One can look at the economic downturn as a depression, or one giant market correction. We simply have way too much retail – take a look at the chart below. Amazing isn’t it? The message may be clear that the era of big boxes and shopping malls has peaked, but the question is, what’s the next generation of more sustainable retail going to look like?
For starters, look at the top shopping districts around the world that have stood the test of time, and you’ll often find pedestrian-only shopping walks where the retail is mixed with outdoor dining tables of restaurants amid myriad entertainment destinations (even office and housing) – see the Retail Entertainment Districts category on this site for numerous examples.
Planetizen’s Can Retail be Reinvented? article provides some telling quotes:
“Shopping is social networking,” Henry Beers of Communication Arts. If this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, check out Yelp!. When you’re familiar with Yelp!, think of its discussion forums as town squares and plazas in shopping districts.
“We need to get back to basics, real markets and real people, create a sense of place, a sense of belonging,” Ken Wong, Vice Chairman at retail developer, The Related Companies.
“The suburbanization of America is over. Infill development is going to be an important evolution as our economy changes. And it’s going to be good business. When the spigot turns back on, it’s going to be funding infill projects.” Morgan Dene Oliver, CEO of real estate developer OliverMcMillan
Btw, if you’re wondering how the situation displayed by the chart is remotely possible, check out Money As Debt by Paul Grignon. It’s 47 minutes long, but should be required reading for everyone.