Guest Blog by Liz Pollack, Senior Manager, Marketing at Cross County Shopping Center
It’s December – often retail’s “most wonderful time of the year” – and Holiday 2018 is looking good so far. Retailers and retail properties here in Westchester County benefit from the vibrant spending patterns of the people who live here.
According to ESRI Business Analysts in 2017, the average household spent $13,810 on food and drink, $3,764 on clothing, and $5,273 on entertainment – all terrific benchmarks as we continue a time of generally strong consumer confidence and healthy job creation.
Retail is also doing well because it has made important changes to dovetail with how consumers shop today. Retailers have learned to not just survive, but also thrive in our constantly evolving industry.
At Cross County Shopping Center in Yonkers, consumer spending is up in 2018, due to what we believe to be a combination of new retail concepts (in the last 18 months new stores Hollister, Pandora, Ulta Beauty, Sprint and aerie have opened) and a robust level of in-person social experiences shoppers simply can’t get from a digital device.
Clearly, people enjoy the socialization of shopping and to propel spending we have upped our game significantly in providing more reasons in addition to retail to come to Cross County Shopping Center. There are more dining options than ever with 20 locations to grab a snack or casual sit-down meal. In 2018 a new play area, a Luckey Climber structure, replaced an outdated, traditional playground, and most recently, we opened a pop-up ice skating rink near Santa’s Village to enhance the holiday shopping experience.
The Westchester Mall in White Plains also has evolved with the addition of a newly renovated food court featuring a market feel and retailers such as Apple, Tiffany & Co. and Michael Kors have completed major renovations. At Westchester’s Ridge Hill, also in Yonkers, activations with destination retailer The LEGO Store and new restaurants such as P.F. Chang’s continue to attract consumers from all over the region.
The convenience factor also plays a major role in where and how consumers decide to spend their money and time. Such amenities as free or up-front parking, loyalty programs and online accessibility are important features.
According to a recent study by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), the performance of retailers in the digital world is very much linked to the presence of physical stores. The ICSC’s analysis of more than 350 store openings shows that when a retailer opens just one new location, web traffic increases an average of 37 percent in the quarter following the store’s arrival. A newly opened brick-and-mortar store also boosts the retailer’s share of web traffic within the local market. With the opening of a new location, the retailer’s share of total web traffic in the local market increases on average by 27 percent.
Even Amazon continues to open physical stores – a confidence-booster if ever there was one for the brick and mortar retail world!
Not only has Amazon selected a New York base, just outside Westchester County, for its new headquarters, but the company is also opening a new store concept, 4 Star, which features products selected by and given top ratings by consumers, within the NY metro area.
Overall, I am confident the retail industry within Westchester County will continue to thrive as experience-forward new retail, restaurant and entertainment concepts at top properties keep engaging Westchester residents who have healthy disposable incomes – throughout the holiday season and all year long.
 From February 1 to May 23, 2018, an ICSC survey, conducted by the strategy and research firm Alexander Babbage, tracked retail web traffic and consumer brand awareness among emerging and established brands.