REITWorld 2014: Demand Outpacing Supply Augurs Well for Retail REITs

A lack of new supply and a concerted effort by retailers to develop omnichannel shopping strategies bode well for the future of retail REITs, according to a panel at REITWorld 2014: NAREIT’s Annual Convention for All Things REIT.

Ross Smotrich, managing director at Barclays, moderated the panel and noted that new development in the retail sector “may be at a generational low.”

Michael Carroll, CEO of Brixmor Property Group (NYSE: BRX), described the current supply environment as “unprecedented.” Donald Wood, president and CEO of Federal Realty Investment Trust (NYSE: FRT), added that “pretty broadly, we see demand exceeding supply.”

At the same time, retailers have successfully incorporated the Internet into their business model, according to the REIT executives on the panel.

“Retailers have a greater understanding of where stores fit in an omnichannel strategy. Brick-and-mortar stores have become more important,” said Arthur Coppola, chairman and CEO of Macerich (NYSE: MAC). He added that within a year, Macerich expects to introduce virtual concierges into its malls.

“Technology has made us better landlords,” said Wood, noting that real estate owners offer more solutions, ideas and flexibility toward their tenants than at any time in the past.

Craig Macnab, chairman and CEO of National Retail Properties, Inc. (NYSE: NNN), echoed Wood’s sentiments about the importance of flexibility.

“There are lots of changes happening fast,” Macnab said. “We have to adapt.” Macnab also stressed the importance of “hitching our wagon to great retailers.”