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    The Week In News, But Shorter

    March 18 - 24, 2024

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    The Week In News, But Shorter
    March 18 – 24, 2024

    Industries from dining to retail and real estate are undergoing significant changes, driven by a combination of labor challenges and consumer trends, but many are finding solace in operational innovations. When challenged, can you find ways to make your day-to-day job either easier, faster, or even better….both!  This week we saw examples of this strategy as restaurants are grappling with staffing shortages by employing a new robotics venture that offers novel, albeit some impersonal solutions.  On the tenant side, the process of selecting a location is being streamlined as retailers are leveraging data insights to decide where they place their stores and a major anchor is using technology to bring down overall costs and is seeking to streamline its fulfillment operations. It was a good reminder that technology and innovation don’t always have to be flashy and sometimes just needs to make your business more efficient. 

    Last but not least, does your workplace smell of success, or is that just your employer pumping custom smells into the HVAC as a way to bring you back to the office?  Hines is exploring different aromas to bring its employees back to the office.

    For a sneak preview each week, check us out on LinkedIn where you can find some of this content before it hits your inbox.

    Digital Meets Physical

    Restaurant Robotics Revs Up Amid Labor Shortages [CrunchbaseAmericans love eating out. Trouble is, restaurants need people to provide those drinks, meals and snacks. Nearly half of food service employers today say they need more workers. Theoretically, automation could go a long way to ease the labor shortage. To that end, startups have tried to pitch in over the past few years, bringing us robot waiters, baristas, pizza chefs, burger-flippers and french fry cooks.

    Malls Embrace AI-Based Virtual Influencers To Engage Shoppers [ForbesThe rapid adoption of artificial intelligence is here, resulting in AI-generated avatars that look, sound, and act like people—with their own (programmed) personalities and preferences. Put these two trends together and you get a new kind of tastemaker: the virtual influencer.

    Macy’s to Downsize Fulfillment Operations in $235M Cost Cut [Sourcing JournalMacy’s will consolidate fulfillment capacity by closing multiple distribution centers with higher processing costs. The CFO and COO also said the company would “monetize select assets,” suggesting a sale or sublease could be in the cards for parts of its industrial real estate.

    Location (Data) Is Everything for Retailers Opening Stores [WSJRetailers opened more stores than they closed in 2023 for the third consecutive year and looks to continue into 2024. Underpinning this steady expansion is the increasing sophistication of cellphone data and other location analytics, which allow companies and landlords to pinpoint spots for successful stores with greater accuracy than ever before.

    How AI is fueling Mango’s $3.4 billion business [GlossyFashion retailer Mango has launched a set of AI-based platforms recently to improve efficiency across the value chain including – Midas for pricing products; Gaudí, for recommending products to customers; Iris, a chatbot for improved customer service; Inspire, a generative content and co-creation platform for design and product teams; and Lisa, a conversational platform used by different internal teams.

    Walmart pilots 3D weaving machines to produce garments for private label [RetailDiveWalmart announced a pilot project on Thursday with Unspun, a fashion tech company, to test its 3D weaving machines to make workwear style pants for the retailer’s house brand. With 3D weaving machines, yarn is spun directly into completed garments. 


    Codi Expands ‘Office-as-a-Service’ Platform to Los Angeles [Commercial ObserverThe WeWork rival which offers private, move-in-ready workspaces, is launching its operations in Los Angeles with 36 listings across the city,, with more than 50 in the pipeline,  together totaling nearly 92,000 square feet.

    The Once and Future Shopping Mall [Governing.comIn the many decades since we started going to shopping malls, we have rarely stopped to ask what larger purpose, if any, they are supposed to serve. They are seen almost entirely as commercial enterprises designed to make a profit and respond to, and often create, consumer demand. Very little has been written about malls as a social institution.

    America’s Office Fire Sale Has Barely Begun [WSJIn 2023, only 3.5% of all office deals in the U.S. involved a distressed seller, based on analysis by MSCI Real Assets. The most recent numbers available show the share slipping to 2.7% in January. Distressed sales ramped up much faster in the GFC. 

    How shoppers are planning to spend on Easter 2024 [NRFWith Easter right around the corner, consumers are starting to browse for chocolate bunnies and other spring items in preparation for the holiday. Eighty-one percent of consumers plan to celebrate the holiday and they expect to spend $22.4 billion.

    What Does a Quality Office Workplace Smell Like? [PropmodoHines is the only real estate company that has developed a custom scent at office and residential properties in U.S. locations. By implementing a sensory experience, Hines aims to create memorable experiences for its tenants and was developed with two leading companies in the space that have created scents for the Ritz Carlton and St. Regis hotels.

    Technology May Be Able to Add Flex Space to the Valuation Equation [PropmodoWhile the failures of co-working giants like Knotel and WeWork may have highlighted flex space’s challenges, the demand for flexible real estate options remains strong. These failures were largely due to business model weaknesses, not a lack of market interest.




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