First-time impressions of ICSC Convention

As a first-time attendee of the ICSC Convention in Las Vegas, I have four words to share: "Oh, my aching feet!" The show was exciting and I could feel the buzz in the air everywhere I went (except the casinos; that felt more like "cha-ching!"), but walking that 1.4 million sq. ft. of conference center was enough to bring the strongest and youngest attendee to their knees. That said, let me tell you about what I saw and heard.

The Internet and the e-commerce revolution were the most discussed subjects of the convention. The fact that e-commerce will most likely never replace bricks-and-mortar retail was a subject that seemed to be reiterated in all my conversations and the sessions I attended. Theater and entertainment are probably the least vulnerable to e-commerce, according to speakers at the sessions and from what I gathered from general discussions.

As one of the members of the panel for the session, "The Impact of Internet Sales - How Will it Affect Shopping Centers?" put it, "You're not going to take a date to a computer to watch a movie." Those in attendance agreed that these areas probably would not be affected because theaters have moved into the mainstream. Theaters, which still can be essential, traffic-driving center anchors, are now standing on their own and doing very well.

Other convention highlights included Clyde Fessler, vice president of business development for Harley-Davidson Motor Co., telling the lunch audience "The Harley-Davidson Turnaround Story." Fessler recounted an inspiring tale about how his company, which was ready to announce its demise, did a complete about face .

Of course there were the trade and leasing malls. Thanks to all the retailers and real estate professionals who took the time to sit down with me to tell me about their companies and their projects - even to explain the complex details of real estate finance. I made some great contacts and I look forward to working with all of you on my "retail beat." Don't forget those scoops you promised me!

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