We saw neither fear nor loathing in Las Vegas yesterday, and we looked in every casino and line for Blue Man Group there was.ICSC's RECon was in full swing, with over 30,000 attendees descending on the Las Vegas Convention Center to wheel, deal, and discover the hot trends. The five Bisnow staffers on the ground there even ran out of fingers and toes trying to count the lunch crowd, above. ICSC prez Michael Kercheval says the attendees and exhibitors account for every continent except Antarctica (penny slots just aren't enough to draw the penguins into the desert). This includes three dozen firms from Japan and 100 new retailers. After contractions and closures, stores are expanding again, he points out. We're not at peak but back to ?03 levels.
Economic indicators are headed in the right direction, says Taubman Centers COO Bill Taubman (left, with Michael, who thanked him for his '10-?11 ICSC chairman tenure). The retail centers deserve a lot a credit, Bill says: Rather than throwing their hands in the air, they responded with new fashions, products, and pricing, as well as listening even more to customers. ?We ultimately parted the clouds,? he says. However, unemployment is still high, banks are still not lending freely for retail, and consumers aren't spending as much money. But hope springs eternal for Bill, who has seen optimism not only in the US but in his travels to China, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Brazil, and Canada.
Keynoting the lunch was former NATO Supreme Allied Commander US Gen. Wesley Clark, who says we can fix the economy but there's no simple solution. However, a lot of the growth will be sparked and led by entrepreneurs. Much of what defines today—