How Retail Construction Trends are Changing

One sign that the economy is slowly ticking up is the growth commercial construction projects in the retail business sector.

At Leon Williams Contractors, we work closely with commercial developers in the Maryville and Knoxville area, so we like to keep an eye on the trends for retail construction.

Just a few years ago, the big trend was to build huge open-air lifestyle shopping centers, that included stores, restaurants, and green spaces with park benches, picnic tables, and fountains, all connected by sidewalks.

Those trends can be found in nearly every community in East Tennessee. It seemed that traditional shopping malls and department stores would soon fall by the wayside, especially as they were impacted by the recession.

However, many of those retailers are doing better, and new ones are popping up and expanding every day. They’re taking more control over what they want, and it’s making commercial developers rethink how they build shopping spaces.

For instance, new department stores want to be rid of the old fluorescent lighting that they relied on to illuminate their merchandise. More department stores are including large windows to let in natural light so people can see how the clothing looks any time of day. You may even find balconies or cafes in some multilevel department stores.

The layout of department stores is also changing. More stores are turning into lifestyle centers in and of themselves, and may put a focus on being able to host social and entertainment events. You’ll probably find pop-up “soft shops,” or stores within stores, in some department stores as well. An example is a cell phone or electronics boutique hiding among the other departments in some newer stores.

To compete with the open-air lifestyle centers, many traditional shopping malls are undergoing makeovers. Big fast-fashion retailers have moved into these malls, commanding as much as 40,000 square feet of space. More classic retailers are often interested in moving into larger spaces themselves, or into a newly renovated mall where the crowds are flocking. Many stores want networking abilities so associates can carry iPads to help customers find items or check out, offering a level of service you just don’t get when you order online.

The bottom line is, retail is making a comeback, especially as brick-and-mortar retailers start making adjustments to stay relevant in the age of online shopping. It will be interesting to see how these trends continue to change and develop. We at Leon Williams Contracters sure will be watching.

Leon Williams Contractors has spent many years building its reputation in the East Tennessee area as a qualified and reputable commercial contractor. We welcome your comments and feedback about our blog topics.


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