DC <b>Retail</b> Is All About Hanging Out | RetailTechPodcast

DC Retail Is All About Hanging Out

Retail isn't dead, but changes to major city centers like D.C.'s Chinatown reflect how businesses are shifting their focus towards becoming places where people can hang out, rather than get in and out quickly. The changes to the 8,698-square-foot store at Oxford Property Group's building reflect a larger shift coming to the highly trafficked Chinatown neighborhood of Downtown D.C., and to retail more broadly, that favors customer experience over efficiency. Chad Shuskey, the senior vice president of research and real estate at the Washington DC Economic Partnership, a non-profit public-private organization, likens physical retail locations in places like Chinatown to "Having a big billboard in a great location"-it brings eyes and, hopefully, feet to the store. "The Washington, D.C. market has been a growing hub for Comcast and other retailers for several years," said Tom DeVito, the senior vice president of retail sales and service at Comcast Cable. "The Chinatown neighborhood offers an excellent mix of residential, retail and event-driven foot traffic." Enticing people to provide that information often requires giving something in return, like, say, free Wi-Fi. David Dochter, a principal at Dochter & Alexander Retail Advisors, said that retailers are now looking to build a "Completely different mousetrap: you want people to explore and stay. You want a certain excitement to be there. You want to stimulate them. Traditional retail was more about efficiency, to get a product or a commodity into your hands." Apple's retail stores, which the company call "Town squares," continue to be among the most profitable retailer when it comes to sales per square foot. Read more