Expansion-minded retail chains, restaurants and entertainment concepts that exhibit at RECon have always been the event’s lifeblood, and this year was no different.

Among the first-time exhibitors this year were Xponential Fitness, a private equity-backed company amassing a portfolio of fitness franchise brands; and Speedway, the largest corporate-owned-and-operated convenience store chain east of the Mississippi. And then there were the RECon veterans and crowd favorites, such as Tropical Smoothie Cafe and Jersey Mike’s Subs, once again securing their exhibit space at the convention.

All are tenants that provide consumers with an experience — an increasingly important element in the user mix, one which landlords seek fervently today, says Timothy McGuinness, ICSC’s vice president of global trade expositions. “It may be an overused term, but we’re seeing a lot of shopping center owners focus attention on the experiential type of tenants that are going to draw people to the center,” he said. “It’s a broad vertical segment that crosses into a number of categories, like fitness concepts with the rock-climbing walls, and restaurants with games. Food service can meet that criteria too.”

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