Best Places to Shop in Miami — and It’s Not Just a Mall Town

Home to sunny weather and miles of beaches, Miami is reinventing itself again. In recent years, the city has given way to a number of new office buildings, swanky hotels and some of the world’s top retailers. Property developers are continuing to remake a number of neighborhoods within the bustling metropolis.

“Despite the dire predictions for retail in this world, we predict there will be more distribution points than less,” said Greg Masin, senior director at Cushman & Wakefield. “The customer who has a job and who needs dry cleaning or a taco or a pair of shoes isn’t necessarily going to drive to the mall now for the purpose of getting that accomplished.”

Instead, he or she is exploring the recent $1 billion investment in Brickell City Center, the boutiques of Wynwood and the influx of mixed- use projects across the city. And for those bigger retail trips, Aventura Mall and Bal Harbour Shops are still titans in the mall scene, while Lincoln Road is earning its reputation as the fifth-most expensive retail street in the U.S.

Brickell City Center’s outdoor space includes the $30 million Climate Ribbon, an elevated trellis that doubles as an environmental management system.

The Ones to Watch

When Brickell City Center opened in November 2016, the nearly 5 million-square-foot development helped turn the neighborhood from a financial center into a retail hot spot. The center blends both in- and outdoor environments, which visitors can use year-round due to Miami’s tropical climate. It also offers a mix of luxury and moderate brands.

“You have a Zara, you have those national brands, but you also see a lot of smaller brands from Latin America that are maybe lesser known or ‘first in Miami’ stores,” said Suzie Sponder, senior director of communications at the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Brickell’s growth into a destination has also seen the neighboring area of Downtown Miami benefit. Something of an up-and-coming cultural epicenter, Downtown reaches the same customers as Brickell but still offers more affordable retail rents. Similarly, Wynwood and the Design District are strengthening their retail performance as mixed-use developments bring greater foot traffic to the area.

“Luxury and foot traffic never really went hand in hand,” said Drew Schaul, SVP of retail at CBRE. “But the mixed-use projects in the pipeline will increase the daytime population as well as create a residential base, which will help those submarkets increase footfall on a year-round basis and increase the overall consumer spend in retail.”

Outdoor promenade of Bal Harbour Shops
Bal Harbour has emphasized the mixed indoor/outdoor environment since its opening in 1965, to ensure year-round suitability.
CREDIT: Bal Harbour Shops

The Classic Retail Powerhouses

“Historically, this was a mall-oriented town — and those are still exceedingly healthy properties,” said Cushman & Wakefield’s Masin, referring to Aventura Mall and Bal Harbour Shops.

As they are consistently performing as two of the top 10 shopping centers in the U.S., despite being within seven miles of each other, the malls’ owners are continuing to invest in their properties in a bid to keep up with the changing demands of the modern consumer. With new artwork installations and open-air venues for performances, both properties draw large numbers of shoppers, according to local brokers, and are positioning themselves as art centers as well as retail destinations — and that bodes well for luxury retail.

Meanwhile, Lincoln Road is popular with millennials and wealthy tourists alike, due to its strong merchandise mix, proximity to Miami Beach hotels and number of flagship stores on a single street. While the area experienced a retail slump after rents rose significantly in 2014, this is beginning to correct itself, and stores are still ringing up some of their highest sales volumes at the Lincoln Road locations.

Watch the video below to tour an example of modern retail: Kickasso’s new store

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