National retailers plotting expansions rather than closures

In a 180-degree turn from 2020, retailers’ expansion plans so far this year are outpacing planned closures, CNBC reports. 

U.S. retailers have announced 3,199 store openings and 2,548 closures year-to-date, according to a tracking by Coresight Research. For comparison, the firm recorded a whopping 8,953 closures, along with 3,298 openings last year, as the COVID-19 pandemic upended the retail industry and pushed dozens of businesses into bankruptcy.

Now, though, the country is seemingly turning a corner. The rollout of vaccines keeps ramping up, another round of stimulus checks is landing in many Americans’ bank accounts, and companies are by and large predicting a strong rebound of the consumer. The National Retail Federation forecasts U.S. retail sales could grow anywhere between 6.5% and 8.2% this year, with the economy accelerating at its fastest clip in two decades.

The real estate market, meantime, presents an opportunity in 2021 for companies looking to grow. They will likely pay less in rent and have more flexible lease terms. A glut of vacancies has left landlords more desperate to fill space and sign deals they would never have considered pre-pandemic.

“Most retailers that survived COVID-19’s early days are now looking to refill their new store opening programs,” says Bill Read, executive vice president for Retail Specialists, a brokerage firm based in the Southeast. “Demand for new stores is very robust right now. Playing catch up has everyone in a hurry up.”

See the full story, which includes details from 10 national retailers’ expansion plans.