Charleston Continues to Grow in the National Spotlight

Key Takeaways

  • Charleston’s King Street, a nationally ranked top shopping destination, continued to attract new retailers and restaurants including H&M and Lush Cosmetics, in addition to several new culinary hot spots.
  • Increased activity in retail development and redevelopment has occurred as occupancy rates trended upward over the past year.
  • Steady job creation and improved market conditions in the commercial office and industrial sectors contributed to the rise in retail occupancy rates.
  • More retail to come: As proposed multi-use developments come online, they will bring complimentary shop space on the ground floors of apartment and office buildings in addition to dining options.
  • Increased activity from grocers exploring the market to identify potential sites in growth opportunity submarkets.
  • Let’s go Krogering. Kroger’s recent purchase of Harris Teeter could affect seven locations in Charleston.

Market Recap

Charleston’s retail market continued to improve at mid-year 2013. More new national retailers and restaurants opened locations and/or announced plans to enter the market including H&M, Steak ‘n Shake and Bonefish Grill. For the first time in five years, grocers explored the market for potential new sites. Southern Season, a destination for specialty foods and products, is expanding into the Charleston market and will open a 44,000 SF grocery store in Mount Pleasant late summer 2013. Regional grocer, Harris Teeter, was recently purchased by Kroger which will impact seven Charleston stores.

Improvement and increased activity in the retail market can be attributed to the region’s job growth, booming residential market and strong tourism industry. Companies in Charleston’s aerospace, manufacturing, technology and medical technology sectors announced expansions which will bring more jobs to the area benefiting the Suburban retail markets.

Unemployment rates continued to trend downward; currently at 6.4% at mid-year 2013 from 8.6% at year-end 2012. Home sales are up with a reported 22% increase in home prices during the first half of the year according to the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors. Robust home sales coupled with lower inventory levels have put upward pressure on prices as evidenced by the double-digit gains. Tourism remained a key driver in Charleston’s retail market, specifically Downtown, as more people experience the ‘No. 1 City in the World.’

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