Currently sitting on a plane waiting to take off from Heathrow for Mapic - an early flight mostly occupied by a broad cross section of the British retail and property sector.
The best thing I have heard this morning is the pilot announcing the temperature in Cannes - 21 degrees and sunny. Seems a world away from the wet and windy UK right now.
To match the great weather is probably the most positive sentiment I have seen around retail since 2008. Consumer confidence is up, retail trade confidence is up, retail sales (depending on which of the many varied and confusing trackers you choose to believe) are up, and interest rates continue to sit at an all time low and will likely stay at the same level till 2016.
It is no great surprise therefore that this Mapic will host more retailers than ever before, and I have an extremely busy day tomorrow in the Mapic ‘bunker’, with 15 meetings back to back - all with retailers, many of which are interested in expanding their interests in international markets and in particular the UK, and some of which would be new entrants to the UK entirely.
Tuesday at Mapic is mostly about registering prior to the arrival of the majority of delegates on Wednesday morning, and tends to be a quieter affair - the calm before the storm so to speak -before the frenzy of meetings that is Wednesday. This evening I have a quiet dinner with a couple of US investors that are looking to bring UK and European retailers to some of their malls in the US. My role is increasingly involving travel to the US, as most strategic decisions some of the bigger international retailers make are invariably taken there.
At ICSC Vegas this year I reported on the positive sentiment pervading the US market at the time, and it is great to see that this has now made its way over to Europe. The recession we have just experienced has been the longest and deepest in living memory - here’s hoping the recovery will be as long and as pronounced, and we can start talking about some of the good things that are happening around retail instead of dwelling on the negative.