What kinds of commercial construction projects are at the top of the list in the U.S. today?

The Beam Team continues to see activity in seven key areas:  Retail, Mobile electronics, Restaurants, Hospitality, Grocery stores, C-stores and fuel stations & Franchises.

Of course, institutional buildings and general industrial building projects persist. Some view these as being driven by a different kind of supply-demand curve. Foundations, for example, may fund the building a new wing to a university hospital or improve campuses. Other projects, like a new stadium, may originate in the private sector—but become quasi-public-private affairs with incentives or tax dollars.

In terms of “bread and butter” projects—driven by consumer confidence and demand—the most common commercial construction projects in the United States hold no major surprises. As reported by Builderspace.com, the primary types of commercial and retail construction echo what The Beam Team is seeing. Hotels, restaurants and retail stores, shopping malls, medical facilities and office buildings are table steaks. Industrial structures, like factories, warehouses, and sports facilities, also involve large budgets and long timeframes for their location and development.

Shopping malls have faced decline, a trend that began even before the COVID epidemic. Today, some of these mammoth structures are being re-purposed in innovative ways, such as mixed-use offices, residences, and retail.

Let us look more closely at the more consistent, traditional commercial construction trends.  7 Trends in Commercial Construction:

1. Retail
The impacts of COVID and stay-at-home accelerated some trends that were already in motion before 2020. Retailers and “anchor store” brands have seen a lot of change over the last decade, and COVID sped up the need to accommodate pick-up services, maximize floor space and integrate more technology to assist customers. These trends are adding up to more remodeling and renovation activity, and outpacing ground-up construction.

Some populations were moving into metro centers for a certain kind of lifestyle, driving changes in the placement of stores and what they sold. But COVID pushed other demographics to the outer reaches of the suburbs. These rapid shifts presented new challenges for retailers as things seemed to flash forward—while also shifting and splitting key demographics.

Today’s activity centers are implementing new technologies to improve the guest experience. People virtually try on new clothes, calling for new systems on the floor in addition to fitting rooms. Other retailers are forging alliances with ecommerce partners, like Kohl’s has with Amazon—accepting Amazon returns and handing out coupons and incentives to keep them shopping.

These pivots are reactions to where demographics are going after the global impacts of COVID—as well as trends that change what belongs on the retail floor vs. online. Refreshes and remodels rank high, such as making more room for displays and reducing storeroom space. This kind of strategy enables consumers to touch and feel more products but order them online rather than carry them out of the stores.

2. Mobile & Consumer Electronics
Like retail, trends in electronics were moving cell phone stores and consumer electronics brands into uncharted—and highly competitive—waters. Major brands like Best Buy carefully test, then scale, their new concepts in consumer electronics. Other device resellers, like Verizon, seek ways to pioneer interactions with shoppers, while honoring social distancing on smaller footprints.

3. Restaurants & QSR
People have been eating healthier, in general, which impacts the menus, refrigeration and many other aspects of how QSRs format their restaurants.

Then COVID came, and the chain of events quickly constricted travel. This placed big bumps in the road for highway-bound QSRs that rely on truck drivers and vacationers to keep their registers humming.

It also challenged mom-and-pop restaurants. The struggle to survive became very real, as some responded by adding drive-throughs or improving how carry-outs get handled. Services like Door Dash helped many of these smaller or regional operators to survive.

Time will tell what each brand decides to do in the final analysis. Meanwhile, innovators like Domino’s Pizza continue to make more out of less space, driving renovations and refreshes nationwide.

4. Hospitality & Hotels
Hit hard by COVID, the hotel industry focused on health and safety—and perhaps less so on expansions or major remodeling. The vaccine seems to be leading America back into the air and out on the roads. In turn, hospitality seeks ways to bounce back, to compensate for dwindling events and conferences revenues while also winning back traditional business travelers and families.

Those who put off remodeling or upgrades will be doubling down. This is a rare opportunity to capture market share—winning new travelers who seek new experiences (and safety). Hotel operators may view this as opportunities to remodel or refresh certain portions of their properties—to win over businesspeople and families returning to the road.

5. Grocery Stores
Grocery store chains and regional groceries reacted nimbly to COVID. After all, they were among the stalwart essential businesses.

Continued work is being done to formalize social distancing, traffic control, checkout lanes, aisles, and other footprints. This promotes activity for remodeling and fixture installations.

Grocery stores always seek economical ways to advance trends in “experiential shopping”—such as in-store delis and cafes. Consumer sensitivities to social distancing and other factors impacted those kinds of in-store experiences, but much remains to be seen in a post-vaccine world.

6. Convenience & Fuel
Among the essential businesses during the worst of times, c-stores continued investing in fresh interiors and integrated shopping and quick-serve experiences. Many are adding more SKUs in small footprints, predicting they can keep some customers they earned during the pandemic.

RaceTrac and other innovators in the c-store space have remodeled some properties, upgraded formats, and expanded their brands into new geographies.

7. Franchises
American workers have experienced a more fluid, less stable career environment. Trends already showed that millennials and Gen Z have wanted to explore careers that are independent from traditional employment—the rise of the side hustle. Today, we see more and more individuals leaving “corporate America” to open small businesses or a franchise.

Commercial builders like The Beam Team view franchises—with their proven business models—as increasingly important to the construction industry (not to mention, the U.S. economy).

Corporate-owned franchises also drive regular projects, serving as new models or testing grounds for new products and new experiences. Generally, the franchise must hit certain notes to maintain the brand and ensure a successful format. The right commercial contractor brings expertise to see those notes get hit—on time and on budget.

If you are contemplating a commercial construction project or need fixture installation and other services, consider www.thebeamteam.com.

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