Are ‘live, work, shop, play’ environments a big part of retail’s future?
According to a new study on mixed-use developments from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), 78 percent of U.S. adults would consider residing in “live, work, shop, play” environments that have a variety of housing, workplaces, dining and recreational outlets for entertainment all within close proximity to one another.
Such environments are particularly appealing to Millennials (85 percent) and Gen X (80 percent), the survey found. Seventy-one percent of Boomers are also interested in living in “live, work, shop, play” environments. That’s likely reflected in the finding that the top reason to reside in “live, work, shop, play” environments is the convenience/efficiency of being close to almost everything (55 percent), followed by easier access to amenities as they age (46 percent).
The findings are similar to those from a comprehensive 2017 survey from the National Association of Realtors that found, when purchasing a home, 80 percent place importance on being within easy walking distance of places. Sixty-two percent of Millennials and 55 percent of the silent generation (those born between the mid-1920s and mid-1940s) were found to prefer walkable communities and short commutes, even if it means living in an apartment or townhouse. Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers still showed a strong preference toward suburban living.
Part of the interest in “live, work, shop, play” environments comes from Millennials and younger Boomers rediscovering cities and downtowns. A study led by researchers at Rutgers that came out last year found educated Millennials prefer larger, more urban environments for the perks of diversity, economic opportunities, entertainment, safety and the feeling of status.
Smaller, walkable cities appeal residents due in part to the charm offered by locally-owned shops and restaurants, as well as their affordability.
Some real estate observers believe that Millennials, early in their careers and encumbered by student loans, can’t yet afford expansive homes and may head to the suburbs as their families expand. A new study from the National Association of Realtors found the local job market and affordability as the main drivers of Millennials’ home-buying decisions.
- Huge public appetite for mixed-use communities – The International Council of Shopping Centers
- Mixed-Use Properties: A Convenient Option for Shoppers – International Council of Shopping Centers
- No urban malaise for Millennials – Rutgers University
- Affordability in the Top 10 Most Popular Markets for Millennials, According to NAR – National Association of Realtors
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see interest in “live, work, shop, play” environments as an expanding, long-term trend? What’s driving their appeal and what adjustments should retailers and real estate developers make?