REAL ESTATE

Marcus & Millichap: Improving retail real estate outlook

BY Michael Fickes

Calabasas, Calif. — Broader regional economic growth and improved consumer and retailer finances bode well for retail real estate investments in well-located properties, according to “The Retail Outlook” from Marcus & Millichap Research Services’ second quarter 2013 mid-year outlook for the national retail market and U.S. economy.

The second quarter 2013 mid-year analysis, The Retail Outlook observes that retailers that survived the recession have honed their business models and balance sheets. As a result, retail closings in the first quarter of 2013 fell 70% compared to the same period last year, despite the continuing growth of e-commerce, which is generally thought to shrink store footprints and reduce demand for retail space.

Limited growth in space is helping support property values. The Outlook puts new supplies at 10% to 25% of the long-term average. Significant new construction activity has been occurring in only a few pockets, including Houston, Chicago and Dallas-Fort Worth, with the focus on single-tenant properties and power centers.

While strip and neighborhood centers continue to struggle, the national vacancy rate for shopping centers has fallen from 11.2% to 10.7% over the past year.

Rents are still falling nationally, but coastal markets are seeing strong rent growth.

As the economy continues to recover and job growth begins to strengthen, The Outlook forecasts net absorption of retail space of 79.7 million sq. ft. in 2013 compared to 55 million sq. ft. in new supply. If that materializes, the national vacancy rate for all retail will decline 40 basis points to 7.7% and push the national average asking rents up 1.8% to $16.06 per sq. ft.

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ShopAtHome.com caters to digitally savvy shoppers

BY CSA STAFF

DENVER — ShopAtHome.com, a coupon and cash back search engine used by more than 19 million consumers each month, has upgraded its tablet app to address the online shopping needs of a fast-growing number of tablet users.

The updated tablet app for iOS and Android provides a personalized shopping and savings experience based on a consumer’s previous behavior.

"The new app learns a consumer’s habits and interests. Once a user has shopped at an online retailer or given the store a high rating, the app will push notifications of sales, coupons and cash back deals from these preferred stores," said Michael Pace, head of mobile product for ShopAtHome.com. "This ensures that a consumer never misses out on a great deal from a store they frequent."

"Our consumers know how to seek out the best deals and can earn significant cash back through the ShopAtHome.com platform," said Lesley Kennedy, ShopAtHome.com senior managing editor. "This new app enhances their shopping experience by flagging personalized deals, which also helps our customers save time by eliminating the needs to scour the Internet for deals on the items they want from the stores they love."

ShopAtHome.com was founded in 1986 by husband-and-wife team Marc and Claudia Braunstein.

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More progress on the three Ps of sustainability at Kimberly-Clark

BY CSA STAFF

Reduced landfill waste, fewer accidents and increased sales from environmentally friendly products were among the accomplishments Kimberly-Clark touted in its 10th annual sustainability report.

The company’s report, a comprehensive overview progress against its sustainability and corporate responsibility efforts, highlights significant developments in key areas of people, planet and products. Kimberly-Clark manufacturers some of the worlds best known brands such as Kleenex, Scott, Huggies, Pull-Ups, Kotex and Depend.

"This year’s sustainability report shows that we are continuing to advance in areas such as product innovation, reduction of environmental footprint within our operations and responsible sourcing of raw materials, while at the same time enhancing workplace safety and fair labor practices," said Tom Falk, chairman and CEO of Kimberly-Clark. "We will continue to apply passion and ingenuity to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow with a spirit of good stewardship. We are working with the same dedication to quality, service and fairness established by our founders."

In the area of people, the company said eight of its mills attained one million labor hours worked safely without a reportable incident and 13,000 employees had enrolled in a program called Small Steps that is designed to enhance employee engagement in sustainability.

With regard to the planet, Kimberly-Clark said 58% of its facilities met a goal of zero landfill manufacturing waste. The company also said it achieved a 15% annual improvement in energy efficiency, which resulted in enough energy savings to power more than 300,000 houses for one year. Advancements in tissue manufacturing resulted in a 12% improvement in water use efficiency and a new goal calls for a 50% reduction in the use of wood fiber from natural forests by 2025.

On the product front, 22% or approximately $4.6 billion, of the company’s net sales are now derived from environmentally innovative products and 1.5 million pounds of sterile medical wraps were diverted from landfills.

"As we continue to make progress toward our Sustainability 2015 goals, we are also looking at global trends further into the future," said Lisa Morden, the company’s senior director of global sustainability. "Even now, we are defining our next-generation sustainability goals and strategies to ensure the long-term resilience of our businesses, while continuing to focus in driving meaningful progress today."

The company’s entire report is available here.

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