Traditional brick and mortar retail stores in Florida and around the country are finding it increasingly difficult to lure customers away from their computers and the conveniences of shopping online. The rise of e-commerce has led many once prominent retailers to close their doors for good, and mall operators around the country have often turned to restaurant chains to fill cavernous retail spaces once occupied by department stores and other anchor tenants.
Data showing that Americans spend more money in restaurants than grocery stores would indicate that this is a sound strategy, but spending trends indicate that even the hospitality segment is beginning to struggle. While restaurant revenues are still rising, the rate of growth has slowed noticeably since mid-2014. Spending in restaurants increased by a tepid 6.25 percent in the first quarter of 2016 compared with a more robust 8 percent surge in the second quarter of 2015.
While the decline in traditional retail spending has been blamed almost completely on the rise of online shopping, causes for declining hospitality spending are more difficult to identify. Many experts believe that Americans are becoming more cautious financially due to concerns about the increasing costs of necessities like housing and health care, and they say that highly contentious primary and general election campaigns have done much to fuel these fears.
Change is one of the few constants in a free market economy, and commercial property developers who hope to stay one step ahead of their competitors would be wise to study consumer spending trends carefully. When evolving market conditions lead real estate owners and managers to rent vacant retail spaces to restaurateurs, attorneys with experience in this area may assist them by addressing any zoning, land use or regulatory issues that may arise.