I’m not much of a follower of astrology and the signs of the zodiac, but I do know that 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit on the Chinese calendar.
It seems somehow fortuitous that speed and agility define a year that is all about economic recovery. And retail is moving forward at a rate that, while not exactly hare-like, is at least faster than the proverbial tortoise.
A report released in April jointly by the International Council of Shopping Centers and PNC Real Estate Research, entitled “U.S. Retail Real Estate Supply Conditions,” tracked and analyzed announced store closings and GLA for fourth quarter 2010. I realize at first blush that a report about contraction might not illustrate forward progress, but it suggests that retailers were focused on right-sizing in 2010. And a streamlined ship can travel at a much faster clip than a tug boat hauling excess cargo.
According to the report, Blockbuster and Talbots led announced store reductions in the final quarter of 2010, accounting for 41% of total store closings with 182 and 100 units to be shuttered, respectively. A.J. Wright, a division of TJX Cos.,
announced 71 store closings in fourth quarter, Duckwall-ALCO closed 44, regional furnishings player Lack’s closed 36, Borders closed 17 stores, and discount department store chain Loehmann’s announced 15 closings and declared bankruptcy.
During the fourth quarter, some 700 retailers and restaurants announced expected closings, consisting of approximately 10.4 million sq. ft. and representing 0.07% of the total inventory of retail space within the United States.
However, the report emphasized that the improving economy helped to spark stronger profitability in the retail sector as a whole — and that occupancy is beginning to trend higher as more retailers are cautiously returning to expansion.
Chain Store Age’s April/May issue — with the annual real estate section geared toward the ICSC’s RECon 2011 show in Las Vegas held May 22 to 25 — underscores the idea that talk of expansion has supplanted contraction discussions in retailer corporate staff meetings. In our development coverage, beginning on page 34, we highlight th