The fastest 100 hours of the year are now over.
From the first burst of traffic at the Trade Expo to the die-hards still making the rounds even as I type this, just over four days have passed. It feels like four months. So much is loaded into each day (except sleep) during this annual cavalcade of wheeling and dealing. The added space made a huge difference. No longer did it feel like you were constantly on top of other people. Yet even the companies that beefed up their booths had every chair and table occupied with site plans, leasing sheets and other documents spilling all over the place.
Technically, the ICSC Spring Convention is still going with the Leasing Mall open for a few more hours. But as is it is for Wednesday every year, the Leasing Mall is already little more than a ghost town. So now is as good a time as any to start making sense of the madness. Overall, my sense is that spirits remain high and retail real estate pros as optimistic as ever. Sure, there is recognition that things very likely will slow a bit soon, but there are many reasons to believe the slowdown could be minor. Most critically, the retailers themselves were incredibly aggressive this year. They took advantage of the larger show area to create bigger booths. And most were not just looking for this year's deals but also figuring out expansion plans for 2008, 2009 and further.
I'm still trying to process everything I saw and learned over this past four+ days. For now, I offer a simple countdown of what my four days was like.
- Sit-down Meetings: 30
- Business Cards Collected: 80
- Hours of Sleep: Roughly 12
- Sit-down Meals Consumed: 1
- Cocktail Parties Attended: 15
- Drinks Consumed: ??
As always, though, it was a blast. The entire Retail Traffic and National Real Estate Investor teams got a chance to meet with dozens of firms, made new contacts and learned a ton about where retail real estate pros think the industry is going.
And just think, the next Spring Convention is just 360 days away.