Capital for real estate transactions is increasing from all quarters. Increased investing on the part of life insurance firms, CMBS lenders, CDO providers and banks, spurred on by an improving economy, are all having an effect. "From nearly every capital segment there are more active participants and the competitiveness among lenders has intensified markedly over the last few quarters," said Tom Fish, an executive with Jones Lang LaSalle's real estate investment banking team.
Fast-fashion retailer Forever 21 has been building ever-larger stores since it started snapping up former Mervyns locations several years ago, and it's continuing to super-size its stores even as other chains look to shrink their brick-and-mortar footprints. Last month, the chain opened its biggest store, a 150,000-square-foot Fresno, Calif., unit that sits in a former Gottschalk's department store.
Some industry observers have predicted that enclosed, multistory regional shopping malls will give way to open, "lifestyle" retail developments. Many large regional malls, however, are building sales with innovative strategies to attract upscale retailers and affluent shoppers to their often excellent locations.
Nordstrom is looking north to make its first foray into international brick-and-mortar retail, and it has begun looking for locations in Canada that would suit one of the company's full-line department stores. The Seattle-based company already attracts Canadians who shop while visiting the U.S., and consumers to the north make up the largest share of Nordstrom's global online customers.
Discount retailers were very active during the International Council of Shopping Centers' annual convention in Las Vegas, said Nationwide Realty Investors CEO Brian Ellis. Deal-making is always rampant during the conference, said Ellis, but this year "the more value-oriented retailers are more active."