Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Retailers Better Prepared for 2010

With 2009 safely behind us, many retailers are showing greater strength and preparedness for 2010. Last years lessons have been learned well, lower overhead, better planning and a focus on value are the keys to success in this environment. Thus, whether 2010 marks the beginning of retails resurgence or simply an improvement in strategy, it looks to be a better year than 2009.

As highlighted by ICSC, discount retailers such as Target, Costco, Kohl’s and Wal-Mart all have plans to expand with new locations. The quick service restaurant industry is also set to expand with companies such as Burger King, Sonic and Panera Bread planning new store openings. Clearly the environment is conducive to the growth of value based stores. It is also forcing higher-end stores to rethink their positions; Neman Marcus and Nordstrom are now considering adding value focused offerings.

Retailers who are planning expansion are also looking at redevelopment rather than construction. With retail space experiencing heightened vacancies and lower rents, it is more economical to take advantage of existing space rather than starting new construction projects. There are exceptions to this trend, such as certain quick service restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings, who continue to expand through construction rather than redevelopment.

Though retailers have cut their teeth on the hard times of 2009 and surely step into 2010 better prepared, in the end their fate is inexorably tied to that of the consumer. Unemployment continues to hover at 10% and many do not see significant change in the future. 2010 will most likely witness a greater quantity of deals than 2009 but will not see a return to the levels of earlier years. However, in today’s brave new world, a positive trend should be taken positively.


  1. I agree with your observations for the most part, but typically after the New Year you’ll see the next wave of bankruptcies and numerous concepts will become extinct. The strong, nimble retailers will always survive in difficult times, but who will absorb all the excess space? It’s been said we’re are not over developed, but rather under demolished!

    With the looming CMBS maturities/refinance risk, and the huge amount of non-performing CRE debt on bank balance sheets there are still some stormy seas ahead! If there’s no improvement in unemployment, and we are in a jobless recovery, consumers will continue to stay in their bunkers and hold onto their discretionally income which drives retail expansion.