Retail leases · Shopping Center · Uncategorized

Two encouraging lessons for commercial real estate from coronavirus

It has been rough for all of us to watch and experience what has been going on in retail over the past few weeks. I was encouraged last week when an International Council of Shopping Center’s friend from Shanghai relayed that retail was picking back up in his city. But, locally – nationally – here, the wait and see hasn’t been easy.

But, there are two really positives coming out of these shutdowns – one objective and one subjective.

Objectively, we have learned the term we have been using in the industry for the past 12-24 months – phantom restaurants – can absolutely work for the future. Absolute proof that a restaurant can succeed without a dine-in presence.  So, those otherwise undesirable, non-fronting or limited-frontage spaces have yet another potential, successful use.


Subjectively, this pandemic proves that we are all ultimately social creatures. We need interaction with one another. My family and friends will tell you that one of my favorite personal sayings is (jokingly) “I hate people” – only because I am very much an introvert. But, the truth is, (and I am hearing Lyle Lovett’s “I love everybody” as I get ready to type this), I really do truly like almost all people. Even as an introvert, I need social interaction.

So, while we can order so much online, we still need to see and be around people. We need the head nod passing another shopper in the store. We actually need crowds.

And, while every family member and friend I know might complain about the difficulty of finding parking at Avalon, our beautiful, successful mixed use destination in Alpharetta, any one of them would prefer buying their favorite leggings or yoga pants in person at Lululemon than online. They need that social interaction.

We’ll be back after this pause.

I can’t wait to not be able to find a parking spot at Avalon!

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