The 2014 ICSC event in Las Vegas has successfully wrapped up, and initial reports are that the retail industry is poised for continued expansion. The attendance was up from last year with the attendee count reaching close to 40,000. Having experienced the last 5 years of our annual convention during the economic downturn, this year was a welcome change. It was encouraging to see people spending their time talking about what is going on for the future and reviewing new sites. Discussing business. Not the past.
The ominous cloud that has darkened many markets for the past five years has appeared to have lifted. Looking around the convention hall there were site plans on every table, conversations were about new deals as retailers and developers are preparing for a measured expansion in the coming years.
Velocity Retail Group a member of X Team International, a network of experienced retail partners throughout North America. With over 35 offices and 400 professionals we are able to understand the market from a global perspective. Some states such as Texas, California and Florida have strong growth and are back to their pre-recession activity level. This is contrasted by a few other markets that are still feeling the economic effects of recent years.
In the Phoenix market we still have a ways to go, but we are finally rebounding with several economic indicators pointing toward positive growth. Forbes magazine projected Arizona to have the fastest job growth at 3% annually over the next five years, and Moody’s Analytics forecasted Arizona to expand to a U.S. best of 4.6% annual economic growth. A myriad of retailers and restaurants are opening their first stores in the Phoenix area with several more exploring future expansion plans.
The retail market is frozen no more. Phoenix vacancy rates continue to improve, and should finally break back into the single-digits by the beginning of 2015. In fact at that time, most of the retail submarkets in Phoenix except for the Central and Southeast Valley will be considered to be in a healthy position. The big-box sector, with 265 vacant big boxes will continue to be a source of concern. Our company has invested in new technologies, resources, and personnel. We are prepared for the next wave, and are expecting a big one.