Release Date: Jun 21, 2017

Perspectives on Future Retail


Perspectives on Future Retail

Angela Fox Weighs in with 27 Other Industry Experts

Crystal City (Arlington, VA) – Inundated with continuous negative media coverage of the current state of retail drove editors at Bisnow to dig further for a regional reality check. Sunday's response, "Is Retail Really 'F*cked'? 28 Global CRE Leaders Speak Out" included a small excerpt from Crystal City Business Improvement District President/CEO, Angela Fox. Below, please find the full transcript that offers insight into the ideas and strategies being implemented to transform Virginia's largest downtown district. 

There is no question that retail is changing. Whether that change constitutes a crisis or an opportunity depends on your outlook. Retailers or property owners stuck in the conventional status quo economy will indeed face challenges. Those with the foresight and vision to embrace the change and differentiate themselves from their competition stand to win big.

Successful companies and brands will transform shopping from a chore to a leisure activity, often by locating in vibrant, mixed-use communities with soul and a well-defined “place.” Others will expand the definition of retail to include a wider array of services and experiences – think family-oriented activity zones, rotating restaurants, and especially large-scale, entertainment-based concepts. To compete with online retail, successful sellers will hybridize their physical and digital presences to eliminate the potential advantages of online discount shopping which continues to lose its edge as states impose mandatory sales taxes on internet sales.

Likewise, successful landlords (and brokers) must not view deals as one-off transactions, but rather become experience curators hand-picking retailers, tenants, and entertainment destinations to create the appropriate mix of experiences that will attract people. Naturally, this is easiest for large-scale owners, but communities should also think more strategically about how to achieve the same outcome even with fractured ownership to remain interesting and competitive.

Owners in Crystal City and the Business Improvement District have long understood this strategy focusing on curating experiences to create a place that people chose to spend their time in. Over the past 10+ years, the BID has spearheaded creative pop-ups, hosted live music venues, opened art studios and galleries, attracted live theater, and organized hundreds of events.

As JBG, known for its ability to create place, completes its merger with Vornado/Charles E. Smith, new retail concepts and entertainment destinations will surely drive an exciting new era of transformation in Crystal City.

Today's announcement in the Washington Business Journal's article, "Soon-to-be JBG Smith Lands Anchor Theater for Crystal City Revamp" further illustrates this thinking in practice. The new Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and yet-to-be-named specialty grocer add key experiential and lifestyle anchors critical to defining place and attracting additional successful retail in a highly competitive marketplace.

To learn more about Crystal City as well as the events and transformations underway, please visit