How the Pandemic Challenged Retail Real Estate

The retail real estate industry “has seen five to 10 years of change in six months” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to one of the most influential voices for retail real estate, Tom McGee. McGee, president and CEO of the International Council of Shopping Centers, recently spoke to the Weitzman team during a statewide meeting held virtually, which itself is evidence of the changes evoked by the pandemic. As the ultimate consumer-facing industry, retail is at the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis, McGee said. Trends accelerated during the pandemic include curbside pickup, online shopping, and the merger of the digital and physical worlds. McGee noted that people talk about the different channels for shopping, but he says, “There is only one channel—the consumer channel.” To be successful, especially today, retailers need to satisfy customer needs no matter when, where, and how they want to shop. Many of these trends already were in the works, but the acceleration caused by the pandemic requires rapid structural changes on the part of shopping centers and retailers. Curbside, for example, requires restructuring traffic flow within a project and requires the retailer to adjust the store layout to accommodate the change. Post-pandemic, McGee expects to see a physical retail rebound to or near pre-pandemic levels, even though some changes like increased online shopping and curbside pickup will remain highly utilized. Click to read more at