The Puget Sound region is one of the fastest growing areas in the U.S. We are seeing that reflected in the retail landscape, with innovation and expansion throughout the area. We are at the forefront of retail evolution, thanks to having some of the best-known retail innovators in our back yard who have turned the world of retail upside down by giving every consumer access to virtually every product available via home delivery. And yet, they are also innovating into brick and mortar experiences.
Retailers are continually looking for ways to improve the consumer experience, not only through product offerings, but in forward-thinking store concepts that focus on experience and social community. REI’s focus is providing quality outdoor products at approachable price points in an interactive environment.
While the most active/desirable retail areas (based on sales per square foot potential and residential and daytime populations) are the CBD, South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, University Village and downtown Bellevue, the demand for quality/value, experience, fitness and food remain consistent trends in the market. Nordstrom Rack has been expanding throughout the U.S. and will soon be opening a new store in Bellevue’s Phase II at Lincoln Square to meet this desire for quality and value. A sports and lifestyle footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories manufacturer just completed the renovation of its Seattle flagship store, which successfully conveys the quality/value combination.Westlake Center is also evolving to appeal to this demand with Sak’s off 5th joining Nordstrom Rack and Zara, making Westlake an affordable fashion destination in the CBD.
Restaurants of every food type are opening at a record pace as new mixed-use buildings proliferate throughout Seattle and the Eastside. The Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room offers a unique experience, coupled with a quality product on Capitol Hill. Westlake Center will soon feature a food hall concept that will replace the old-fashioned food court of yesterday.
The expansion of fitness concepts that cater to consumers’ desire for specific, quality workout experiences is trending significantly. Today’s consumer is likely to frequent more than one fitness establishment. Crossfit training, barre training, boxing, pilates, yoga and spin class concepts are expanding at record rates.
In Puget Sound, we know retail is not dead. It is evolving and will remain a critical part of our daily lives and social experiences. What we are seeing is a new buzzword in the retail community: retail obsolescence. Obsolescence can be defined as an old and/or outdated concept whose value is significantly diminished or eliminated. Cassettes, dicta-phones, typewriters, ice boxes — these products were at one time an invaluable part of our daily lives. Now, all of them have been replaced by a superior alternative. Puget Sound is at the forefront of changing retail. While old concepts like Sears, Kmart, Payless and Radio Shack are closing doors, innovative brands like Warby Parker, Odlo, Wild Fang and Hyden Yoo are keeping retail fresh.
— By Susie Detmer, Senior Vice President, CBRE. This article first appeared in the June 2017 issue of Western Real Estate Business magazine.