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CCIM forum: Commercial retail in Wichita slow to pick up on national trends

Monday, October 21 2019 2:40 PM

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Some of the latest trends in commercial retail show we can expect to see more innovative entertainment and dining options.

Clothing brands may open a store simply for customers to try on clothes and get fitted for sizes.

Retailers have created temporary pop-up shops with interactive experiences to test their newest products.

And the Esports industry continues to thrive, with Simon Property Group investing $5 million earlier this year into esports promotion and arena operator Allied Esports, Reuters reports.

But it may be a while before Wichita really notices the trends.

"We are not the primary growth market for some of these new concepts," said Charlie King of Occidental Management. "We don't see them filtering down to Kansas yet."

King spoke Friday during a state-wide commercial real estate forum hosted by the Kansas chapter of the Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) Institute. Much of the forum didn't necessarily tell us anything we didn't already know about the demand for more industrial space and the shift in office needs fueled by the desire for Wichita companies to attract and retain good talent.

But in terms of retail, King said it's been a great year nationally for retailers as consumers continue to spend money.

But that's not to say online shopping hasn't had an effect.

Retailers such as Charlotte Russe, Forever 21 and Charming Charlie have gone bankrupt in the last year. Yet, there's growth in value-oriented retailers, including Aldi, Ross Dress for Less, Costco and Five Below.

Entetainment and dining options, he said, will be the anchors for retail development in the future. Particularly at big-box retail stores that have become vacant.

"They bring a lot of traffic and keep consumers on site a little bit longer and drive sales in their stores," King said.

There are certainly indicators of the trends in Wichita.

For example, VASA Fitness is opening at an old Hobby Lobby location at 21st and Woodlawn, and Round 1, a bowling and entertainment complex, is coming to the JCPenney wing at Towne East Square next year, the Wichita Eagle reports.

A Dave & Buster's recently opened near Webb Road and K-96.

King said Revolutsia, the mixed-use complex of shipping containers off East Central Avenue, is a good example of smaller-scale retail opportunities with an outdoor common area.

There's even been talk of turning Century II into a Esports arena, although the future of the performing arts and convention center is still unknown.

Still, King said it typically takes two to three years before national real estate trends start to trickle into the Wichita market. He said that's partly because retailers can test out new concepts in major cities like Kansas City or Dallas where they'll find more population, and therefore more revenues.

Retail vacancy rates across Wichita appear strong, however, with northeast Wichita performing strongest and northwest Wichita with the highest rate, King said.

He reported these vacancy rates:

  • Southwest Wichita: 11.3 percent.
  • Southeast Wichita: 12.7 percent.
  • Northwest Wichita: 15.9 percent.
  • Northeast Wichita: 7.4 percent.
  • Central business district: 8 percent.

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