These retailers may also treat stores differently than legacy retailers. “Some of them will want physical storefronts at different points in time,” says Sucharita Kodali, an e-commerce and retail analyst at market research firm Forrester. “They’ll want to go to where their customers are, but they don’t want 10-year-long leases. They don’t necessarily even need to be in malls. They’re very good about organically promoting themselves. They just want a space that looks cool that’s easy for people to access. It’s almost the food-truck-ification of physical retail.”

Kodali predicts some of the biggest new store tenants will be consumer packaged goods companies looking to connect directly with customers in a way that creates a lasting impression. Kellogg’s, Nespresso, M&Ms, and Chobani are among those that have opened shops or cafes in recent years.

Pop-up stores keep growing more popular as well, and large retailers are getting creative with their space by offering square footage to partners that can draw traffic. Last year, department store Kohl’s struck a deal with Sephora to put a mini Sephora store inside 200 Kohl’s locations, while Macy’s teamed with clothing resale platform ThredUp.

The pandemic undoubtedly hit stores hard, but it’s clear it hasn’t stopped them. Landlords with space to fill are looking to make deals with tenants, and a new generation of retailers is seizing the opportunity. “The amount of new stores that our clients tell us they’re planning is actually as big as it’s ever been,” Morris says. “And a lot of these brands are maybe ones that very few of us have ever heard of before.”

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.