JLL explains how to expand into the U.S. and captivate shoppers

There are 140 retail cities worldwide that retailers should consider for expansion according to JLL’s recent Destination Retail report. The United States is home to more one-fifth of these retail meccas, which generate retail sales equal to that of Spain, Germany, Italy, France and the United Kingdom combined. So why do so many international retailers press pause on setting up a U.S. store?

Well, the United States is a mature retail market that has been largely dominated by domestic retailers. There have been a handful of retailers who don’t succeed at expanding into the United States – but many who have done it, and done it well says JLL’s Managing Director of Retail Tenant Services, Michael Hirschfeld. There is ample opportunity for international retailers to expand within the U.S. borders – but what separates the winners from the losers is advance planning and continuous evaluation.

“Some retailers think building the biggest, high-tech store on the best corner in New York is how they’re going to succeed in the United States. But, for most retailers to achieve stable, consistent growth we find that they need to do heavy lifting before they even lay a brick – really understand the consumer and cities they are entering,” added Hirschfeld.

Hirschfeld outlined three ways retailers can get the keys to the U.S (retail) castle:

  1. Mine Data: The U.S. is an incredibly transparent market for consumer data – know your consumer. Know who they are in your home country, who they will be in the U.S. and how you can capitalize on the U.S. demographic and psychographic data that is readily available. A New Yorker is different than a Chicagoan or Los Angelenos – a blanket approach may not work.
  2. Get City Specific: Cities consumers are different, but so are its regulations, labor laws, construction restrictions and cultures. Spend 12-18 months digging deep in target markets – and think beyond the core targets. A brand that doesn’t do well in Miami or New York, doesn’t mean it won’t succeed in the U.S., find your city niche.
  3. Main Street or Mall? Consider a mall store as your first point of entry. The U.S. has an incredible rail and highway system for transporting goods and people. While malls may be perceived as “dated” they are alive and well.

As globalization continues to shrink our world, the proliferation of brands outside their native borders will increase exponentially, dramatically shifting the global retail landscape over the next decade. The U.S. is expected to remain a safe haven for retail brands over the long-term, and has pockets of opportunistic rental rates. “The U.S. retail market too big too not venture into, eventually. Brands established in their home markets, that need to advance their revenues should consider the Land of Opportunity – it’s called that for a reason,” concluded Hirschfeld.


Learn more about the U.S. and its key cities in JLL’s recent Destination Retail report examines the markets and retailers that are the main drivers of current expansion, measuring 240 international retail brands across 140 key cities.

About Author

Michael Hirschfeld

Managing Director, JLL Retail

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