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Retailers Continue to Add to Expansion Pipeline

Retailers Continue to Add to Expansion Pipeline

In the latest update from RBC Capital Markets on retailer planned store openings, tenants continue to increase their projections for growth as measured by their 12-month and 24-month expansion targets. RBC, with data from Retail Lease Trac, compiles a monthly look at retailer demand for new space.

The June edition of the report—updated through May 2011—finds that retailers in its database plan to open 72,167 stores over the next 24 months. The database includes 2,200 national and regional chains, although it does not include data from some large firms, including Walmart and Target. At this point last year the 24-month expansion target by the retailers in the database was 65,291 stores. According to RBC, “May is the fourth consecutive month where retailers increased their opening plans and the eighth time out of the last nine months. Importantly, the current level of planned store openings is the highest since we began tracking the data in October 2008.”

The pace of expansion has increased 3.1 percent since December 2010 and is up 0.9 percent from the April figures.

Leading retailers in the expansion of new stores include Subway, Quiznos, Dollar General, Spirit Halloween Superstores and Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries. There are two other Halloween-themed retailers (Halloween Adventure and Halloween City) and two other dollar stores (Family Dollar and Dollar Tree) in the top 30. There are also a handful of financial tenants (Cash Store, Ace Cash Express and Chase Bank).

Subway was not part of the Retail Lease Trac database in the past, but now easily leads the field with a planned 4,000 openings in the next 24 months. That’s more than twice as many as the next closest firms, Dollar General and Quiznos, which are each planning 1,200 openings.

Retailers that have recently increased their expansion targets include Starbucks, which recently doubled its store goal from 200 to 400, and Yogurtland, which increased its target from 100 locations to 350. The only firm in the top 30 that decreased its goal was A&W Restaurants, which is planning 600 stores rather than 700.

In its monthly commentary, RBC wrote, “We recently had a chance to meet with some 60 retailers and landlords at the ICSC RECon and NAREIT REIT Week conventions. In our view, the outlet center sector emerged as the winner with strong tenant demand for space and limited space availability. Outlet center landlords are looking to meet the growing demand, but who will develop and where the new centers will be located is garnering significant interest. Turning to the regional mall sector, we believe this business has found a firm footing and vacancy will be absorbed as many retailers in this report are looking to enter new markets.”

Looked at in terms of which retailers plan to grow the most as a percentage of existing store base, Yogurtland leads the field with plans to increase its store base by 292 percent in the next 24 months. Other rapidly growing chains include Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt (217 percent), Children’s Orchard (200 percent), Randall’s-Tom Thumb (180 percent), Hallooween City (162 percent), Cash Store (161 percent) and Nutrishop (150 percent).

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