Retail REIT The Macerich Company MAC recently unveiled a new retail concept — BrandBox — that will offer digitally native brands “a programmatic approach” to open, operate and scale stores as a complement to e-commerce.
The Tysons Corner Center in Tysons, VA, happened to be the first BrandBox site with Winky Lux, Naadam, Interior Define, Nectar Sleep, DKNY, and UrbanStems. More locations are likely to come up next year at the company’s select properties.
Notably, the full package of flexible real estate and services, including design, retail analytics, technology and marketing will help bridge the digital and physical retail. Specifically, per the company’s press release, BrandBox members will be able to organize a fully-functioning retail store, which is unique to their brand's aesthetic and character, rather than in a pop-up or department store format. Also, with the help of data and analytics, BrandBox members will be able to measure the impact of physical stores on their e-commerce growth.
Such a move comes at a time when mall traffic is struggling for a fluid sail amid e-commerce boom, with store closures and retailer bankruptcies affecting retail landlords, such as Simon Property Group SPG, Kimco Realty Corp. KIM, Macerich, and Taubman Centers, Inc. TCO.
Nonetheless, faced with such challenges, retail REITs too are fighting back and transforming their retail shopping centers in a way such that these spaces appear as a one-stop destination where people can not only shop, live and work, but also entertain, socialize and exercise, and even visit doctors or relax at the spa.
Also, the companies are making efforts to grab the attention of online retailers, and rolling out innovative platforms to go beyond e-commerce and expand their presence to physical store formats. Eventually, such measures are aimed at growing mall traffic and driving sales.
Recently, Simon Property introduced a scalable retail platform for both emerging and established brands to showcase new products and the latest trends for shoppers in the company’s high productive shopping centers. This platform referred as 'Launchpad – A Simon Edit' will be unveiled on Black Friday at six of the company’s properties. The locations include Lenox Square (Atlanta), King of Prussia (Philadelphia), Roosevelt Field (Long Island), South Shore Plaza (Boston), Town Center at Boca Raton (South Florida) and Orland Square (Chicago). (Read more: Simon Unveils New Platform Launchpad at Six Properties)
Nevertheless, implementation of such measures requires a decent upfront cost and therefore, would limit any robust growth in the near-term profit margin of retail REITs. Also, rate hike adds to its woes.
Macerich currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). The company’s shares have declined 16.2% in the past three months compared to the industry’s loss of 14.5%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
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