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Report: Store opening plans for 2013 at a four-year high

Chicago -- Store opening plans for 2013 are at a four-year high even as positive retail trends tempered with uncertain fiscal policies signal a cautious start to the new year, according to a report released Monday by Jones Lang LaSalle.

According to Jones Lang LaSalle’s 2013 National Retail Real Estate Outlook, retailers will open as many as 78,325 stores in the next two years – up 11% from year-end plans in 2011. Construction will add 52 million sq. ft. of space in 2013, more than double the 20 million sq. ft. completed in 2012.

Also, relatively stable pricing and pent-up demand for non-durable goods will drive up consumer spending slightly in 2013, but retail real estate performance is unlikely to see dramatic improvements until employment growth accelerates.

“2013 will be a year to separate the wheat from the chaff,” said Greg Maloney, president and CEO, Jones Lang LaSalle’s Americas. “Property subtypes, markets and retailers that are doing well now will continue to strengthen their position, while those that are weak and struggling will stumble along or fail entirely.”

Jones Lang LaSalle’s forecast assumes that lawmakers will act to avert a fiscal and economic collapse, even if only by means of a temporary compromise. Lingering risks to retail sales in 2013 include a potential spike in energy prices, natural disasters, geopolitical instability abroad and structural shifts in buying patterns and online purchasing.

Retail real estate fundamentals, too, are in a tug of war between positive and negative trends that will largely cancel each other out in 2013, leaving overall occupancy and rental rates to stagnate. Some retailers will expand aggressively, but there is a concurrent trend toward smaller store footprints. And as some chains vacate big box spaces or close altogether, off-price department stores and other retailers will seize upon those opportunities to backfill the space, according to JLL.

Consumers will be slightly better off in 2013 and are expected to increase retail spending moderately, barring economic shocks. Households continue to deleverage, core inflation remains low, and another unseasonably mild winter may reduce consumers’ energy costs and boost spending at restaurants and on staple goods like apparel and footwear through mid-year. Weather and disaster-related preparation and repairs may drive some spending, and sales of existing and new homes will increase in 2013, driving purchases of furniture and other goods.

The report revealed the following 2013 retail real estate outlook highlights:

  • Non-durable purchases will outperform throughout 2013 with a marked improvement expected in the second half, reflecting stable core prices (excluding food and energy).
  • More retailers are opening stores-within-anchors: Target has added Apple displays and small shops; J.C. Penney operates mini-stores such as Mango and Sephora and plans hundreds of in-store shops; and Finish Line plans to open 450 stores inside Macy’s.
  • To better compete with online sellers, retailers including Wal-Mart are experimenting with same-day delivery in some markets.
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