Ask the Experts – What Changes Will 2021 Bring for Your Industry?

There’s no two ways about it: 2020 changed the way we do business. And for us, one of the most inspiring things to come out of the Coronavirus pandemic was the incredible sense of innovation, resiliency, and hard work that St. Louis business owners put forth as they learned to serve their customers in new ways throughout the year.

Of course, outdoor space has been a huge priority for the restaurant and general hospitality sector over the past year. “It’s about people and how they behave,” says Evan Barnett, Brokerage Director at Pace Properties.

“Today’s restaurateurs are beginning to seek locations with drive-thru lanes or to-go windows, or converting their current locations to accommodate one or both options. Their customers are seeking a combination of high quality and convenience – both to-go options and al fresco dining with off-season coverings continue to be a strong design trend.”

Hotels and others in the hospitality industry are also making changes, according to Jason Everhart, Partner at The Project Company. “From private meeting spaces to socially-distant outdoor event spaces, the hospitality industry is looking to expand their utility for a wide range of meetings and events. They’re able to provide more seating and a better outdoor experience than many smaller companies can manage on their own. Combined with the hospitality industry’s strong experience with keeping spaces clean, sanitary, and up-to-date with the latest Covid restrictions, it makes for great partnerships.”

The industrial sector has seen its own changes. “Wider bays, more docks per square foot, and higher ceilings to accommodate higher racking are some of the latest trends,” says Ben Cahill, CCIM, Vice-President, Brokerage at Pace Properties.

“LED lighting has also been a huge change. A couple of years ago, all the talk was about transitioning to T8 or T5 fluorescent lighting, but LED offers brighter lights, better energy efficiency, and longer lifespans. Now I can’t remember the last time I saw new construction or retrofit lighting in an industrial setting that was anything but LED.”

In fact, lighting was an important consideration for many hospitality businesses in 2020, and the trend seems likely to continue in the coming year. Tony Frisella Jr., Owner of Frisella Outdoor Lighting notes, “We’ve seen a lot of requests from restaurants for bistro lighting, mood lighting, patio lighting – anything that allows them to make the most of their outdoor space for safe and socially-distant service without sacrificing a great atmosphere that their patrons can enjoy. Many other businesses are looking to upgrade or add to their outdoor lighting as well, either for added security or to create additional spaces for people to congregate without having to be indoors.”

Ultimately, it’s hard to know exactly what 2021 will bring for the commercial side of our lives. Even after the effects of the pandemic have started to recede, a lot of people have changed their habits when it comes to working, dining, and shopping. Tom Niemeier, Owner and Architect at Space Architecture, believes that “a new hybrid will emerge from this period. Restaurants that are able to adapt to this new environment will likely improve the efficiencies in take out, while enhancing the dine in experience.”

“We advise restaurants to add a walk-up window when possible, in order to limit crowded waiting areas, reduce the spread of germs, and protect dine in guests from extreme weather conditions. Many people miss the experience of dining out at a restaurant, getting to enjoy a different atmosphere while the cooking and cleaning is handled for them. Locally owned restaurants are what gives St. Louis its own unique flavor and encourages visitors from other places to come and enjoy. Let’s not keep that a secret.”

No matter what your industry, these St. Louis professionals are here to help you grow and make the most of your space. If you’d like to learn more about how professionally-designed and installed outdoor lighting can improve your business’ security and usability, get in touch with us today.