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Colliers: Retailers investing in technology, opening stores and updating existing units

Seattle -- Retail companies are more able and willing to reinvest in their businesses, as evidenced by sharp increases in 2012 capital expenditure budgets, according to a new white paper released by Colliers International.

The report, “On the Road Again: What’s Driving Retail Real Estate’s Recovery and Who’s Getting There First,” finds that technology improvements are focused on improving and integrating all sales channels: brick-and-mortar, online, mobile and catalog operations. Retailers are also investing in opening new stores, upgrading existing locations and experimenting with smaller prototypes.

Other key findings in the report include:

  • Retailers currently out front in the market, such as Apple Stores, offer customers an in-store experience that's highly personalized -- contrasted with the online experience--and one that allows customers to truly engage with their products and their brand. Those who reward customers for their footwork -- enabling them to research and test products in stores and enjoy a multisensory experience -- are gaining the most ground.
  • Future store closings are far more likely to impact businesses that sell goods than those focused on services, which are more difficult (if not impossible) to transact over the web. A higher percentage of service uses forces lenders and appraisers to rethink how they value real estate projects.
  • More than 90% of the 158 regional malls that generate the highest in-line sales are owned in full or in part by publicly traded Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). REITs have larger portfolios to refinance debt at better rates than smaller competitors, among other advantages. Retailers in smaller markets need to be creative to maintain a unique tenant mix, possibly accepting lower rents short-term for long-term stability and cash flow.
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