Earlier this year, and in light of the extraordinary circumstances that 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic ushered in, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) announced that they were cancelling their raft of deal-making conferences and rolling them into one mega virtual conference, RECon New York.

RECon is the world’s largest global gathering of retail real estate professionals, and is attended by owners, brokers, developers, and retailers.

Fast forward a few months, and RECon New York is almost upon us. Yes, next week (December 9-10) is the virtual iteration of the biggest retail event of the year, including the annual general meeting of ICSC members, and approval of new board trustees, and incoming chair and vice chair.

“The pandemic has required us to develop creative and innovative ways to serve our members in absence of live meetings,” said Carlos Baudett, Director, Trade Expositions, ICSC.  “RECon New York provides limitless opportunities for our members to reach their target audiences, maintain existing relationships and build new ones in a convenient interactive environment.  We are thrilled to close out 2020 by giving our members the chance to connect and make deals all under one virtual roof.

Relevant like Never Before

No doubt, RECon 2020 will be very different from the 2019 event which was attended by some 37,000 industry professionals in the humungous Las Vegas Convention Center, but it is no less significant for our industry.

In fact, given the grappling we are all doing with the future of this sector, it may be more important than ever. The agenda is available on the ICSC website, and the sessions include insight into consumer sentiment, how the economy is evolving, strategy for crisis times, and a webinar on how Covid-19 is reshaping cities and suburbs – all critical concerns for those of us in this space.

It’s not just “worst case scenario” though. The event traditionally equips attendees on trends and best practice, and we see that high on the agenda too, including how data can be used to pivot businesses. Big brands on the speakers list include representatives from ICSC (naturally), Nordstrom, Walmart, Blackstone, The Container Store, CBRE, Kroger, Raider Hill, MGM Resorts, McKinsey, and Realtor.com.

And, don’t fret, deal-making time is earmarked, four hours on each of the days, and attendees can pre-make appointments or do so on an ad hoc basis.

“I’m looking forward to this. Virtual or not, it has always been a highlight on the calendar, and an event where business is done,” says Bill Dickinson, Executive Director of Brokerage

Research and insight

Real estate investment trust Phillips Edison & Company are also releasing an industry insights report as part of the RECon offering. This report comes from their accounts and emerging trends team who crunched the numbers on growing and emerging retailers, and extracted a series of themes that they say will stay with us as we head into 2021, including ghost kitchens, delivery by drone, 5G within retail, discount growth, and the “rise of the ‘Groceraunt’”.

“These themes track with what we have been seeing in our region,” says Henry Fonvielle, President. “At Rappaport our clients trust us to stay on top of the trends and to advise them accordingly, and it is always useful and interesting to compare your own experiences to what others in the industry are paying attention to.”

Virtual, Tried and Tested

In October the Canada edition of RECon hosted 1,500 attendees and 50+ exhibitors, who –ICSC tells us – collectively exchanged some 1,200 networking messages and held over 400 meetings.


So the virtual platform is clearly tried and tested, with the organization and its members expressing high hopes for an even bigger and better US edition.

“Retail clients and tenants have been grappling with the shift to virtual all year, and now it is our turn as retail real estate professionals,” says Bill Dickinson

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