Matt Valley, Editor at National Real Estate Investor, spent a few minutes with us summarizing his experience at this year’s ICSC RECon in Las Vegas. Matt, we know it was a busy week so thanks for taking time to provide this great insight about the world’s largest gathering of retail real estate professionals!

Matt Valley & Bob Simons HS: How many years have you attended ICSC's RECon in Las Vegas?

MV: 15 years.

HS:  What do you get out of attending the convention?

MV: There is a lot of energy on the show floor, and it’s an ideal time for me to develop new sources and reacquaint with old sources. My interviews with top executives help me get a good handle on trends developing in the marketplace and cut through the noise.

HS:  What's your most memorable moment or event from your trips to ICSC?

MV:  What stands out for me is not one show or interview, but rather how the industry continues to evolve as consumer tastes and preferences change. In that sense, retail is a living organism. Even in good economic times, retailers can go bankrupt due to a misread of the marketplace or overexpansion. I’m also struck by how smart and creative the leaders of the shopping center industry are collectively. When you know how much risk developers take on to complete a project, you develop a new appreciation for what they do. Today we’re seeing a lot of creativity on the redevelopment front as aging centers try to reinvent themselves. That same energy and creativity also is reflected in the elaborate booths the exhibitors build for the show. I guess if I had to sum it up, the ICSC convention is always an event, a spectacle. It is the Super Bowl of the shopping center industry.

HS:  How was the mood at ICSC this year? Is a retail rebound ahead?

MV:  The tone of ICSC is usually upbeat, and this year was no exception given that the U.S economy is beginning to generate jobs, albeit at a modest pace. Underneath that eternal optimism, however, are deeper concerns about the consumer. Food and energy prices have risen sharply this year, wages are stagnant and the U.S. single-family housing market in many parts of the country is still reeling with no immediate turnaround in sight. That helps explain why the retail discounters are doing so well these days. It’s the age of austerity in the American household.