This time of year I attend a lot of conferences. A lot. I’ve written about the SIOR annual conference in Denver and the Counselors of Real Estate meeting in Charleston. I’m proud of the alphabet soup behind my name as these acronyms – CCIM, ULI, SIOR, CRE, etc. – are important. A benefit of earning these designations and accreditations is you get to attend conferences, catch up with colleagues, and stay on the pulse of what’s happening in your market.

All that said, sometimes you have to miss one. I recently was disappointed to miss the ULI Fall Symposium in Boston. But I was lucky enough to get a recap of the best hits from the conference from some valued colleagues, and in turn, I will share them with you.

With thanks and credit to Mike Burnett, of Charlotte-based Burnett Real Estate Advisory, here are some of the highlights of the ULI Fall Symposium:

1. Perhaps my favorite tidbit is this: 64 percent of Americans have Amazon Prime accounts – that’s more people than who voted in the 2016 Presidential Election (61.4 percent of Americans voted, according to Pew Research Center).

2. Amazon Prime shoppers spent an average of $84 per purchase, which is more than I would have expected. Don’t underestimate the power of ecommerce.

3. A prediction for 2019 in 3 words or less: (according to a survey to ULI’s members)

a. Plateaued
b. Evolving – think technology, generational choices, changes in preference by geography and property type, changes in the type of investors getting involved.
c. Competition – competition will be much sharper.

4. There remains room to run. ULI’s members reported that the outlook for profitability in commercial real estate is the same for 2019 as it was for 2018. However, lower General Partner growth is projected to be the norm, with a forecast of 2 percent.

5. The population is getting older, and the working age population as a percentage of the total is shrinking.

6. Retailers are being more efficient in how they use space. No surprise to those who have read my articles about the growth of ecommerce. Thirty percent of online purchases are expected to be returned. People are also willing to pay a premium if they can get their item within three hours. It’s a dynamic industry.

Overall, the theme was a positive one.

Tip of the hat to Mike Burnett for sharing his notes with me! To learn more, send me an email and I will introduce you my pal, Mike.