The Real Estate Institute of Manitoba held its 32nd Annual Forecast Luncheon on January 26th at the RBC Convention Centre. The distinguished panel included Sandy Shindleman from Shindico, Rick Bachalo from The Great West Life Assurance Company and Don White from Colliers International.
The panelists engaged in a general discussion about the rise of m-commerce (like e-commerce, but commerce conducted from mobile phones) and the impact m-commerce is having on bricks and mortar retailers. In fact, in 2015 over 70% of Amazon sales were completed on mobile phones instead of computers.
Rick, a Commercial Mortgage Broker at GWL, highlighted the opening of the new Canada Post Concept store in Vancouver where the e-commerce has increased by 19% year over year since 2015. The new concept store is designed to serve today’s online shoppers and small business needs efficiently. It includes a 24/7 self-serve shipping kiosk and automated parcel drop box (and pick up box) where one can ship and pick up parcels night and day, a change room where one can try on their online purchases immediately and return whatever doesn’t fit minutes later, and a 24/7 vending machine selling supplies and stamps any time of day or night.
Don, an Executive VP at Colliers in Winnipeg, spoke of the “surban” development entity. Surban is a mix of urban and suburban living including new or redeveloped suburban downtown areas with the feel of urban living features but at an economical, suburban cost. Don recognizes that this in-fill development near the downtown is critical to the vitality of the downtown and will keep people out and about shopping, instead of shopping on their phones, from their living rooms.
An increasing number of millennials migrate to the urban lifestyle and want to be in developments with decent walkability scores to restaurants, transportation and entertainment options, but can usually only afford housing in the suburbs. This phenomenon has welcomed the development or re-development of these “surban” areas near our downtowns.
Sandy, the President of the Shindico Group of companies, pointed out the differences in developing assets that are built to sell and those which are built to keep. The developers who build to keep pay more attention to the tenant mix. The onus is on the Landlords or developers at the onset to put the right tenant mix together in their centres thereby giving the tenants the best opportunity to succeed. Providing great access, egress and comfortable parking and security are just some of the important features required to accomplish this. Shindico developments are great at attracting strong, traditional retailers, modern service providers and the ever-growing entertainment and experience category tenants to their centres. He stressed that the tenants in a bricks and mortar, non-virtual, leased space must put their energy and resources into enhancing their in-store experience. The sports bar offering within the recently-opened Nordstrom’s in Toronto is an excellent example of a new and exciting experience within a traditional retail environment.
While the challenges to bricks and mortar retailers remain apparent in Manitoba, the stakeholders in the commercial real estate industry in this province have the motivation, innovation and political will required to turn these challenges into success stories.
Stephanie White Willitts
Commercial Real Estate
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