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How one REIT is luring online brands into brick-and-mortar stores

(Credit: iStock)

Macerich is trying out a new program in its malls to make it easier for e-commerce brands to open bricks-and-mortar stores.

The $7 billion real estate investment trust – the country’s ninth-largest mall owner with some 51 million square feet of retail space – is cutting through the red tape of opening a store, Forbes reported.

Instead of a traditional lease – where the tenant is in charge of things like hiring a broker, securing city permits and installing their own build-out – Macerich is offering retailers co-tenancy agreements that come with the turnkey space.

“Consumers get excited about seeing anything new,” Kevin McKenzie, Macerich’s chief digital officer, told Forbes. “They always want to experience and taste anything new. We have a team that is constantly looking for new brands and ideas and concepts that we can feature.”

Tenants pony up a monthly fee and, in return, they get services from Macerich that includes foot-traffic analysis and other analytics tools that allow brands to see how a physical store impacts online sales in the same zip code.

The program, which Macerich is calling BrandBox, comes with a commitment of six to 12 months, as opposed to three to 10 years for a traditional lease.

Macerich is hoping the initiative gives it an inside track to up-and-coming retail concepts that will one day grow into traditional mall tenants. The mall company is rolling BrandBox out first at its Tysons Corner Center in Virginia outside Washington, D.C., and plans to expand the program to other properties in its portfolio.

Earlier this year the company announced a partnership with co-working company Industrious to turn unused retail space into flexible offices. [Forbes] – Rich Bockmann

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