In a ranking of 13 real-estate investment trusts (REIT) sectors in the US by the research house Seeking Alpha, the performance of shopping-centre REITs (down 18% for the first seven months of 2017) and malls (down 9%) were the worst. Industrial REITs (up 9% in 2017) were improved on only by data centres, prefabricated homes, single-family rental properties and healthcare. Seeking Alpha, though, believes the ‘retail is dying’ narrative is misleading. Perhaps it’s just changing.
Net new store openings in the US have been positive to the tune of 1,000 or more every year this decade. Store closings have been concentrated in apparel but the sector has also been opening units at a rapid clip. In fact, store choice has become more extensive in response to online offerings, with niche retail back in favour. Also, digital shopping has made the conventional department store evolve, and we are actually seeing some new concepts opening. Consumers are used to convenience and targeted marketing – and are more aware of the vast range of products available to them, whether they walk into a store, visit online, or both.