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We saw neither fear nor loathing in Las Vegas yesterday, and we looked in every casino and line there was for Blue Man Group. Over 30,000 descended on Las Vegas Convention Center for ICSC’s REConBisnow reporters among them.
ICSC Crowd
Here’s only part of the crowd during yesterday’s lunch; we tried counting but ran out of fingers and toes. ICSC prez Michael Kercheva l says the attendees and exhibitors account for every continent except Antarctica (we hear penguins aren’t into dry heat or penny slots), including 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.
Bisnow Stooge JCHI
Michael Kercheval, Bill Taubman
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’s seen optimism not only in the US but in his travels to China, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Brazil, and Canada.
Wesley Clark
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— retail, cell phones, Internet, personal computing, GPS—descended from defense investment. “What happened?” he asks, noting that there hasn’t been much to invest in after the turn of the century. It’s in our nature to seek lower production costs, but the government needs a vision as to what America will produce next. “We’re more about single partisanship than teamwork, and policies are not consistent,” he says. “We have to enunciate goals, move forward. And we need men and women who take risks.” So kudos to whoever risked distracting the General with something off stage right.