• Trusted brands help shift shoppers from street vendors, etc.
  • Big box retail helping to anchor development outside urban core.
  • Growth throughout Mexico, other Latin American nations.

Cities in developing countries are drawing on the power of widely recognized retail brands  – particularly big box retailers such as Target and Walmart – to position themselves as prosperous places offering new shopping choices to an expanding middle class, according to a panel of industry experts at ULI’s Fall Meeting in Denver.

For instance, this is happening with increasing frequency in Mexico, where branding cities through retail is reshaping both urban growth patterns and consumer behavior. Among the changes cited:

  • A shift from “informal” shopping (purchases from street vendors) to more “formal” shopping (more purchases from major retailers)
  • More jobs and tax revenue resulting from stores locating in cities not previously served by major retailers
  • Placement of large stores on the periphery, in some cases causing residents to move from crowded urban centers to suburban neighborhoods

“These brands are changing the dynamic of second-tier cities,” said John Burnstein, managing director at Denver-based Black Creek Capital, LLC, which develops retail centers in major and smaller markets throughout Mexico and some other countries in Latin America.  The retail hubs, which offer a variety of shopping mixed with public amenities, are becoming focal points for the communities, serving as safe and entertaining places to gather, he said.

This trend, evident in major cities as well as smaller markets, is not only offering residents more choices in shopping, but is improving the overall quality of life in the communities – a far broader and significant impact, Burnstein added.