tenant representation as they may not have the internal resources or expertise to navigate the commercial real estate market on their own. Tenant representation can help retailers of all sizes find the perfect space for their needs and negotiate favorable lease terms.

  1. Tenant representation is too expensive.

While there are costs associated with hiring a tenant rep, the benefits far outweigh the expenses. Tenant representatives help retailers save money by negotiating favorable lease terms, advocating for tenants, and steering tenants away from costly terms. Last year, ASG negotiated $13.5M in savings across 135 locations.

  1. Landlords won’t work with tenant representatives.

Most landlords are willing to work with tenant reps and many prefer it because they know they’re working with someone who has deep understanding of the market and can effectively negotiate on behalf of their client. Additionally, tenant representatives can help landlords fill vacancies quickly and efficiently, which can be beneficial for both parties.

  1. Tenant representatives only focus on finding the cheapest rent.

While finding affordable rent is important, tenant representatives also focus on finding the best overall deal for their clients. This includes negotiating lease terms, securing tenant improvements, and ensuring that the space meets the client’s needs. Tenant representatives work to balance cost with other important factors, such as location, amenities, and accessibility.

  1. We don’t need a tenant rep because we already have a lease.

Having a lease in place does not preclude retailers from being able to renegotiate terms based on changes in situation, ensure covenants are being met, and ensure flexibility. Even when a retailer has an existing lease, a tenant rep can provide insight into ways the lease can be enforced to save money.

  1. Tenant reps work for landlords.

Retail tenant reps work for the retailer they represent. Their goal is solely to ensure that you get the best possible lease. While many tenant reps have established relationships with landlords, this serves as a credibility factor, not a conflict of interest.

  1. We’re renegotiating an existing lease, so it’s not the right time.

Renegotiation may be one of the best times to enlist a tenant representative. The depth of expertise a tenant rep brings to the table can ensure that the terms of the lease are as beneficial as possible to the retailer, that there are no surprises included in the lease, and that there are adequate pathways for changing or ending the lease should there be significant changes in the situation.

tenant rep

Benefits of Tenant Representation

Retailers aren’t just seeking the lowest expense; it’s a combination of location, terms, and total occupancy cost that matters. A retailer might think they are negotiating a great deal on lease cost only to discover that the lease cost is lower than expected because the landlord takes a hefty percentage of sales or the retailer has no flexibility with regard to the space. Tenant representation helps the retailer in the negotiations. Here are some more benefits of tenant representation:

  • Tenant Reps Work for the Retailer

A tenant rep is there solely to represent the retailer in securing locations and negotiating the best possible deal for the retailer. There is no conflict of interest.

  • Tenant Reps Are Experts at Lease Negotiation

From quoted rents to exit strategies, tenant reps ensure that the retailer has protections in place that give them leverage if things change.

  • Tenant Reps Save Retailers Time and Money

Tenant reps excel at saving money on things like attaining lower rent costs, higher improvement dollars, and other quantitative measures, but they also negotiate for the things that retailers may not consider, like better renewal options, capped expense costs, kick-outs, and sublease options.

  • Tenant Reps Negotiate More than Just the Rent

Tenant reps analyze retail leases based on more than just the monthly rent, considering charges for real estate taxes, utility costs, construction costs, property insurance costs, CAM costs, and improvement allowances.

Tenant Reps Make the Difference

Entering your first negotiations with a landlord can be overwhelming and challenging. Without understanding the industry, the location, and the average lease costs for that area, many retailers end up signing on to deals that leave them with less profitability and more obligations. Tenant representation brings insight and expertise to the negotiation process.

See it in action: learn how we help Vineyard Vines problem solve & save money >

Sustainability: What Does it Take?

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Sustainability is mission-critical for retailers. Consumers demand it. Shareholders want it. The earth needs it. So why is it so hard to walk the walk?

There’s a common misperception among retailers that investing in sustainable building will be too costly to achieve any kind of ROI. Yet efforts to reduce carbon footprint, while perhaps more costly upfront, can be beneficial for retailers in the long run. While it takes effort to source products that are sustainable, using eco-friendly designs and recycled materials in retail locations are just two examples of ways brands are getting closer to sustainability goals.

As we’ve explained before, improving sustainability requires a willingness to do business differently. We’ll explore sustainable building in retail and what the future holds for this approach.

The Importance of Sustainable Building Practices in Retail

According to Microsoft, sustainability is a growing priority in retail and consumer packaged goods. Industry leaders, employees, investors, partners, and consumers who buy the goods care about sustainability.

  • 93% of CPG leaders spend more time on sustainability issues today than five years ago
  • 73% of Millennials prioritize sustainability over pricing
  • 55% of recent CPG market growth came from sustainability-marketed products

By implementing sustainable practices, retailers not only gain a competitive advantage with eco-conscious consumers but also reduce their carbon footprint.

Virtue Signaling vs. Environmental Commitment

Retailers who talk sustainability without verifiable actions raise doubts about their commitment. Virtue signaling – talking the talk without walking the walk – can instantly destroy a brand’s credibility. And even though there is a gap between what consumers say they expect and what they purchase, the intent for better sustainability is a growing trend among consumers and stakeholders. And with more legislation requiring specific commitments to sustainable practices, getting ahead of the curve can be cost-effective.

Sustainability Begins Before Building

As retailers refine their sustainability efforts, the first consideration is location. More than ever, sustainability includes answering the question, “How far do I expect my customers to travel to shop in my store?” The answer is often not as far as they used to. Smaller stores embedded in neighborhoods are a more sustainable alternative to larger stores that use more energy and require a longer trip to access.

What Steps Are Retailers Taking to Be More Sustainable?

There are a number of ways retailers can incorporate sustainability into buildings and materials—some might be easier and more cost-effective than you think.

Energy-Efficient Lighting
Energy-efficient lighting is one of the key components of sustainable building. It’s more than just LED lights, although that is an important component. LED lighting uses much less energy than traditional lighting and can last decades longer. However, other considerations can help with more sustainable lighting as well. Choosing to construct buildings in ways that take advantage of natural lighting can help save even more.

Efficient HVAC
Energy-efficient HVAC systems help significantly reduce energy consumption. While lower utility bills are the most obvious benefit of an efficient HVAC system, other benefits include better air quality and reduced health risks for employees and consumers.

Eco-Friendly Materials
IMM-Cologne explores the use of sustainable materials in retail design in great depth. They suggest solutions from the circular economy:

  • Terazzo floor slabs, bricks, and recycled concrete produced from construction waste.
  • Recycled PVC or vinyl floor coverings.
  • Recycled clothing made into curtains, shelving, counters, and more.
  • Alternative construction materials such as hemp, rapidly regrowing bamboo, or recycled plastic.

IMM-Cologne makes the argument for the importance of pursuing sustainability:
“Rising energy costs, shortages of raw materials, the new awareness in society and the increasingly visible consequences of climate change call for a new way of thinking. This should ultimately benefit everybody: companies, people and, above all, the environment.”

Eco-Friendly Retail Design
Sustainable building can also include using eco-friendly designs like green roofs and walls. Green buildings reduce heating costs by adding insulation while also reducing the urban heat island effect. According to the University Corporation for Scientific Research on urban heat islands,

“Heat islands form as vegetation that is replaced by asphalt and concrete for roads, buildings, and other structures necessary to accommodate growing populations. These surfaces absorb—rather than reflect—the sun’s heat, causing surface temperatures and overall ambient temperatures to rise.”

When retailers incorporate green roofs and walls into their structures, they help reduce this effect.

The Benefits of Sustainable Retail for Businesses and Consumers
Sustainable retail practices are good for the environment, but they also provide measurable advantages for businesses that implement these practices and the consumers who support them. Sustainable building can save retailers money on energy and water bills while also allowing them to connect with consumers on a deeper level, earning more customer loyalty. Plus, consumers benefit from a healthier shopping experience in buildings with improved ventilation and natural lighting.

“Some people will say sustainability is an additional cost, but once they’re doing it, it becomes second nature and integrated into how they do business,” said Sabine Schlorke, global manager for manufacturing at the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, in an interview with PWC. “If you see it as part of your business, it’s not a cost; it’s an opportunity.”

A Consumer Shift

“I hope when the industry slows down (in a good way), we will be able to focus more on using the sustainable products of the future—fixtures, building materials, flooring, and even playing around with 3D printing to make small tables and stuff,” he says. “It’s the future. I hope we can use it to think bigger.”
– Andrew Miller, ASG procurement and materials manager.

Consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious, choosing products with sustainable packaging and shopping brands whose values match their own with regard to sustainable efforts. Retailers have been rushing to get ahead of pandemic-related supply chain struggles, but making efforts to implement sustainable building practices where feasible demonstrates that they are listening to their customers. The effort and transparency go a long way in building a strong brand reputation and earning customer loyalty.

Are You Ready for the ‘Escrow Surprise?’

Are You Ready for the ‘Escrow Surprise?’ 1440 428 ASG

Every year at this time, we wait with bated breath for the spring renewal of all things beautiful, and somewhere in the middle, everyone scrambles to ensure their regular dance with the IRS is complete, and funds are exchanged. This same dance happens in retail at a much larger scale, in an episode that I now call the “Escrow Surprise!” It’s almost like an Easter egg hunt but not quite as full of childlike joy.

Every year, retailers’ leases require them to place funds in escrow (a prepaid an estimated expense, typically divided equally between twelve months) toward their portion of the Landlords’ annual tax billings. At the end of every year, Tenants receive a reconciliation of their share of the tax obligation, less what they have already paid toward that obligation, with a balance or credit due based on the actual assessments.

This year, as opposed to prior years, we are seeing wide variances in these estimated tax payments (escrows) and the final reconciliation. These variances often create large outstanding balances for retailers, sometimes in the tens of thousands of dollars. Whether this is a product of the government’s late-to-update property assessments, or owners/Landlords being behind in recognizing the increased obligations to retailers, the Escrow Surprise can cause angst for a Tenant with this new, unaccrued, and hefty financial obligation, particularly in an industry that has hit a wall.

We have some thoughts about protecting yourself. When it comes to commercial real estate tax escrows for retailers, both Landlords and government agencies play a crucial role in ensuring that these payments are made timely and accurately. In order to avoid missed escrows, it’s important for both parties to take proactive measures to stay on top of their responsibilities.

For Landlords, this means regularly reviewing their property tax bills and ensuring they are paid promptly. In jurisdictions where they are given discounts for early payments, they should seize these opportunities unless they plan to appeal. They should also keep accurate records of these payments and provide copies to their tenants as proof of payment. Additionally, landlords should communicate with their tenants regarding any anticipated changes in property taxes, new levies, or other fees that may impact their lease agreements.

Government agencies also play a critical role in preventing missed escrows. They should provide clear and concise information about property taxes, including due dates and payment options. They should also have accessible systems to track payments and ensure they have been properly credited to the appropriate accounts. Finally, government agencies should be responsive to inquiries and concerns from Landlords and provide assistance when needed to ensure that tax payments are made on-time.

Overall, the key to avoiding missed escrows in commercial real estate is clear communication, careful record-keeping, and proactive measures on the part of both landlords and government agencies. By working together, they can help ensure that Landlords are not burdened with unnecessary penalties or fees that cannot be passed on to the retailers.

How Retailers Can Protect Themselves

Most leases contain protection for the Tenant to avoid overpaying on expenses that are ultimately passed on to the Tenant (a pro-rata obligation). These come in the form of exceptions wherein Tenants are not responsible for fees assessed to the Landlord, or that Tenants are not responsible for paying at a rate they would otherwise pay, if they were paying these directly to the agency, county, or provider, especially with utilities.
Certainly over the past few years, what first seemed to be anomalous weather events that brought increases in Tenant-related expense for electrical, gas, HVAC, trash, insurance, snow and ice removal costs; appear to have quickly become the basis for escrow increases to these expenses passed on as an anticipated cost for the Landlord. Whether or not the logic holds, cost increases have propelled Landlords to bill at higher rates with the understanding that these “one-off” weather events are now a part of their anticipated costs, ultimately burdening retail Tenants with more upfront cost, and with the hope that they do their due diligence in reconciling these expenses correctly at the end of their periods, crediting any overpayments back to the Tenant.

For newer retailers, or retailers who are looking to renegotiate their leases, moving toward fixed-rate expenses (as often as possible) simplifies their portfolio and helps them to account for these expenses over the lifetime of their leases (read: ASC842, rent accounting). These fixed expenses, often with fixed increases each year, are easier to maintain and prevent any surprise costs from being passed through to the Tenant. A great example of this was the case with the Texas power outages of 2021.

Communication Is Key

Typically Landlords and Tenants have some form of process in place that is standardized for them. Landlord’s lease agreements, while potentially standardized for the larger national and international management companies, still have unique-to-Tenant language that must be reviewed and challenged by Tenant’s teams.
What we’ve learned over a period of time is that for many Landlords, utility expenses, additional Insurances, and overall increases to operating costs have been rarely communicated in a way that is justifiable to the Tenant or their leasing teams. Even when they are justified, clear communication is the best way to ensure trust in the Landlord-Tenant relationship, either by providing budgets in advance when Landlords anticipate escrow increases, or by more quickly making escrow adjustments on expenses when a reconciliation has been done and Tenant has any kind of credit or additional obligation (i.e., have been sent a Year End Adjustment).

Outsourcing Lease Management Can Help Protect Tenants

The onus is, unfortunately, on the shoulder of the Tenant at most times to push back on the Landlords when caps, fixed increases, and unallowable expenses are billed through on real estate taxes. However, it is the responsibility of the Landlord to, when appropriate, respond quickly when these discrepancies and disputes are presented, rather than tread water when a Tenant presents evidence of disparities. Preservation of the Landlord-Tenant relationship here is crucial when Tenants go to reevaluate their terms and any future lease agreements, and ultimately will impact the entire retail sector if- or when- Tenants evaluate their footprint in the physical retail marketplace.

The Modern Mall

The Modern Mall 1440 428 ASG

An Exciting New Chapter for the Modern Mall

The traditional mall, once a staple of American retail, has been undergoing a significant transformation in recent years. As consumer retail trends shift and evolve, retailers need to adapt to stay relevant in the changing landscape. While many analysts claim the mall will become a thing of the past, these retail centers can survive by embracing innovation, reinvention, and evolution.

From Shopping Centers to Experience Centers

Gone are the days when malls were simply places to buy clothing or electronics. Modern malls are becoming “experience centers” where consumers can immerse themselves in a wide array of activities beyond traditional retail. Mall operators and retailers alike are reimagining these spaces as dynamic destinations that offer a unique blend of shopping, dining, entertainment, and community experiences.

What’s driven this evolution? Well, Millennials and Gen Z report valuing experiences over possessions. Community gathering places are critical to these major demographics, who want places to connect, socialize, and make memories. As a result, modern malls are incorporating more experiential elements, such as entertainment venues, fitness centers co-working spaces, and community gathering areas, to provide a multi-dimensional experience that goes beyond shopping.

Consumers crave an interactive touch-and-feel shopping experience again. Many retailers have undergone major renovations, focusing on creating an upscale, hashtag-able, entertaining experience. While not every mall can have the full NYC Hudson Yards vibe, all retailers can create spaces for consumers to shop and play. A unique and memorable experience will drive traffic and, in turn, sales.

An Omnichannel Experience

While the pandemic had most consumers on a click-to-buy pattern, now that the world has reopened, consumers are ready to get out and shop again. But consumers are still in the buy-now mindset, expecting in-person retail to be just as quick and easy as e-commerce.

How are malls reacting to these new shopper expectations? Some malls are repurposing vacant retail spaces into fulfillment centers or last-mile delivery hubs, enabling retailers to meet the growing demand for online shopping and same-day deliveries. Other retailers are leveraging malls as showrooms or experience centers where customers can try out products before making online purchases. This allows them to showcase their brand and create an interactive shopping experience, while still capitalizing on the convenience and efficiency of online sales.

The integration of online and offline retail creates a seamless omnichannel experience for consumers, blurring the lines between physical and digital retail.

modern mall

Other Consumer Preferences Transforming Malls

Let’s take a closer look closely at some of the key consumer retail trends that are influencing the transformation of malls and explore the evolution we can expect to see.

  1. Experience-Driven Shopping: Unique and immersive experiences that go beyond traditional retail are driving younger generations to the mall. Modern malls are incorporating experiential elements, such as entertainment venues, interactive installations, and community events to create memorable and engaging experiences.
  2. Technology Integration: Consumers use tech in their everyday lives, and they expect retailers to use it to enhance their shopping experience. Expect to see more features like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences, digital signage, personalized/targeted marketing and specialized apps.
  3. Community-Centrism: Malls have an opportunity to position themselves as more than shopping destinations, but hubs for community engagement. Malls can make their mark on a community by hosting local events, supporting local businesses, and creating spaces for social gatherings, like rooftop gardens and event spaces. This trend is driven by the growing desire for authentic and localized experiences as consumers seek connections and a sense of belonging in their communities.
  4. Convenience: Consumers demand time-savings solutions and shopping experiences that cater to their busy lifestyles. And with the rise of e-commerce, they have come to expect it. Malls are adapting by incorporating services like curbside pickup, same-day delivery and streamlined returns.
  5. Sustainability: Consumers expect retailers to incorporate sustainable practices, such as recycling, green spaces and energy-efficient lighting (at the very least). This trend is driven by the growing importance of sustainability and social responsibility in consumer purchasing decisions.

A Dynamic Destination

The modern mall is undergoing a remarkable transformation to meet the changing needs and high expectations of today’s consumers. We are excited to be at the forefront, watching how retailers and mall owners embrace innovation, creativity, and technology to reinvent the mall experience. From immersive and experiential offerings to convenient and sustainable practices, the modern mall is poised to become a dynamic and engaging destination that goes beyond traditional retail.

Tapped Out: What It Takes for DTCs to Thrive Now

Tapped Out: What It Takes for DTCs to Thrive Now 1440 428 ASG

At first, the DTC model seemed unstoppable.

Companies found they could cut out intermediaries like retailers and distributors to offer their products at lower prices. With greater control over their brand and product offerings, DTC companies could provide a personalized and convenient shopping experience. With a sea of customer data, DTCs have valuable insights into customer preferences, allowing them to also optimize product offerings and marketing strategies.

But now, the DTC model is coming into question. Let’s dig into what has changed for DTCs and learn why it’s not so easy to thrive now.

Stiffer competition: As the DTC model found its footing during the pandemic, more brands jumped into the game. But this crowded marketplace has made it difficult to stand out and new entrants have difficulty differentiating themselves enough to capture market share.

Scaling is tough: Whether the DTC is a slow burn or an overnight success, scaling the brand can be an impossible balance between speed to consumer and maintaining the level of product quality and customer experience that got the brand there in the first place.

Continued rising CAC: The cost of customer acquisition has continued to increase with the increases in marketing costs. CPC is often too high to reduce the cost of acquisition. According to a new study, CAC has risen 60% in the last five years.

Supply chain issues: DTCs, like every other retailer, rely on a myriad of solutions to move their products through production and into the hands of consumers. Every step along the way can be costly, with disruptions that can swiftly cause trouble for the brand.

Profitability Is elusive: The DTC model demands a lot of upfront investment – in product development, marketing, and customer acquisition as well as supply chain. Profitability can be slow to achieve, making it difficult for the brand to sustain long enough to get there.

How DTCs Can Strengthen their Brands

Building and scaling a strong brand and delivering an exceptional experience is the goal, but achieving profitability requires addressing challenges in new and innovative ways. Yes, DTCs need differentiation and cost control; they need operational excellence and agility; and they need to deliver an unmatched customer experience. But these are the results, not the actions.

What actions can DTCs take to improve viability?

As the market contracts and more DTCs are going under, the ones who are determined to survive will need to become experts in diversification, pivoting to in-person, embracing wholesale, right sizing their brand, and repositioning with agility.

How DTCs Can Strengthen their Brands

“I remember there was a time where we used to acquire customers for $16 per customer — I mean, it was kind of crazy,” Sara LaFleur explained in an interview in Modern Retail. “We always thought of the subscription box as the acquisition channel, and then our customers would find themselves in either our showrooms or our e-comm channel shopping for themselves. And so that’s how customers were being pathed. And I think with the change in performance marketing and realizing just subscription was no longer working as an acquisition channel, the thought there was let’s shift our acquisition channel to now be from something else, and [using] our stores [as] a source of acquisition. And it actually absolutely has been. So rather than thinking of showrooms and retail as a retention channel, we’re now playing around with it also being an acquisition channel.”

Pivot to In-Person

For many DTCs, the best way to attain profitability and longevity is to make the move to in-person. Strategically opening physical stores can help raise brand awareness, attracting customers who were not already aware of the brand and increasing loyalty from existing customers.

“Consumers inherently trust brands that have a physical presence over those based solely online. In a recent report by global data intelligence company Morning Consult, roughly one-third (34%) of US consumers surveyed stated they don’t trust retailers with just an online presence. Meanwhile, 68% trusted retailers with just a physical store, and 73% trusted retailers with both a physical and online store.” – Chute Gerdeman

Embrace Wholesale (Again)

From partnering with larger online marketplaces to getting the DTC brand featured in a store like Target and other retailers, partnerships allow the brand to gain visibility while reducing marketing and customer acquisition costs. Two major sneaker companies – Adidas and Nike – were all in on DTC just a few years ago; now, in the face of ongoing struggles to maintain profitability, both brands are regrouping with a new love for wholesale. Another DTC sneaker company, Allbirds, reported a 40% decline in stock value. Their CEO, along with Nike and Adidas executives, all explained their plans to slow down on store openings and increase wholesale partnerships.

Compare those results to Skechers, who are on the path to achieving $10 billion in sales by 2026 by focusing on a true omnichannel, integrated experience for customers.

“We want to get the product to wherever the consumer is going to be.” – Skechers CFO John Vandemore.

Social Selling and Influencer Marketing

Social selling and influencer marketing is undergoing seismic shifts. DTC brands want to reach consumers where they are, when they’re ready to buy. But it’s much harder to gain traction as a new brand or an existing DTC with new privacy laws coming into effect. HBR recommends focusing on the 4 Cs of manufacturing organic marketing (content, consumers, creators, and celebrities).

“…between privacy concerns and Apple’s iOS 14 changes, Facebook has become much less effective in targeting customers, reducing the overall efficiency of digital customer acquisition. These changes have led brands to search for ways to manufacture organic marketing again. Faced with these challenges in 2023, new DTC brands, as well as existing incumbent brands, have to develop strategies that will allow them to generate organic attention and marketing.”

Pop-Ups

Pop-ups give DTCs the chance to test out the world of in-person retail without a huge commitment to a lease or a location. The amount of data the brand can collect from a pop-up location is immeasurable and can help define next steps.

“The pop-up is the equivalent of a fancy customer intercept survey. You can gather a lot of customer data with very little investment to determine whether or not it’s a good location, what kind of traffic you can expect, and what your product mix should look like, explains Carrie Barclay, President, ASG – Chute Gerdeman in ASG’s Path to In-Person Guide. “Pop-ups have increasingly become an effective way to test a market and make sure it’s a good fit for your brand before getting too heavily invested in the location.”

Right Sized

The goal of being right-sized is to achieve growth without sacrificing quality and experience. But for DTC brands, being right sized can have layers of meaning, from the kind of packaging being used to the number of showrooms, popups, and retail stores are opened. It can influence product mix, number of staff, and more. So what does it mean to be “right sized”? Right sized is the magic of finding the perfect balance between growth and profitability, operating at that point where their ability to scale is both sustainable and cost-effective.

Repositioning

While repositioning is always a part of retail strategy, when the market is contracting it is more important than ever for DTCs to use relevant and current consumer data to tighten their focus on meeting the need and wants of their customers, adjusting product mix quickly with marketing and customer experiences that reflect the quick response. It’s more than just being out there; it’s telling the story that connects the brand to the consumer in a way that shifts their behavior. As Matt Charlton writes in The Drum,

“The whole point of marketing, insights into the irrationality of people, real creativity, clever media, and brilliant product and experience is to allow brands to not have to wait around for consumers to organically adopt stuff. Anyone can do that, but to find ways of opening up awareness, desire, and validation to get people to change what they think they like and believe you have to make everything you can truly memorable. If I don’t remember much then you have to hope I buy because I’ve got no other choices and that is not what most D2C is about.”

What’s Next for DTC?

In an interview with Forbes, Bryan Mahoney, co-founder & CEO of Chord, a Commerce Platform-as-a-Service for fast growing D2C and omnichannel brands, explained the concept of DTC 3.0:

“DTC 3.0 is defined by a more substantial connection to customers, and a real reliance on first-party data. It’s almost as if we’re going back to basics: the focus is on getting close to consumers, understanding what they need, and offering them a unique experience that includes community. That’s what this new iteration of DTC is proving itself to be: a more collaborative, brand-building relationship between businesses and consumers.”

DTCs are facing sometimes insurmountable challenges, with more players going out of business. To survive and thrive, it will be necessary to make changes to strategy.

Bridging the Gap Between Digital & Physical Retail

We help DTC brands make the move to physical retail including the right location strategy and design / build services that bring the brand story to life. If you’re considering physical retail or evolving your brick-and-mortar strategy, let’s talk about how ASG’s experience in DTC could help.

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Fashion-Forward: Unconventional Business Models for Modern Consumers

Fashion-Forward: Unconventional Business Models for Modern Consumers 1440 428 ASG

Fashion and apparel brands with unorthodox business models are shaking up the industry, challenging the status quo, and creating exciting new opportunities for consumers and retailers alike. From degrowth principles to the persistent rise of subscription e-commerce, we explore a few innovative, fashion-forward brands changing the face of the industry.

Modular Fashion

The fashion industry is constantly evolving, and one of the latest trends to take the industry by storm is modular fashion. This concept involves creating clothing that has detachable components, enabling a piece of clothing to have an extended life cycle.

Fashion brand Buhndi has embraced this trend by allowing customers to create multiple looks from a single garment. For example, customers can purchase a base garment that matches all the blueprints and add-ons available. As new blueprints are launched, customers can keep building their look, reducing the number of clothes they purchase and extending the life of their wardrobe.

WGSN, a trend forecasting platform, has identified modular fashion as one of the top five trends for the next decade, attracting and empowering customers who are looking for a more sustainable and cost-effective choice.

Accessible Fashion Styling

Stitch Fix is a popular online personal styling service that uses data and technology to curate a personalized selection of clothing and accessories for its customers. The company’s business model revolves around leveraging algorithms and human stylists to create a unique and customized shopping experience for each customer.

Stitch Fix‘s business model combines technology and human expertise to offer a personalized shopping experience for its customers, which is both convenient and enjoyable. By leveraging data analytics and machine learning, the company can provide a tailored selection of clothing and accessories that match each customer’s style and preferences, while also allowing them to try items at home and providing valuable feedback to improve future selections.

Degrowth Principles

Degrowth is a concept that involves a managed reduction of the economy to bring it in line with planetary boundaries and meet climate goals. It has recently entered the mainstream sustainability lexicon, and some fashion brands are embracing this approach.

Early Majority, an outerwear brand, operates on a community-driven membership model and applies degrowth principles to its designs to create functional garments that can be worn anytime, anywhere.

In a Vogue Business article, founder Hoy Howard said the brand aims to create clothing that is not only sustainable, but is also functional and fashionable.

“The functionality and aesthetic of each garment should be able to take you from the bike to the boardroom, or from the bar to the backcountry, and the brand’s community member fees will eventually contribute more to overall revenues than product sales,” he said.

This approach aligns with degrowth principles, which aim to reduce consumption and promote a more sustainable way of living. While some view degrowth as a radical concept, many scientists believe it is necessary to meet climate goals.

Subscription eCommerce

Subscription commerce is growing at an exponential rate. In fact, the global subscription e-commerce market size was expected to hit just over $120 billion in 2022. It’s expected to reach more than $900 billion by 2026.

Subscription commerce allows customers to sign up for a recurring delivery of a particular product or service, such as clothing, beauty products or food. Brands use data and analytics to personalize the subscription experience. This model increases revenue through upselling or cross-selling relevant products.This approach not only increases customer loyalty but also helps brands to reduce inventory costs and better manage their supply chain.

At one point, many of us participated in subscription ecommerce (think back to our magazine and newspaper subscription days). However, subscription ecommerce has evolved into a solid strategy for other types of retail brands to reach a broader range of customers. In fact, subscription brands grew their customer base by 31% in 2021.

Some of the most popular subscription brands on the market include FabFitFun, which has nearly 200 million subscribers and sends them curated boxes of six to eight full-size items of the customers’ choosing. Digital content subscriptions like MasterClass has 1.5 million subscribers and provides video lessons taught by professional instructors and offers a special section of classes on design and style.

One advantage of the subscription commerce model is that it creates a predictable revenue stream for brands. Instead of relying on one-time purchases, brands can rely on a steady stream of revenue from recurring subscriptions. This allows brands to invest in product development, marketing and customer service to improve the overall subscription experience.

Clothing Rental

Rent the Runway is a clothing rental service that allows women to rent designer dresses and accessories for special events or everyday wear. The brand’s business model is based on the idea that women can rent high-quality clothing at a fraction of the cost of purchasing it. By renting rather than buying, consumers can enjoy the latest fashion trends without having to worry about the high cost of ownership.

Rent the Runway has also recently launched a subscription service called “Unlimited,” which allows users to rent up to four pieces of clothing or accessories at a time for a monthly fee. This subscription model allows the brand to offer an even more affordable and convenient option for customers who want to keep their wardrobes fresh and up-to-date.

Secondhand Treasures

There’s the saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” More and more retail platforms are embracing this wise advice–and building a brand in the process.

Thredup is a large online retail platform for women’s and kids’ apparel, shoes and accessories that allows consumers to buy and sell secondhand clothing. The company’s business model is based on the growing trend of consumers shifting their spending toward secondhand clothing, which is gaining market share at the expense of fast fashion, department stores and luxury brands.

A recent study found that the global apparel resale market hit $182.4 billion in 2022. That same research found that resale has grown 25 times faster over the past five years than the retail clothing market.

So how can companies profit from this business model? Thredup attracts high-quality supply without directly spending money to acquire sellers. Sellers choose Thredup’s managed marketplace to conveniently clean out their closets and earn a payout that can be received in the form of cash, Thredup online credits, select RaaS partner credits or a charitable donation receipt.

Unique Models will Continue to Emerge

While traditional business models still dominate fashion, there are several unique business models that are gaining popularity among brands. By leveraging technology and innovation, fashion brands can create a unique value proposition for their customers, which sets them apart from the competition.

These models offer flexibility, convenience, and sustainability, which are key factors that modern consumers are increasingly prioritizing. As fashion brands continue to experiment with new business models, we can expect to see more disruption and innovation in the industry, leading to more personalized, sustainable, and customer-centric fashion experiences.

Trends in Outdoor Living

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There’s just something about being in nature. It helps relieve stress, it makes it possible for us to get in touch with our emotions, and it offers us a great excuse to disconnect from technology. People want to be outside, and they’re not waiting for vacation time to squeeze in a camping trip to the mountain lakes—they’re creating outdoor living spaces at home. Let’s look at the trends.

Outdoor living—or “backyarding”—has “become part of our daily lives,” says Kris Kiser, President & CEO of the TurfMutt Foundation. TurfMutt offers three characteristics of the master backyarder. If you are one of them, you may already be hip to these outdoor living trends.

Indoor-Outdoor Design

One of the biggest trends in remodeling is kitchen remodeling—but not just the kitchen. For high-end remodels, it’s about extending the kitchen onto the back porch or deck, creating an indoor-outdoor entertainment space with a cohesive design and an easy flow. During the pandemic, more people started cooking at home and embraced baking; tying that newfound interest to the ability to connect with people in person again has made this one of the hottest trends.  Grills – a $5.4 billion industry, with expected growth through 2032, are a big feature. We will see more grills with outdoor stovetops as well as grills with commercial-style pizza ovens and smokers.

Fully Functional Outdoor Kitchens

In addition to grills, homeowners are adding fully functional outdoor kitchens to their backyard spaces—we are talking sinks and dishwashers, refrigerators, and kegerators included, along with a patio cover or a pergola to make it usable more months out of the year.  Standalone wood-burning pizza ovens, creative lighting and heating, and comfortable furniture designed for entertainment are also in high demand. Outdoor furniture brands like Outer are capitalizing on the trend, launching neighborhood showrooms where customers can try out their outdoor furniture in other customers’ backyards before investing.

Backyard Theaters

Food may play a central role in outdoor living trends, but these trends extend beyond the kitchen. A popular use of the backyard space is an outdoor theater. Screens, projectors, and comfortable seating is really all it takes to create an experience for the whole crowd. Upscaling the experience, some homeowners are installing fully wired outdoor theaters with screens set into protective alcoves. Conscientious planning means considering the plants growing in the backyard, too—for fragrance and for snacking (think snap peas and home-grown popping corn).

Food Grown at Home

With both an eye on sustainability and a desire for fresh food at a better price, more people are growing food at home. We’re talking about more than just a simple backyard garden, too, although gardens have grown in popularity too. A company called Lettuce Grow is helping lead the way. In a Forbes article, the company is described as “a pioneering new brand helping them take the leap and try home growing for themselves” with a hydroponic garden concept that helped consumers  grow and harvest 20% of their own fresh produce, eliminating food waste and reducing water and carbon impact by more than 98%.” Other trends in gardening include creating spaces that support pollinators, moving away from high-maintenance lawns by better incorporating native plants, and making the outdoor garden space a bigger part of the entire outdoor living experience.

Trends in Outdoor Living

Pools and Water Features

Outdoor living is all about turning the backyard into an oasis. It’s no surprise, then, that pools and water features are extremely popular in helping to create the full experience. Pool Magazine spoke to designers who suggest waterfalls, deck jets, and fountains as ways to promote tranquility.  The designers explained the techniques they use to create a more contemporary outdoor living space, including:

  • Flow and symmetry to visually connect different areas
  • Seating that creates areas of comfort and recreation
  • Landscaping that encourages a natural and serene environment
  • Using cabanas, pergolas, and shade sales to offer protection from the sun
  • Lighting that creates a warm and inviting atmosphere and allows the outdoor space to be used after the sun sets
  • Sustainable, eco-friendly designs, like solar heaters for pools
  • Smart tech like AI-powered pool fences and cleaning robots
Trends in Outdoor Living

Work-from-Home Spaces

Also born from the pandemic, work from home is here to stay for at least half the workforce, whether it’s all the time or part-time. But most WFH veterans are well beyond the point of squeezing the office into a corner of the living room or bedroom. Today’s work-from-home offices are upscale designs, and the latest trend is to create a workspace in the backyard— a separate building designed to make the workspace a joyful experience separate from homelife but without the commute. House Digest offers 30 different backyard office designs inspired by this trend.

Bringing the Outside In

Homeowners aren’t just expanding their living spaces outside. They’re also bringing the outside in. Apartment Therapy explains the trend and predicts that it will eclipse indoor-outdoor living: “Think of outdoor-indoor living as inviting nature indoors regardless of whether you’re surrounded by towering pine trees or towering skyscrapers. Designers and architects are looking more to traditional outdoor finishes (like stone, slate, and untreated wood) to breathe life into interiors and create a connection between daily life and the nature that surrounds us.”

From backyard entertainment to luxurious oases, outdoor living at home is hitting its stride.

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