Make us your home page

Business leaders to gather as Florida's retail industry sizzles

Dale Scott is an ambassador with the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Dale Scott is an ambassador with the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Dale Scott can't keep up with the demand for new retail development — from new grocery stores to mixed-use condos and storefronts — spreading across Florida right now.

Scott, an ambassador with the International Council of Shopping Centers and a director with Hawkins Construction, is happy to be busy after development suffered during and after the Great Recession. Scott says that this new momentum will be the theme of ICSC's Florida conference this year, which was set to kick off at the Orlando Convention Center on Sunday.

"Everything is heating up right now," Scott said. "We went through so many years where people were talking about projects that just never happened. Finally, these deals are starting to roll in again."

More than 4,000 retail industry professionals — including contractors, real estate developers and brand executives — flock there every year to ink deals and discuss future projects for Florida.

The summer conference is usually a good barometer for the local economy overall, Scott said. It's where builders and developers determine how hungry consumers are for new brands, new stores and new shopping centers.

Last week, Scott answered a few questions about the state's retail landscape.

Where are the biggest areas of growth for retail in Florida?

Grocery stores continue to be the main player in Florida and always will be. The number of new people moving into the state every year is incredible, and that creates a demand for new grocery stores to be built every year.

Publix is always going to be a major player in grocery stores in Florida. They've spent the last few years remodeling a number of stores and repositioning others. With some of the older stores, they're tearing them down and building new ones. In some parts of Tampa Bay and South Florida, there is so little land available to build brand-new stores. So a lot of retailers are having to upgrade existing stores before they find room to build new.

But there are a lot of new players coming in. Aldi and Trader Joe's have been here for a little while and made strong entrances. Then there are Sprouts, Earth Fare and Lucky Supermarket that are looking to enter Florida. Plus Whole Foods Market and the Fresh Market that continue to expand. None of these beat Walmart though, which seems to be on a feeding frenzy in Florida with its neighborhood market concept.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing the retail industry in Florida right now?

A major factor affecting retail growth in Florida is a dwindling number of skilled workers in the construction industry. There are so many major projects on the books right now, but if we don't find the laborers we need to build them, this is going to become an industrywide problem. This is an issue contractors in Florida are facing on a day-to-day basis. In the short term, there's no real answer right now. But if it's not fixed, projects will be strung out over longer terms as workers who are not skilled will be learning the trade while on the job.

Which metro area is leading the state in new retail development?

South Florida, especially Miami, is clearly leading the state in development. Miami is hard to describe to anyone right now. There are so many major projects out there. There are millions of square feet of retail coming in mostly in the form of mixed-use centers. Tampa Bay is busy, too, with several projects. And they're serious, these aren't pipe dreams anymore. Permits are in place, and they're moving forward.

Tell me more about the ICSC Florida conference. Why is this conference so important?

The conference is expected to be high energy this year because there is so much planning going on. There will be well over 4,000 people at this conference. It's one of the larger real estate conferences in the country. Anyone doing retail work of any capacity in Florida will be at this conference.

Business leaders to gather as Florida's retail industry sizzles 08/30/15 [Last modified: Sunday, August 30, 2015 9:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Black entrepreneur says city stiffing him on project after he endorsed Rick Baker


    ST. PETERSBURG — A prominent African-American resident says his endorsement of mayoral candidate Rick Baker has led city officials to freeze him out of a major construction project along the historic "Deuces" stretch of 22nd Street S.

  2. Sen. Nelson urges FEMA to examine high number of denied flood claims


    Sen. Bill Nelson urged FEMA on Tuesday to ensure fairness, proper oversight and transparency in processing Hurricane Irma aid following a report by the Palm Beach Post that 90 percent of Irma claims under the National Flood Insurance Program had been denied.

    Sen. Bill Nelson is calling for FEMA to ensure the flood claims process post-Hurricane Irma is fair and ethical following reports that 90 percent of claims under the National Flood Insurance Program were denied. | [Times file photo]
  3. Amazon expands in Tampa with Pop-Up shop in International Plaza


    TAMPA — A new retailer known largely for its online presence has popped up at International Plaza and Bay Street.

    Shoppers walk past the new Amazon kiosk Tuesday at the International Plaza in Tampa. The kiosk, which opened last month, offers shoppers an opportunity to touch and play with some of the products that Amazon offers.
[CHRIS URSO   |   Times]

  4. Study: Florida has fourth-most competitive tax code


    Florida's tax code is the fourth most competitive in the country, according to a study released Tuesday by nonprofit group Tax Foundation.

    Florida has the fourth-most competitive tax code, a study by the Tax Foundation said. Pictured is  Riley Holmes, III, H&R Block tax specialist, helping a client with their tax return in April. | [SCOTT KEELER, Times]
  5. Trigaux: On new Forbes 400 list of U.S. billionaires, 35 now call Florida their home

    Personal Finance

    The latest Forbes 400 richest people in America was unveiled Tuesday, with 35 billionaires on that list calling Florida home. That's actually down from 40 Florida billionaires listed last year when a full 10 percent listed declared they were Floridians by residence.

    Edward DeBartolo, Jr., shopping center developer and  former San Francisco 49ers Owner, posed with his bronze bust last year during the NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony in Canton, Ohio. DeBartolo remains the wealthiest person in Tampa Bay according to the Forbes 400 list released Tuesday. 
[Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images]