Attendance at RECon, which will launch on May 19 in Las Vegas, is expected to be the highest it has been since before the recession, at 33,000. Also, some 1,000 companies will be exhibiting at the conference.
The retail sector drove job growth in April, according to statistics from the government and ICSC. Retail jobs in shopping centers rose by 33,000, accounting for one-fifth of the 165,000 jobs added in April, ICSC said. Restaurants and bars hired an additional 38,000 people.
Competition may lead lenders to invest outside of major U.S. markets, opening up opportunities for secondary and tertiary cities, according to a panelist of financial professionals at RECon 2011. A stabilizing market means that capital markets will expand over the next decade, said William Markey, a director at MetLife. But the panelists maintained that without "heir apparent" retailers to replace the stores that shuttered during the recession, challenges will remain for retail real-estate financing.
RECon, ICSC's annual convention in Las Vegas, will serve as an important networking event for job seekers this year, in addition to providing deal-making opportunities. About 20,000 people have registered for the event.
This year's winners of the ICSC Hot Retailer Awards include Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Pinkberry, Pollo Campero, Apricot Lane, Stir Crazy, Billabong, Tesco's Fresh & Easy concept, L.L.Bean and Ridemakerz. The awards, which honor innovative retailers, will be presented at ICSC's annual retail real estate conference, RECon, in Las Vegas. "The winners this year represent a fabulous cross section of interesting retailers," ICSC President and CEO Michael P. Kercheval said. "Tenants like these make shopping centers fun and entertaining places to be."