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RECon 2012: Platform for talk of recovery

May 24th, 2012
Katherine Field Boccaccio, Chain Store Age

As retailers and shopping center executives returned to their respective home bases following their biggest show of the year–RECon–they did so with talk of recovery echoing in their ears.

This year’s event–the International Council of Shopping Centers’ RECon convention, held May 20-23 in Las Vegas–was a platform for discussions about expansion and freer capital, albeit tempered by what industry experts are calling a new discipline in the way we all do business.

Starbucks’ Brenda Godfrey, VP global store development, candidly discussed the coffee chain’s “new discipline” during Sunday’s Women in Real Estate panel discussion.

“Closing stores [during the recessionary period] was not something Starbucks took lightly,” said Godfrey. “We agonized internally over the decisions that had to be made, knowing that we would be impacting not only employees but neighborhoods and communities. However, from that we gained a new internal discipline to growth that we will carry with us now and in the future.”

Charles Wetzel, head of Fort Worth, Texas-based customer analytics firm Buxton, had his own thoughts about discipline: “There is so much private equity money out there right now, but we need to be intelligent in what we do with it. Retailers know they can’t afford to stumble.”

Notes of caution were audible undertones throughout an otherwise ebullient crowd of 31,000 at the convention. “We are still not out
of trouble,” said Greg Maloney, president of Jones Lang LaSalle Retail, Atlanta. “There is still instability, but there are positive signs of slow and gradual recovery. That recovery will take time, however, with all of the debt that we have.”


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