How Shoppers Got Their
Like Northern Plains settlers stepping out of their cabins after a snowbound winter, consumers are treating the first signs of spring in the economy as an occasion for driving to stores and prying their wallets open just a little
wider than they had since the depths of the recession. “Everyone
has come to the realization that the worst is over,” says Tom Swieca,
an SVP with Voit Real Estate Services in Ontario, CA. “Consumer
confidence is improving from the depths of what it was in 2008.”
Given that consumer spending comprises about 70% of the economy, it bodes well that shoppers are now more willing to shop.
you look at the euro zone, it’s pretty bad,” he says. “They’re in
another recession, they’re going backwards, there’s no job creation.”
By contrast to European banks, which the International Monetary
Fund now says may be forced to sell off $3.8 trillion in assets over the
next 18 months, US lenders are mainly on the upswing. Mason says
general economic growth here has been “in lockstep” with that
trend. Consumer spending is no exception.
But April’s retail sales gains were underwhelming after a comparatively strong showing in February and March. The International
Council of Shopping Centers said earlier this month that April same-store sales for chains rose 0.6% on a year-over-year basis compared
with a 4.1% rise in March. However, ICSC says this falloff can be
attributed in part to a late Easter and cooler weather, and that when
March and April tallies are bundled together, the results are in line
with the slow, steady improvement that’s characterized this recovery.
The fact remains that the sector has now seen 22 consecutive
months of year-over-year sales increases, according to the National
Retail Federation. Accordingly, occupied retail space increased by
2.96 million square feet during the first quarter, up more than 400%
from the prior year, according to research firm Reis. Q1 also marked
the first quarterly decline in retail vacancy since 2005, Reis says.
The improving fundamentals have worked in favor of shopping