Are ‘live, work, shop, play’ environments a big part of retail’s future?

Discussion
Source: Westfield Garden State Mall
May 02, 2019
Tom Ryan

According to a new study on mixed-use developments from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), 78 percent of U.S. adults would consider residing in “live, work, shop, play” environments that have a variety of housing, workplaces, dining and recreational outlets for entertainment all within close proximity to one another.

Such environments are particularly appealing to Millennials (85 percent) and Gen X (80 percent), the survey found. Seventy-one percent of Boomers are also interested in living in “live, work, shop, play” environments. That’s likely reflected in the finding that the top reason to reside in “live, work, shop, play” environments is the convenience/efficiency of being close to almost everything (55 percent), followed by easier access to amenities as they age (46 percent).

The findings are similar to those from a comprehensive 2017 survey from the National Association of Realtors that found, when purchasing a home, 80 percent place importance on being within easy walking distance of places. Sixty-two percent of Millennials and 55 percent of the silent generation (those born between the mid-1920s and mid-1940s) were found to prefer walkable communities and short commutes, even if it means living in an apartment or townhouse. Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers still showed a strong preference toward suburban living.

Part of the interest in “live, work, shop, play” environments comes from Millennials and younger Boomers rediscovering cities and downtowns. A study led by researchers at Rutgers that came out last year found educated Millennials prefer larger, more urban environments for the perks of diversity, economic opportunities, entertainment, safety and the feeling of status.

Smaller, walkable cities appeal residents due in part to the charm offered by locally-owned shops and restaurants, as well as their affordability.

Some real estate observers believe that Millennials, early in their careers and encumbered by student loans, can’t yet afford expansive homes and may head to the suburbs as their families expand. A new study from the National Association of Realtors found the local job market and affordability as the main drivers of Millennials’ home-buying decisions.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see interest in “live, work, shop, play” environments as an expanding, long-term trend? What’s driving their appeal and what adjustments should retailers and real estate developers make?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"“Self-contained” communities will play a significant role in retail’s future in urban settings."
"The interesting thing with these types of developments will be the integration of digital shopping and the resulting logistics."
"I know, old school thinking but, I’d still like all those components to be entirely separate, especially in today’s “surveillance economy.”"

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20 Comments on "Are ‘live, work, shop, play’ environments a big part of retail’s future?"


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Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

The appeal of driving through traffic, dealing with all friction of going to the traditional mall and department store has diminished. Mixer use residential and commercial spaces have emerged, which has helped to revitalize downtown shopping districts.

With Apple and other retailers stepping up their games with the town center shopping concepts, we should expect continued investments by real estate developers, retailers and other service providers in the downtown districts. The Millennials, Gen Z, and all the other gens have spoken, and are seeking an escape from all the digital connectivity. The local shopping district, near where you live and work is the future.

The market has spoken, and we should expect to see the lines between work, life, and home blur with these developments.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

This one is easy, from a very personal point of view, in an “if I had it to do all over again” frame of reference. Started in Los Angeles, commuting an hour and a half each way by car. Then living in CT and taking the train into NYC for an hour and a half each way. For 12 years I commuted from Pittsburgh to NYC every week, in on Monday and back on Friday. I had good to great jobs, but not what I would call a balanced life.

So yeah, sign me up for “live, work, shop, play.” There is way more to life than time in trains, planes and cars.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

People love convenience — not just in the companies they do business with, but also in their lifestyles. Convenience is defined differently from person to person. For some, living out in “the country” with a grocery store “just 15 minutes away” is considered convenient. For others, the idea of walking from home to work to “shop and play” is convenient. There seems to be a trend in a generation that enjoys the latter. In a major city like NY or Chicago, it may be “live, shop, play, with work just a few train stops away.” The appeal in all of this is convenience.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

A live/work/play community is less isolating, has a better carbon footprint, and is overall just easier, as long as the builders can accommodate the equally important need for privacy.

This isn’t going away any time soon. I can tell you it is widely discussed among Boomers, for sure.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

There are several cross-currents at play that have led for several years to the growth of the “town center” and mixed-use development. But the question is whether younger consumers drawn to the more organic experience of living in a central business district will flee to the suburbs as they age, and succumb to the “faux” charms of a planned development like a town center.

Charles Dimov
BrainTrust

Goes back to the “Walkable Retail” concept. There is a big attraction to just about every generation about the opportunity to avoid traffic headaches, and live in the center of it all. It is a long-term trend, and one that develops a healthy ecosystem for retailers, as well as a vibrant community. This has been evolving for some time with the evolution of the malls in this direction … but good to see that it is a “thing” beyond just when the big anchor store pulls out.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

Brilliant: “consider customer needs and desires and then fulfill them.” This colonization of a market with a strong preference to be able to shop close to home is putting the customer preference to the forefront. I believe Nordstrom has already put this in the mix. For a retailer this is a great move, with the traditional store feeding the satellite stores. Spreading the brand, nurturing customers. Good move.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

My husband and I have kicked around getting a place in New Orleans’s French Quarter because we love the walk everywhere vibe. We could do a city too, even out of the way places like downtown Salina, Kansas have that vibe, the difference is that these communities are real.

There’s a place near Milwaukee called The Corners of Brookfield that describes itself as the “Cornerstone of fashion, living and dining,” and I guess it is if you want your view to be the Von Maur parking lot. These manufactured work, live, shop, play communities are polished and they’re pretty, but they have to be more than 21st century Levittowns.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

Outstanding points Georganne. What happens to these sparkly new retail and residential developments when the sparkle diminishes, and 5-10 years have passed since the last renovations? The challenge will be to keep these fresh, new innovative, and interesting. What is in fashion and creative today will not be in vogue 10 or so years down the road. If these communities and stores aren’t refreshed, then we should expect things to go south quickly.

Jasmine Glasheen
Staff

Agreed. Culture hubs like this are popping up all over the San Diego area and many are adjacent to parks, dog parks, or quaint shopping districts. Those that aren’t are often built around one another with a piazza in the center for people to come together.

However, I do see an opportunity for stronger safety initiatives in these areas. In some cases, a mere video camera isn’t enough at night. There’s an opportunity for better lighting, security guards on-call, and potentially even code-for-entry communities. Of course, once Millennials do that, we aren’t talking about much of a difference from the gated communities of our bougie predecessors.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Who you callin’ bougie? Lol!

Bethany Allee
BrainTrust

“Self-contained” communities will play a significant role in retail’s future in urban settings. This big city idea has sprawled to smaller cities and suburbs — and (as long as there is decent parking for outsiders) it works very well. These environments are also an opportunity for retailers to integrate themselves into a community, which is always a stronger way of selling services and goods.

Kevin Graff
BrainTrust

This can be viewed as a return to how society functioned a long, long time ago. Step out your door to find everything you need within a block or two. The talk of malls and shopping areas evolving into true “communities” will, in my humble opinion, continue to grow and gain traction.

With two teenagers at home, one of my continued advice points to them is to live close to where you work. Don’t fall into the trap of commuting (aka that thing that sucks the soul out of your life) . Live your life within your community and love it.

Ron Margulis
BrainTrust

The interesting thing with these types of developments will be the integration of digital shopping and the resulting logistics. Most if not all of the consumables (soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, etc.) don’t really require a physical store. Even a majority of temp-controlled items don’t have to be purchased off a shelf, leaving fresh produce, proteins, dairy and bakery, and a much smaller grocery footprint. Add this to decreasing propensity of the younger generations to cook and the resulting increase in foodservice offerings, and you get a retail layout that is much heavier on delivery channels (boxes or other portals), fresh markets in the style of a farmers market and showrooms or pop-ups than traditional retail.

Ben Ball
BrainTrust

There is no doubt these mixed use developments have great appeal. The issue for retail in these communities is quantity of foot traffic. Unless the retail area attracts outside traffic (and provides easy auto access and adequate parking — all counter-intuitive to the original premise) the retailers are forced to live on resident traffic alone. Even if the numbers are there to start with, consumers eventually tire of the same choices every day and stray to other shopping/dining locations. It’s only personal observation, but retail turnover in these situations seems high.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

Maybe I took the book “1984” too seriously, but this scares me a bit. If I live in a city, in a way, I’m doing this anyway, but if it’s built in a cornfield somewhere all at once and I move there, seems pretty Orwellian to me. Or worse; working for the company store circa the 1930s. I know, old school thinking but, I’d still like all those components to be entirely separate, especially in today’s “surveillance economy.”

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

The hectic, non-stop nature of everyone’s daily lives has led us to this point — who doesn’t want more convenience in their lives? This transcends generational demographics. It’s a return to a more urban setting where everything you need is within short reach, without having to drive an hour to get it. The migration path from cities to suburbs has come full circle and these new live/work environments are a manifestation of that desire. We should expect to see more and more of them — it’s a trend that isn’t going away anytime soon.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
BrainTrust

As long as the “centers” are authentic they will attract people of all ages who desire a sense of community, convenience and a more sustainable lifestyle. That includes retailers who recognize and reflect their environment and local customers.

David Naumann
BrainTrust

Location and convenience are the primary drivers for the appeal of “live, work, shop, play” environments. Mixed-use master planned communities have been developed over the years and most have been designed for the 55+/senior generations. They have proven to be very successful for seniors and now as we add in work elements, mixed-use communities will become a big draw for younger generations.

With busy lifestyles, making life convenient is appealing to most everyone. This looks like a trend that will have a long-term impact on real estate development.

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn
Guest

Another facet of this emerging lifestyle/retail convergence is retail’s re-use of space for health/wellness and medical services. I talk about this in my new book “HealthConsuming” in the fourth chapter. “The New Retail Health.” For example: in suburban Boston, I discuss Dana-Farber Cancer Institute which sited a center at the Atrium Mall in Chestnut Hill, and the Southeastern Regional Medical Center located in space at the Biggs Park Mall in Lumberton, NC. We’re seeing more health@retail as people pay increasing first-dollar out-of-pocket share of healthcare costs.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"“Self-contained” communities will play a significant role in retail’s future in urban settings."
"The interesting thing with these types of developments will be the integration of digital shopping and the resulting logistics."
"I know, old school thinking but, I’d still like all those components to be entirely separate, especially in today’s “surveillance economy.”"

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