We all hear and read stories about how “retail is suffering” and how the Amazons of the world are killing the brick and mortar stores. Banks are shying away from financing strip malls and anything that has the word “retail” is looked at with a wrinkled forehead. As usual and as is true in most areas of life, generalizations don’t work except for the old adagio “location, location, location”. Trends are not the same everywhere and I can confidently say that Miami is a completely different animal. Think about the 2008 crises: Miami bounced back in less than 18 months while other areas took years and years to recover!
When it comes to retail, the habits and culture of the local population make a huge difference. In Miami a great deal of the population is composed of tourists and part time residents from all over the world, and in particular Latin America. These are serious shoppers, prices in their countries are so ridiculously high that they do shopping tourism in Miami. The fact that Aventura mall is the mall with highest sales per square foot in the whole country is good evidence of that. I have never seen in any other mall in the world people walking with suitcases because they buy so much that its easier than carrying bags. Aventura mall keeps expanding and the more it grows the busiest and more successful it seems to be. Zara has the largest store in the US at Aventura Mall.
Sawgrass Mall is another good example of successful retail in the Miami/Broward area. I have yet to meet a Brazilian or Argentinian that leaves Miami without a visit to Sawgrass Mall. They have shuttles picking up buyers from as far as South Beach (smart move!).
American Dream is about to build the largest mall in the country in Miami, a mega entertainment and shopping destination and I bet they did their research.
When it comes to strip malls the picture also looks good. That maybe the reason why a company like RK owns 8,000,000 ft of strip malls and holds on to all of them.
Do people buy stuff online? sure! I do (I can say my Prime membership is duly amortized). But now and ever, the pleasure of going shopping in person with your girlfriend or loved one followed by a cafecito or lunch is irreplaceable and the culture of shopping in Miami is stronger than ever. Madonna would be proud of us…. we are all material girls!