• Colliers | Columbus

THE FUTURE OF RETAIL: IMPACTS OF COVID-19

Updated: Apr 30, 2020

Written by: Gilli Zofan

Gilli Zofan brings over 14 years of experience to the real estate industry focusing on both the leasing and sale of retail properties. To date, Gilli has completed over 600 transactions totaling over $200M. His vast knowledge of the industry makes him an expert in the field. Keep reading to get Gilli’s take on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the retail market.


What changes have you noticed with retailers’ internal real estate teams since the COVID-19 outbreak started?

I have seen certain retailers either eliminate or significantly reduce the real estate and construction departments as they focus attention on operations. Although there are some retailers that continue to make deals, many have made both layoffs and/or furloughs during the pandemic. As a result, executives have become the point-of-contact for brokers, and those executives are leaning directly on brokers to keep transactions moving and for market intel.


Do you think we’ll continue to see this happen moving forward? Why or why not?

In the short term, yes, but long term, there will still be a need for in-house real estate departments. The question is that of the internal individual's experience level, and if they will be at a high dollar executive level, or a young entry-level individual. I believe some retailers will keep their real estate departments lean and potentially more administrative, with executives still leaning heavily on brokerage networks.


How do you anticipate the role of retail brokers evolving/changing for their clients in the future?

Retail brokers will continue to be a source of market knowledge and trends for clients. With certain retailers, they will become more of an “in-house” department, strengthening the client relationship.


What other trends do you think the retail industry will see over the next year?

It will force all retailers to create a form of e-commerce, even those that up till now have resisted. On the restaurant side, I believe drive-thru’s will prove all the more valuable, given the strength those operators have seen during this pandemic. ​ ​

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