Leading the pack, though, was German grocer Lidl, which opened almost 50 stores across the U.S. in the latter half of 2017.
Overall, the top destination for global brands in the U.S. last year was New York, followed by Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco and San Diego. Prime shopping hubs like SoHo in Manhattan and Union Square in San Francisco continue to be a draw for young companies looking to break into new territories.
“If you can make it [in New York], you can make it anywhere,” Levy said.
To be sure, not every retailer that comes to the U.S. is successful. Even Lidl had to slow its growth plan after a rapid start. In 2017, three international brands shuttered all of their stores in America: Comptoir des Cotonniers, Kit & Ace and Bebe.
“Consumers are not cookie cutter,” Levy added. “One’s success or failure has to do with understanding the dynamics of the local consumer. … Consumer preferences need to be taken into consideration when going across boarders.”
Perhaps least threatened by any online competition (mainly e-commerce Amazon) is the coffee and restaurant category, which accounted for 25 percent of retailers’ international growth last year, up from 18 percent in 2016, CBRE found.
According to the real estate firm, as “traditional drivers” for new retail space dissipate, food is filling the gaps, alongside other entertainment venues. And industry experts say they anticipate this trend will continue for years to come.
“Landlords have historically had restrictive covenants, which said you could [only] have certain types of users in your facilities. Now people want uses … like bowling alleys … and the legal restrictions are loosening,” Levy said.
That means the mix of businesses at malls and shopping centers will increasingly drift away from apparel chains and fast-food joints, and instead will include a little bit of everything, even medical offices and living spaces.
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