REAL ESTATE

Retail real estate recovery still on, says CBRE

BY Michael Fickes

Los Angeles — For the second consecutive quarter, the retail availability rate has fallen 30 basis points, according to the latest analysis from CBRE Group. The rate now stands at 12.2% and testifies to improved retailer confidence as consumer spending continues to rebound.

The availability rate tracks space that is actively being marketed and available for tenant build-out within 12 months.

All but three markets are seeing availability rates improve or stabilize compared with the second quarter of last year. Top performing markets, according to the report, include Louisville, Kansas City, Columbus, Charlotte and Memphis. Each of these markets recorded a decline of 70 basis points or more.

At the other end of the spectrum, markets such as Denver, Raleigh and Edison, N.J., recorded increases in availability rates of 30 or more basis points during second quarter 2013.

That aside, sales growth at retail centers across the U.S. has gained momentum in recent months, says the report. While growth remains slightly below long-term trends, consumers seem to be maintaining spending across most categories of goods.

The report also notes projections that the housing recovery will likely improve in coming months and benefit retailers that sell housing-related goods.

In addition, discretionary and necessity retailers have reached and surpassed pre-recession sales highs.

CBRE says that a slow but steady recovery has taken hold in all commercial real estate property sectors.

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FINANCE

ShopperTrak: Back-to-school sales, traffic to increase

BY Marianne Wilson

Chicago — Parents will shop and spend more during the back-to-school season this year than they did last year, according to ShopperTrak. The company projects that national retail sales will rise 4.3% in August, and retail foot traffic will increase 0.6%, when compared to the year-ago period.

“Back-to-school shopping is the first major ‘shopping season’ of the calendar year, and has the potential to set the tone for the holidays,” said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. “The economy is, in many ways, stronger than it was last August. We expect that the 2013 season will continue the growth trend of both retail sales and foot traffic.”

In 2012, back-to-school sales increased 5.9% compared to the previous year. In 2011, those sales increased 4.5% over 2010.

This year’s retail foot traffic increase continues the positive trend. In 2012, foot traffic turned around and increased a substantial 11%, compared to the back-to-school traffic in 2011. That year, foot traffic declined 5.1% from 2010.

In recent years, back-to-school shoppers had focused on stores with the best values. But with this positive consumer sentiment, shoppers may be more willing to “shop around” at more stores – not just the value locations – thus adding to the increased foot traffic and sales.

“On the whole, more people feel better about their financial situation than they did last year in August,” said Martin. “Parents are ready to spend on their children’s school necessities.

The consumers will be browsing. In order to seize this opportunity, smart retailers must prepare their marketing and operations to increase their foot traffic, sales and ultimately, their shopper conversion rates.”

The expected increases in August reflect the U.S. economy’s slow but steady gains. For instance, unemployment this year is lower than it was during last year’s back-to-school time. Though consumer sentiment does not impact retail sales immediately, the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index recently reached its highest level since the beginning of the recession. The last time consumer sentiment was as high as it was in May 2013 was in September 2007.

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News

CVS and Boston Red Sox honor disabled military vets

BY CSA STAFF

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS and the Boston Red Sox teamed up at Fenway Park to hold a special batting camp for veterans from across New England. The event celebrated the Fourth of July and honored disabled military veterans.

Through the CVS Caremark Baseball Camp, the veterans received all-star treatment at Fenway Park — working closely with Boston Red Sox hitting coach Greg Colbrunn and assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez, taking swings at the Green Monster and enjoying lunch in the Red Sox dugout. The veterans also were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the ballpark, as well as tickets to the evening’s game against the San Diego Padres, courtesy of CVS Caremark, in the CVS/pharmacy Family section.

The veterans who participated in the special day at Fenway Park were invited by CVS Caremark through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs New England Adaptive Sports Program. The program operates through the VA Boston Healthcare System.

“Creating this special opportunity at Fenway Park is one small way we can honor area military veterans for their service to our country, and we’re excited to celebrate Independence Day with them,” stated Eileen Howard Boone, SVP corporate communications and community relations for CVS Caremark. “It’s heartwarming to see these brave men and women enjoying a day of fun, camaraderie and one of America’s favorite pastimes. This is our third season of partnering with the Red Sox on this initiative for veterans, and we’re thrilled to offer them this unique opportunity to spend a day in the life of a major league ballplayer.”

Over the years, CVS Caremark has provided charitable support to military and veteran-focused organizations, including the National Guard, Fisher House, Operation Military Embrace and the USO. The company has also worked with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program to identify and hire veterans, and has established a colleague resource group for veterans — called Valor — within CVS Caremark.

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