July 2, 2020 | Jessica Caron
July 1, 2020 | By Steve Collins, The Palomar Group
Here is the second installment of What We Learned while in the RV on the Freedom Tour.
We did not know what to expect in terms of activity we would see at shopping centers. Each state has handled COVID different and each state has their own restrictions in place. Seeing what was happening at the various shopping centers we stopped at was one of the things that we were most eager to see, but we were not sure if we were going to like what we saw.
However, we saw a country that wants to get back to normal life and is starting to do so. We were pleasantly surprised that the shopping centers we stopped at were full. People were still taking safety precautions, but they were out shopping. Some stores were still closed or operating at reduced capacity. This was mostly gyms, movie theaters, and some restaurants, but the vast majority of stores were open and people were in them. Most restaurants were open and had adapted their operations. They are making an effort, which was good to see.
Parking lots were full. This was across the board. From North Carolina, to Virginia, to Pennsylvania, to Ohio, to Kentucky, to Tennessee, and back to Georgia.
Operations have changed. Hopefully, the retailers and restaurants who have successfully adapted to the current conditions will come out the other end stronger than they were before. Some of the tools being used now will help the industry evolve and better serve customers going forward.
As someone who works in retail real estate this was encouraging to see. Maybe retail isn’t dead. Maybe we will get back to “normal” one day. Maybe this industry is more resilient than a lot of people give it credit.
Since I have about 20 more years in this industry I hope this is the case.
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