06/16/2022 | by Sarah Borchersen-Keto

Phillips Edison & Co., Inc. ( Nasdaq: PECO) is seeing a “really strong” operating environment across its portfolio, but the REIT also has a realistic view that there are going to be pressures weighing on the consumer from a range of macroeconomic factors, Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Edison said.

Speaking on Nareit’s REIT Report, Edison noted that questions from investors at Nareit’s REITweek: 2022 Investor Conference last week revolved around the theme of potential disruption to the current environment from factors including higher interest rates and inflation pressure.

“I think we have a realistic view that there are going to be pressures on the consumer from those macro events,” Edison said.

Edison also noted that the REIT, which held its IPO last year, would book between $300 million and $400 million of net new acquisitions this year, and is currently ahead of target.

“It's a very fragmented business where there are a lot of different owners and no real concentration. And because of that, we feel really good about meeting our acquisition targets,” Edison said.

Meanwhile, the REIT lost less than 1% of its occupancy during the entire pandemic, which was market leading, according to Edison. He added that this is also an indication of how entrepreneurial retailers are in the grocery-anchored shopping center segment.

Edison also discussed the wide-ranging impact of technology in the retail real estate space. “I think we're at the very early stages of some fairly dramatic changes in terms of how we operate our centers and lease our centers and interact with our customers,” he said.