Strip not yet maxed out on shopping

There’s no shortage of shopping and dining on the Strip. There’s Fashion Show mall, the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian, Miracle Mile Shops, Forum Shops at Caesars, Shops at Crystals and an endless supply of restaurants, bars, cafes and dessert spots.

Casino owners, however, are betting big money there’s room for more.

Caesars Entertainment Corp. recently opened the Linq, a $550 million open-air complex with more than 30 retail, dining and entertainment options; in 2016, MGM Resorts International plans to open the Park, a $100 million outdoor plaza with bars, restaurants and retail; Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin is replacing part of the resort’s lagoon with a three-story shopping center; investors are building the 55,000-square-foot Grand Bazaar Shops in front of Bally’s, and the Tropicana’s owners reportedly plan to build a two-story, 275,000-square-foot mall.

Visitor levels are strong, and more tourists are bypassing card games and slot machines to spend money on clothes, meals and cocktails.

“I think there’s probably enough,” Miracle Mile General Manager Jerry Irwin said of the Strip’s retail venues. “But I don’t think there’s too much.”

The average tourist last year spent $279 on food and drinks per trip, up from $250 in 2009, and $141 on shopping, up from $102, according to GLS Research. Meanwhile, 71 percent of last year’s visitors gambled here, down from 83 percent in 2009.

In Clark County, people spent almost $6.8 billion at restaurants, bars and other food and drink from July 2013 through March, up 8 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to state data, and almost $2.7 billion at clothing and accessory stores, up 2 percent.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Leven, whose company owns the Venetian and Palazzo, said new retail complexes will be fine as long as they cater to price-conscious shoppers.

“If they try to go too far upscale, I don’t think there’s a demand for that,” he said.

With all the focus on retail and restaurants, though, resort owners shouldn’t give up too quickly on Las Vegas’ main cash cow: Gaming. The average gambling budget last year among tourists who hit the floor was $530, according to GLS Research, up from $482 in 2009.

Casino revenue is down overall, but it’s a lot more lucrative to have someone gambling $50 a hand, or even $10, than strolling around a mall, hunting for jeans.

Tags: The Sunday