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Cushman & Wakefield Examines the Convergence of eCommerce and Real Estate

“Bricks vs. Clicks II” Webinar Recaps the Holiday Season and Explores Implications for Retail and Industrial Product

Chicago IL— Holiday retail sales grew 4.0 percent in 2016, well above the 2.6 percent 10-year average. Yet eCommerce performance eclipsed brick-and-mortar resoundingly, and the long-term – year-round – implications for both retail and industrial real estate are increasingly significant, according to commercial real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield.

The firm in February hosted the second installment of its “Bricks vs. Clicks” webinar series, offering an analysis of the holiday season, and the general impact of eCommerce on the supply chain and physical store locations. Cushman & Wakefield’s Ben Conwell, eCommerce Fulfillment Practice Group leader (and former Amazon North American operations real estate director), and Garrick Brown, head of Retail Research for the Americas, led the discussion.

“We expected a strong holiday shopping season simply because of consumer economics – with lower unemployment rate and wage growth really picking up,” Brown said. “All of that seemed to play out. The big challenge, if you’re in bricks and mortar, is did you feel much love?”

Conwell and Brown touched on a variety of relevant trends and data points including, among others:

  • eCommerce in terms of share of total overall retail and GAFO (general merchandise, apparel, furniture and other) sales.
  • Brick-and-mortar retail performance: “winners” and “losers.”
  • Peak holiday sales periods with year-over-year revenue comparisons.
  • The impact of click-and-collect, and in-store returns for purchases made online.
  • Amazon’s continued dominance in the online marketplace.
  • Walmart’s acquisition of jet.com and the early results.
  • Store closures and the impact on mall vs. non-mall shopping center vacancies.

One forward-facing trend the webinar addressed involves the evolving surge of cross-border retail with China, which is predicted to increase 177 percent over the next three years. “It is a very hot area we have been talking about with investor clients and real estate clients for some time,” Conwell noted. “The potential for going ‘upstream’ against the traditional flow of online sales is huge. We will see, unquestionably, big increases in the west-to-east sale of goods from U.S. retailers to Chinese consumers. For our industrial clients, that means continued demand for logistics product.”

The Bricks vs. Clicks II webinar archive is available in its entirety at http://www.cushmanwakefield.com/en/research-and-insight/2017/bricks-vs-clicks/. Bricks vs. Clicks I, which originally aired in November, can be viewed at http://bit.ly/2fXnPcm. Looking ahead, part three of the series will explore eGrocery and other emerging trends.