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2019 Brick & Mortar Trends: Physical Space- the Next Frontier

2019 Brick & Mortar Trends: Physical Space- the Next Frontier

We were hearing so much about the retail apocalypse. Hundreds of big box and independent fashion retailer stores were being closed down, but was anyone paying attention to the rise of the new modular retail space and new ways in which malls are now incorporating lifestyle, working, and art and culture?

Example 1: Merging Arts and Culture with Retail

Our first example is the new K11 Musea retail development in Hong Kong. This is a really interesting concept as they are now merging with the actual museum landscape. Imagine, for example, The Louvre or The Getty but now incorporating a retail shoppable experience. This is taking place in Hong Kong in the midst of a $2.6 billion development space that will also be including other forms of residential property and commercial real estate.

What makes this so interesting and exciting? Well, when was the last time you ever thought of a museum as a way to capture new customers? Certainly we always think about museum gift shops, but do we really think about the blending and merging of art and culture as well as offering a curated suite of luxury lifestyle brands to cater to that consumer? It’s super interesting. This is going to be released in 2019 and we can’t wait to see what happens there. It presents endless possibilities for the creative independent fashion retailer owner and enterprise exec alike.

Example 2: Residential Retail

The second great example is how we’ve been seeing the development of co-working spaces. As you may have heard in 2018, we saw WeWork take over the Lord & Taylor flagship building in New York City. That was an amazing real estate venture simply because WeWork has been such a huge mainstay in how today’s urban entrepreneurial culture is looking to bridge their work lifestyle and really the synthesis and combination of the two.

Not only has WeWork recently hired a retail director and a developer of retail, meaning they’re starting to look at their co-working spaces more as retail projects, but we’re also starting to see the synthesis between retail, working and living at WeWork. WeWork recently announced they were also having a co-living space and we’re starting to see a lot of retail developers capitalize on the merging between retail, housing and workspaces. It makes so much sense that retail has evolved this way. It’s like a natural progression from the concept store independent fashion retailer to totally immersing retail into our lives.

Over here in Los Angeles – in Glendale – we’ve seen another great rise of a very interesting retail mall concept called the Americana. Nestled behind a suite of high-end, luxury retail stores, we have a suite of condos looking to bridge that live-work lifestyle. Not only are there retail storefronts but also restaurants. Imagine this, we now have a captured customer who is not just looking to go into a space to shop but is also living there, eating there and possibly working there.

Example 3: Modular Retail Spaces

The last example is Cherry Hill shopping center in New Jersey. Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, as well as incubator 1776, are merging in a really exciting venture to take retail incubators and bring them into these modular retail spaces. We now have real estate companies looking at finding ways of bringing modularity back into how they are doing retail leasing.

Over in Los Angeles, we have brands like platform and the ROW in Downtown LA also enacting something similar: open storefront spaces, being able to come in and shop as a consumer, having the right kinds of real estate surrounded by a mix of not only food options and brick-and-mortar clothing but also accessories and furniture stores. What’s most interesting is that these retail spaces are rotating. These are actual spaces planned to have retail businesses come in and be there for 3 months, 6 months, maybe a year… but the developers and real estate lease holders are actually going into modularity to do product market testing and to give consumers a higher touchpoint marketing experience. It presents a huge opportunity for the independent fashion retailer business in particular. It makes having a physical retail space that much more attainable.

Enterprise Businesses: We need to start rethinking how we’re opening up brick-and-mortar retail stores. Yes, you may have shut down stores in the last three to five years. Yes, you may have been reconsidering a lot of your different brick-and-mortar investments. However, as we start to see the merging between shopping, lifestyle, and work, it’s really important that we now look at new real estate developments as key opportunities to become embedded into the lifestyle of your consumer.

Growth Stage Companies: It’s very important that we start to take a look at how these pop-ups and modular spaces are going to be playing a much bigger role in your direct-to-consumer (DTC) interfacing. This means you might seek to partner up with different developers across the country and start to keep your eye on who is doing what in terms of modular rentals and in terms of modular spacing. This is a really amazing opportunity to really bridge your online to offline and really create a great customer exchange and experience.

Startups: Like the real estate project at Cherry Hill in New Jersey, look at incubators that are partnering up with real estate companies. It’s a great way for you to foray and test-market your product into the industry to see how consumers are going to feel and relate to it. This is going to help you with product positioning, pivoting and really figuring out if you have the right price points, and the right market demographics for where you’re launching. There has probably never been a better time to get into the independent fashion retailer business.

Want to know more about launching retail? Want to know more about getting into brick-and-mortar? Send us an email at We open source globally. We make sure our clients have the right pop-up experiences, that they’re in the right storefronts, and that they have the right products at the right places for effective merchandising for their target markets. Have a great 2019! We’d love to see how these strategies work out for your business.