We live in a world with unlimited data sources - and yet the real estate industry has historically relied on instinct and relationships more than data to make decisions. Consequently, figuring out what sources are best for site selection can be intimidating. The reality is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Every brand and every landlord needs to craft a unique strategy. It’s a more challenging process, but it can yield greater rewards.
But you’ve got to start somewhere. We wanted to highlight data sources—some common and others not—that can be used across various retail real estate circumstances, both for brands looking to lease spaces and for landlords acquiring retail.
One challenging area for landlords and brands alike is understanding what third-party data to pair with existing first-party data. As you can see in Exhibit 1, many types of first-party data can be combined with third-party data to make a rich source for site selection analyses.
- Sales across channels with addresses (store, ecommerce, wholesale)
- Store sales
- Traffic (if counters are present in-store)
- Customer segments
- Traffic / Mobile Data
- Migration Data
- Location Data (where brands are and where centers are)
- Customer Segmentation
One of the best third-party data sources, but one underutilized in real estate, is customer segments. Multiple companies provide this info, including Experian Mosaic, STI Landscape, and Tapestry Segmentation. For landlords, identifying ideal customer profiles and mapping them to discover the best pockets for investment is one way to use the data. For brands and tenants, it is easy to identify exact customer segments by connecting the data to customer addresses. A brand’s team can then identify areas within a market with uncaptured groups of their top segments. This is just a brief overview, but there are many more ways to apply this data, including for marketing purposes.
This data source has long been used by various real estate landlords, brokers, and tenants. Some common sources are the US Census and STI PopStats. However, to ensure that the right data points are being relied on, it is vital to do correlation analysis, which is a simple Excel formula. For owners and tenants, answer the question, “Does this data point correlate to higher sales?” This will help narrow down which demographic data is essential.
- Traffic/Mobile Data
The industry leader in this space is Placer.ai, which uses mobile data to track traffic in and around various shopping areas and centers. Near is another reliable source. Like demographic data, check that it correlates and that it is essential. Surprisingly, it may not always be that relevant. For example, if a brand is a cult brand or heavily relies on social media, its customers will come no matter where they are.
- Migration Data
Is becoming more relevant post-pandemic as many people moved to different cities during this time. Migration data is an excellent indicator of economic vitality and should be included in analyses from both landlords and tenants. Some migration data sources include Placer.ai and the U.S. Census.
- Location Data
Is where other brands are opening stores/closing stores and other centers are located. ChainXY and CenterXY are excellent sources for this data. Creditntell also has this information. They consolidate all the openings and closures of various tenants and centers. This data can be used to determine where tenants might look to open next, therefore indicating a potential retail real estate investment opportunity. It can also help tenants keep track of where their competitors are.
All of these sources are essential in overall retail real estate strategy creation. However, they are also beneficial for one-off analyses. They become instrumental when combined with first-party data—data acquired by the brands or landlords—creating a rich illustration of acquisition and leasing opportunities.