The availability rate for neighborhood, community and strip centers (NC&S) across CBRE EA’s Retail Sum of Markets was at 8.65% in Q1 2020—a slight increase from the previous quarter. That rate is 20 bps below the year-earlier figure and 435 bps below the post-recession peak of 13%.
Retail sales in February started to decline as a result of growing uncertainty in the U.S. regarding Covid-19. The February retail sales were down 0.5% from January but up 4.3% compared to the same month last year, supported by a strong job market and consumer confidence in early 2020. The retail sales figure, however, is expected to plunge drastically as states mandate “stay at home” orders and the closing of non-essential stores. The Covid-19 pandemic has also eroded consumer confidence. According to the Conference Board, Consumer confidence dropped sharply in March. The index is now 120 (March), down from 132.6 in February.
The retail availability rate increased from the previous quarter in 33 of EA’s 62 tracked markets. Baltimore, Birmingham, Salt Lake City, Philadelphia, Jacksonville, Richmond, San Diego, and Pittsburgh were among the markets where that increase was 50 bps or more. The largest decreases were recorded in Louisville and Tulsa, with declines of 50 bps or more. Year-over-year rate declines were recorded in 35 markets; some of the largest were in Bakersfield, Cincinnati, Seattle, Tulsa and Trenton. Markets like Baltimore, Charlotte, Long Island, Richmond, Sacramento, San Diego, and West Palm Beach remained 60 bps above their year-earlier availability rates.
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