Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

Another Trip Around the World…Las Vegas

Earlier this week, I was in Las Vegas for the 2022 ICSC conference. I’ve heard this referred to as the ”Super Bowl” of retail. It’s certainly the premiere retail conference for the U.S. and maybe beyond. The conference was on quarantine for a couple of years, so it was really nice to see colleagues again. While we can all take Zoom calls and use the other electronic communication marvels available, they don’t compare to a face-to-face visit with longtime friends. Nothing can fully replace a good handshake, smile, kind greeting and a good conversation.

It seemed like participation was at about 60% of the usual this year, and the event space was probably reduced by about the same percentage. It was still a good show with positive things happening:

  • E-commerce and bricks and mortar are learning to play nice. Last year, openings of physical retail locations outpaced closings for the first time in 3 years. Most see e-commerce as a receding threat to physical stores. It’s still a force, but nothing will ever replace that in-person shopping experience because most of us enjoy the social and recreational part. (I remember when electronic books first showed up and everyone said it was the demise of the bookstore. Things changed to a certain extent, but there are still a lot of good bookstores out there.)
  • New restaurant offerings are plentiful. There seems to be a trend toward fast casual, drive-through experiential food uses and more ethnic concepts.
  • Major challenges still exist regarding supply chain and personnel, but as Herbert Stein once was quoted, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.”


Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.