At Orlando conference, retail experts predict malls will be increasingly innovative

Coming soon to a mall near you: interactive experiences, healthcare services for aging baby boomers and e-commerce approaches for millennials.

Those were among the predictions and recommendations discussed Monday at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ Florida conference, held at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee.

Innovation in retail centers was a recurring theme. More than 3,800 people attended the event, which began Sunday night. That number included many real estate professionals from South Florida.

Retail centers and retailers need to adapt to changing technology and shifting demographics, several speakers said.

That will require more services at shopping centers geared to aging baby boomers, such as healthcare, as well as a focus on e-commerce and social media to appeal to the millennial generation.

“We need innovation now more than we have ever needed innovation,” said Mark Thompson, managing director of Crossman and Co. in Orlando, during his presentation, “What Got Us Here Won’t Get Us There: Searching for Answers to Questions That No One is Asking.”

Among growing trends is the need to create an experience and sense of place for shoppers, Thompson said, citing such examples as offering cooking classes, a wine bar or a gym at a supermarket.

Same-day delivery of goods is also growing in importance for e-commerce, with Amazon and eBay among those leading the charge.

Increasingly, retail is returning into city centers, said Quinn Eddins, director of research and analysis for CBRE Global Research and Consulting, during his 2014 Florida Retail Report presentation.

Other tidbits gleaned from conference attendees: Trader Joe’s is looking to expand in Miami-Dade County and is scouring the Biscayne Corridor for a site.

And Tequila Bob’s, a bar chain based in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, is looking for its first space in Miami-Dade and Broward.

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