Several of our staff recently attended the International City/County Managers Association’s annual conference in Montreal. One of the most frequently asked questions I answered was concerning good news in the market – and there is good news! Many economists are saying the worst of the recession is behind us with the markets steadily improving since early in the 2nd Quarter of this year. Even Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve announced this week that the recession is, “very likely over”. One of my municipal clients recently reported that although they experienced a 4% decrease in sales tax receipts from 2008 to 2009, they had a 1.9% increase in sales tax revenues from Q109 to Q209.
From a retail perspective, the bright spots continue to be those concepts with perceived value (think TJ Maxx and Kohl’s), grocery stores, and of course, discounters with general merchandise stores like Wal-Mart and Target continuing to lead the way. Mixed use also continues to be a hot item. The Southeast Real Estate Business Source recently featured three exciting projects taking place that demonstrate there is opportunity for the right project, at the right time, in the right market. Each of these projects will host significant retail space, and with the rebounding markets, these centers should be successful. As always, when recruiting retail, having a property ready for move-in is very important from a time to market standpoint. See the article http://southeastrebusiness.com/articles/SEP09/cover1.html for descriptions of these projects.
At Buxton, we have always encouraged communities – whether they are our clients or not – to be proactive in their retail approach. Progressive communities implementing true retail strategies continue to be the leaders in the attracting of new retail and redevelopment projects. Initiatives like business retention, actively working with the developers in the market, providing targeted incentives, and investigating emerging commercial opportunities are essential in this very competitive economy. Cities undertaking these types of steps now will see the benefits in coming years – especially as the market rebounds and consumers, and the retailers serving them, gain confidence in the economy.