Commercial Real Estate Outlook: Optimism Amidst Uncertainty

ICSC Las Vegas returned this spring—with a new format and brand—after a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Attendees and exhibitors rebounded, with higher than anticipated crowds; reported attendance was over 22,000.

Optimism was abuzz, and the pure excitement of being back to in-person events. However, uncertainty still lingered on the minds of many due to ongoing pandemic effects and economic and social unrest. We caught up with a few Stirling Properties team members who made the show to get insight into what’s happening in the retail industry.

Sky-rocketing construction costs vs. rents: One of the most significant issues we’re facing is the cost of deals for the landlord vs. what retailers are willing to pay for the space. “Retailers are expanding, but high labor and material costs remain challenging. Retailers are unwilling to pay more rent than they have historically; however, their box costs 50%+ more to build,” said Darryl Bonner, Senior Advisor. Right now, in many cases, rents don’t justify the cost of construction to make deals work. The imbalance is causing frustration on both sides and a pause in dealmaking. Still, many industry professionals believe this will work itself out with further correction of supply chain issues and compromises in building requirements/needs from retailers. 

Inflation: The increased cost of goods and services undoubtedly affects how and what consumers buy. But so far, overall retail sales have not slowed much, coming off record sales numbers in 2021. As the pandemic began to wane and government subsidies trickled in, we saw a massive sales spike—what some call ‘revenge spending.’ But will this continue long term, with gas and grocery prices steadily ticking up?

People are still spending; they’re just spending differently. According to Rhonda Sharkawy, Senior Retail Leasing & Development Advisor, “There was so much movement around the pandemic; I think we are still seeing the settling effect. I believe sales reports will soften within the next year, and we will see where and how consumers are spending,” said Sharkawy.

Most retail brands remain optimistic. Even though their profits are eroded because of increased costs, they remain bullish on top-line revenue growth. Many believe this is a short-term economic issue that should not incite knee-jerk reactions. Chris Abadie, VP and Manager of Commercial Brokerage, noted, “Despite concerns about inflation and rising interest rates, risk tolerance seems higher than before.” 

Retail shifts: Consumer demands have evolved over the last couple of years. But one thing holds—consumers want it all, and they want it now. As a result, convenience, speed, and multiple buy-and-collect options are paramount to the success of today’s retailers.

“The overall sentiment is that retailers are confident; they are stronger than ever, and they are investing in brick-and-mortar stores. Although consumers want options, they still want a physical store where they can see and touch the product and enjoy social interaction. Online sales are surging, but for many retailers, ecommerce is serving as another touch point or means for increasing store sales,” said Sharkawy. Moving forward, retailers will continue to invest in the shopping experience. We expect more experimentation with store layouts, formats, and product inventory.

The function of the retail center itself is also shifting. Bonner noted, “Most retail deals are now a mix of uses, with retail usually the second or third tier. Multifamily has become the new retail anchor, with medical not far behind.” In addition, we’re seeing more nontraditional tenants and service concepts filling shopping centers.

Technology: “Technology is finally having its moment in our industry,” said Abadie. For years, retailers have been pumping money into technology, targeting their customers and their specific wants and needs. Now, the commercial real estate industry can too.

From a retail/asset management perspective, technology integration helps with staffing, inventory, purchasing, and fulfillment. It is also emerging in building systems, using big data to help with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) efforts, and lowering the carbon footprint of commercial real estate.

Promising tech companies such as Placer.ai, Crexi, and Buildout are becoming industry standards. As CRE practitioners, new technology is helping us analyze the health of retailers and shopping centers. It’s also assisting us to better understand a store’s value through foot traffic vs. online sales vs. physical sales and how people are utilizing the store. However, the real game-changer is emerging tech that can use data and algorithms to identify new locations and market gaps and even project retail sales for future retailers. Emerging technologies will continue to develop and have drastic impacts on our industry moving forward.

Numerous headwinds affect consumer sentiment and spending, but it’s still a glass-half-full outlook. Those retailers that were successful and survived COVID are bullish on the future. The overall attitude coming out of ICSC Las Vegas this year was our industry has faced insurmountable challenges, and we are now better prepared to handle more adversity—so, how do we move forward? We’re all looking forward to continued momentum and more face-to-face interactions.

June 10, 2022|Blog|

Real estate scholarship fund established for Tulane University graduate students in New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana

Stirling Properties announces the Maurin Ogden Tulane Real Estate Fund, a new academic scholarship opportunity for Tulane University graduate students pursuing a real estate or related degree.

In partnership with Tulane University and ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers) Foundation, the Maurin Ogden Tulane Real Estate Fund focuses on academic and professional development for graduate students enrolled in the A.B. Freeman School of Business and School of Architecture. Underwritten by Jimmy Maurin and Roger Ogden, founders of Stirling Properties, the new fund will distribute $10,000 a year for academic awards over the next ten years.

As part of the fund, one (1) $5,000 scholarship will be awarded each year for qualified tuition and related expenses. The scholarship recipient will also receive ICSC Student Membership and participation in the ICSC Mentorship Program specifically designed for emerging real estate professionals who are seeking to develop their careers and build relationships in the commercial real estate industry.

In addition, five (5) Conference Awards will be given annually for students, providing all-expense-paid attendance to ICSC RECon in Las Vegas, the world’s largest retail real estate convention, offering the students valuable exposure to industry leaders and potential employers.

Working with the ICSC Foundation, Stirling Properties has been actively involved in leading efforts to help create and maintain a pipeline of diverse and robust talent for the future of the commercial real estate industry. The company established a similar scholarship program at LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where it has been instrumental in introducing students to academic and career placement opportunities over the past several years.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for us to invest in the future of our industry, while also supporting our local communities,” said Maurin. “We are thankful for ICSC’s partnership in helping us to expand this program to Tulane University students and build awareness for real estate among young people entering the job market. Our goal is to attract and develop the best and brightest talent pool for the commercial real estate industry—the next generation of leaders in our businesses.”

“Thank you to Stirling Properties’ founders, Jimmy Maurin and Roger Ogden, for their generosity and continued commitment to educational and professional development. The Maurin Ogden Tulane Real Estate Fund will create meaningful opportunities for students to connect with industry professionals, access valuable educational resources, and participate in experiential learning. As a recent graduate of the Tulane MBA program, I know how impactful this scholarship and partnership will be, and I am proud to now help with these efforts,” said John Woodard, Development Manager with Stirling Properties.

The Maurin Ogden Tulane Real Estate Fund is expected to be awarded this fall and will be established and administered by Tulane University according to its policies and procedures for non-endowed funds.

President’s Message: Your urgent help is needed

We are all experiencing the unprecedented ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the safety and well-being of our people are our highest concerns, many are also struggling with their businesses and livelihoods.

We are just at the beginning stages of difficult times for the retail real estate industry, especially for many of our retailers. Countless restaurants and stores have been forced to close, and others have voluntarily closed, or sales have been greatly diminished. It’s important to note that 1 out of 4 U.S. jobs is related to retail—this will affect you, your friends and family.

We need your help. Congress is currently debating relief efforts for businesses and individuals affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Please contact your elected officials and urge them to provide federal assistance.

ICSC has made it very simple to contact your Congress members and legislators through an easy to use portal – HERE—or copy this url and paste in your web browser: https://p2a.co/65LiaWv. It’s essential to act quickly.

If you have not had a chance to reach out, please take a minute to do so. This legislation is crucial to the retail real estate industry and our companies. The long-term strength of the shopping center industry is critical to the economic, civic and social viability of communities across the country.

Please feel free to share this message with friends, family and like-minded colleagues, and on your social media channels.

ICSC is reporting that our efforts are working…Congress hears us! We need to keep the momentum going. Every voice counts in helping retailers and small businesses get through this crisis.

Thank you,

Marty Mayer Signature



Marty Mayer

March 20, 2020|Blog, President's Message, Retail|

“The Halo Effect” shines light on significance of physical stores

Retail and Web

Brick-and-mortar stores have a bright future in the retail industry, and now we have data to prove it. We’ve heard the widely drawn-out debate of clicks vs. bricks—or the speculations that e-commerce will cause the demise of physical stores. However, according to a recent report by ICSC, “The Halo Effect: How Bricks Impact Clicks,” brick-and-mortar stores are essential to the success of retailers.

The “halo effect” is defined as the tendency for an impression created in one area to influence another. ICSC’s study, the largest of its kind, explores and quantifies how physical store locations impact a brand’s digital presence. Here are a few of its key findings:

  • Opening one new physical store in a market results in an average 37% increase in overall traffic to that retailer’s website and increases its share of web traffic within that market by an average of 27%.
  • The opposite is also true as web traffic tends to fall when stores close. In one case, the share of web traffic across the markets where a store closed declined up to 77%.
  • For emerging brands, defined as those less than 10 years old, new store openings drive an average 45% increase in web traffic following a store opening. For comparison, established retailers experience an average 36% boost in web traffic.

These findings confirm the direct correlation between a retailers’ physical and digital presence. When retailers invest in brick-and-mortar stores, their online presence thrives. The opposite is also true: closing stores causes a drop in the share of web traffic.

Furthermore, the study shows that not only do physical retail locations drive digital engagement, but also positively impact brand perception and help to attract new customers. Markets where retailers have a physical presence perform better on brand health metrics (including awareness, consumer perceptions, and willingness to recommend) compared with national benchmarks.

Today’s digitally empowered, high-maintenance consumer expects convenience and choices in how, when, and where they shop. They want an assortment of options to make purchases—aka omnichannel buying. However, physical stores remain the dominant method for building, growing, and sustaining brands.

Physical stores allow shoppers the ability to see, feel, taste, and truly experience a brand or product that they’re buying. Engagement and social connection in a physical store also play a vital role in the satisfaction level of the consumer and overall experience. Most importantly, physical stores allow retailers the unrivaled opportunity to interact with consumers and gain in-depth data and insight far beyond what online shopping could ever allow.

In the retail game, successful stores are marrying e-commerce and physical components, giving consumers purchasing options like click-and-collect, click-and-ship, and showroom models, enhancing the brick-and-mortar shopping experience and boosting sales at physical stores.

So much so that many once pure-play online retailers are moving into brick-and-mortar stores. E-commerce retailers plan to open 850 physical stores across the U.S. in the next five years. Many online brands have already started a push for physical stores, including Warby Parker, Rent The Runway, Glossier, Adore Me, Allbirds, even giants like Amazon and Wayfair are realizing the importance of a brick-and-mortar retail strategy. Both new and established brands are investing in stores and transforming clicks into bricks.

Brick-and-mortar stores should be a part of any retail strategy because they drive web traffic, improve brand health, and encourage in-store shopping. Still, retailers must continue to evolve to be successful and stay relevant in today’s fast-paced landscape. Retailers that provide more in their stores than the opportunity to make purchases will likely flourish—from the home improvement store that offers DIY workshops to the athletic store that offers simulated sporting games.

So, physical stores do matter—and the findings of this report confirm that. As e-commerce sales continue to grow year over year, those retailers that adapt and create a true multi-channel experience, leveraging both the assets of physical and digital, will come out on top.

Thank you to ICSC for compiling this insightful report. Hardcore data can’t be disputed. The retail apocalypse is over; let’s move on to the Renaissance!

To read the entire report, click here.

December 17, 2018|Blog, Retail|

Stirling Properties helping to build Next Generation of commercial real estate professionals

In partnership with ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers) Foundation, Stirling Properties’ team members have been actively involved in leading efforts to help create and maintain a pipeline of strong and diverse talent for the future of the commercial real estate industry. Two main areas of focus are centered on professional and academic development.

Next Generation is ICSC’s educational, networking, and mentoring program specifically designed for emerging retail real estate professionals who are seeking to develop and advance their careers and build relationships in the commercial real estate industry.

ICSC Next Generation

Carly Plotkin and Townsend Underhill

Townsend Underhill, Stirling Properties’ President of Development, is serving as the Southern Division Chairman for Next Generation—he is also Past Louisiana State Director for ICSC. Recently, his volunteer committee hosted the very first fundraising event for the Next Generation Fund of the ICSC Foundation during the ICSC Next Generation Conference in Toronto. More than $7,000 was raised to help support a professional education scholarship fund designed for up-and-coming professionals who are interested in progressing their skills in retail real estate.

Carly Plotkin, Sales & Leasing Executive with Stirling Properties, was awarded one of the first two scholarships from the Next Generation fund! Plotkin is also currently serving as the ICSC Next Generation State Chair for Louisiana and on the national Board for ICSC Next Generation.

“Stirling Properties is extremely proud of our work on this front. We are equally proud that one of our very own agents was awarded a professional development scholarship. No one is more deserving of this honor than Carly,” said Underhill. “Assisting new professionals in our industry to succeed—and even excel—in their careers is crucial for the future of our business. So we must be proactive in ensuring that we are not only attracting and retaining the brightest talent base available, but also equipping them with the tools they need to be prosperous.”

ICSC also supports numerous student academic programs, such as annual student membership opportunities, conference attendance, scholarships and experiential opportunities, as well as mentoring and job assistance.

Stirling Properties’ Vice President of Finance, Justin Landry, serves on the ICSC Foundation Talent & Education Committee, which focuses on identifying, attracting, and developing young people with interest in the retail real estate industry. The committee’s primary goal is to increase student engagement in ICSC, and focus on job placement within the industry.

Landry was selected to serve on the ICSC committee due to his background working with college-level students at LSU (Louisiana State University). He works as an instructor for the university teaching Finance 7720 (Commercial Real Estate Investing).

ICSC Recon 2017

Jimmy Maurin, Justin Landry and ICSC Maurin-Ogden Foundation LSU Scholarship Award Recipients

Over the past few years, Landry has been instrumental in introducing LSU students to academic scholarships and career placement opportunities, such as the ICSC Maurin-Ogden Foundation LSU Scholarship Award, funded by Jimmy Maurin and Roger Ogden, founders of Stirling Properties. Through the scholarship, students receive all-expense-paid attendance to ICSC RECon in Las Vegas, the world’s largest retail real estate convention. Each year, Stirling Properties hosts LSU Award Recipients at the conference, offering the students valuable exposure to industry leaders and potential employers.

Now, working with the ICSC Foundation Talent & Education Committee, future academic engagement strategies include developing and increasing student-focused events at major ICSC conferences; building relationships with universities and establishing/enhancing Real Estate Clubs; identifying and expanding educational opportunities such as internships and case competitions; and career placement programs such as career fairs and targeted recruitment sessions.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for us to invest in the future of our industry, while also supporting local communities,” said Landry. “ICSC has been on the front lines leading this charge, and Stirling Properties is proud to be able to partner with them to advance their efforts. Collectively, we are developing strategies that will lead to job creation for students, economic growth for local communities, and talent retention within our industry. These are the next generation of executives and brokers that are going to lead our companies—it’s critical that we make them a priority.”



August 9, 2018|Blog, Involvement|

Ryan Juneau Earns Certified Retail Property Executive (CRX) Credential

Ryan Juneau CRX

Stirling Properties’ Asset Manager, Ryan Juneau, has earned the ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers) Certified Retail Property Executive (CRX) credential.

With designees in 50 countries, ICSC’s certification programs raise the industry’s professional standards globally, and distinguish retail real estate professionals who demonstrate the highest levels of competency in their specialty as proven through solid professional education, experience, ethics, and the passing of a rigorous examination.

ICSC grants CRX certification in recognition of mastering retailing and retail property knowledge related to the performance, profitability, and executive leadership of industry organizations. Only a select group of senior executive leaders are awarded CRX designations each year.

Juneau is a member of Stirling Properties’ Asset & Property Management Division where he is responsible for ancillary development and construction, property operations, leasing, financing, financial reporting, and investor relations for internally owned, joint venture, and third-party managed assets. His portfolio includes both newly opened and mature shopping centers and office buildings in Lafayette, Baton Rouge, and Slidell, Louisiana, as well as overseeing management of the PMAT Companies’ portfolio of shopping centers across the southeast and mid-west.

“Congratulations to Ryan for earning the CRX certification. He has a proven record of experience, success, and knowledge—and now joins an elite group of executive professionals in the retail real estate industry,” said Marty Mayer, President & CEO with Stirling Properties. “Stirling Properties is proud to have him as part of our Asset & Property Management team.”

Juneau holds a degree in Finance/Real Estate and graduated from the Executive MBA Program at Louisiana State University. He also achieved the designation of ICSC’s Certified Development, Design, and Construction Professional (CDP). He is active in the Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce and serves on the Board of Directors for GaitWay Therapeutic Horsemanship.

Ryan Juneau can be reached at rjuneau@stirlingprop.com or (225) 329-0263.

November 22, 2017|Baton Rouge Metro, Blog, Corporate, Designations|
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