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Retail vacancy rates decline, according to study

BY HBSDEALER Staff

An annual report by Marcus and Millichap, a real estate investment and brokerage firm, showed a drop in the nationwide vacancy rate for retail properties, from 10.2% last year to the current 10%, according to an article in the San Diego Union

The Encino, Calif.-based company forecasted 64 million sq. ft. of retail space will be under construction in 2011, double that of 2010. 

“The tide has begun to turn,” the report said, thanks to monthly retail sales at $275 billion at the end of 2010, after excluding autos and gas. The authors called this benchmark breakthrough “a critical bellwether of consumer demand.”

But it noted there is still an excess of store space in many markets, and increasing sales aren’t high enough to raise rents for retail space. No change in rental rates were predicted nationally until 2012.  

In terms of retail rankings, Marcus & Millichap kept Washington, D.C., at the top of its National Retail Index, with New York City and San Diego in second and third place. The list is based on retail vacancies, rental rates, population growth, employment and other factors. Several California cities occupy spaces on the Top 10 list because restrictive land-use policies control supply and keep vacancies low. 

The bottom 10 were also consistent over the last two years: Jacksonville, Fla; Cleveland; Detroit; Cincinnati; Las Vegas; Sacramento, Tucson, Ariz.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Indianapolis; and Phoenix placed in the bottom 10 of the National Retail Index.  

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Readers respond: Housing mortgage market reform

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Obama administration released its housing "white paper," which advocates big changes in the U.S. mortgage markets. One change: wind down the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  

"After the revelations of the last couple of years, it appears that Fannie and Freddie were nothing more that a giant slush fund for the political party in power. Getting rid of it sound like a good move. But after the smoke clears, I think all will be the same people, same polices, same buildings, same, same, same — oh, a NEW SIGN, and that will be all that’s new."
— JRS

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Government data show retail sales rising

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The U.S. Census Bureau announced this morning that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for January were $381.6 billion on a seasonally adjusted basis. That’s an increase of 0.3% from the previous month, and up 7.8% compared with January 2010. 

Total sales for the November 2010 through January 2011 period were up 7.6% from the same period a year ago.

Looking specifically at NAICS classification 444 — Building material & garden equipment & supplies dealers — advanced sales for January were $24.227 billion; that’s down 2.9% from December’s figure, but up 9.3% from the same month last year.

The Advance Monthly Sales report also revealed general retail trade sales were up 0.5% from December 2010, and 8.3% above last year. Auto and other motor vehicle dealers sales were up 16.7% from January 2010 and non-store retailers sales were up 13.5% from last year. 

All the figures above are adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes.

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