Key Takeaways and Insights: ICSC Las Vegas 2024

Attending the 2024 ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers) conference this year in Las Vegas was another year filled with insightful meetings, dynamic discussions, and plenty of key takeaways and insights. Here are my thoughts on the current state of the retail real estate market and some observations from the conference.

Strong Attendance and Productive Meetings

First off, the attendance at ICSC Vegas this year felt strong. The folks I needed to connect with were all there, and my meetings were incredibly productive. Many of the attendees I spoke with had jam-packed schedules, indicating a high level of engagement within the conference. Given that conference badges ranged from $850 to $1,500, depending on the purchase timing, it’s clear that those who attended were committed to making the most of their investment. This level of participation is encouraging for the industry, signaling a renewed, strong interest in face-to-face interactions and networking.

Varied Deal Economics

The economic landscape of deals is highly varied depending on the type of center, market, and landlord. On one end of the spectrum, major players with significant properties in high-demand areas like Austin are pushing rents two or three times higher upon renewal/expiration. Conversely, there are landlords in our market who are willing to negotiate below-market deals, offering attractive incentives such as free rent and tenant improvement concessions to secure deals with the tenants on the hunt. This wide range of rent pricing, specifically on the lower end, reflects the diverse strategies landlords are employing to attract and retain tenants in a market with extremely low vacancy. 

Sustainability of High Rents

As mentioned earlier, major players with significant properties in high-demand areas like Austin are pushing rents two or three times higher upon renewal/expiration. These same properties are quoting at least 1.5x more in rent than nearby centers. The sustainability of these high rents is a topic of debate. While it immediately reduces competition in the market by creating a wide range of rent pricing, there is a concern that such elevated rents may not be sustainable in the long term. Conceptually, Landlords are capitalizing on the current low availability of space. They are pushing rents higher, knowing that tenants don’t have many other options to go to right now. This strategy may lead to higher vacancy rates as tenants are unable or unwilling to meet the increased costs without significantly changing their own business models. Incredibly, in markets like Austin, some landlords are successfully obtaining these 2-3x elevated rates, but proposing a 100% increase in rent on a renewal seems excessive and potentially unsustainable.

Challenges for Developers

Developers are currently facing significant challenges in the market. There are no “normal” or easy deals anymore, with high costs for land, construction, and borrowing. Strong leasing has always been crucial, but it is now more important than ever. Winning deals today requires robust data to support site selection in each market. In the past, sub-market demographic data sufficed, but now the emphasis has expanded to include vehicle and foot traffic counts per shopping center, strong sales volume data per tenant, and recent, accurate comps nearby. With comprehensive data backing a tenant’s suitability within a site, the process of assembling this complex puzzle that is “the retail landscape” becomes much clearer.


The 2024 ICSC Las Vegas conference highlighted the dynamic and varied nature of the retail real estate market. While strong attendance and productive meetings indicate a healthy, continued interest in the industry, the varied deal economics and sustainability of high rents, due to low vacancy, present both opportunities and challenges. Developers need to rely on strong leasing using detailed and accurate data to navigate the complexities of the current market. As we move forward, it will be interesting to see how these trends evolve and shape the future of retail real estate.

Michael Noteboom, Senior Vice President