Charleston retail rents are climbing, as vacancy is low
- The overall market vacancy is steadily declining each quarter. The Charleston retail market absorbed 52,408 square feet during the third quarter of 2018.
- Average triple net market rental rates have risen to $20.51 per square foot this quarter.
- Fast casual dining accelerates.
Fast Food Evolves to Fast Casual
The lines between full service, casual and fast food dining are blurred into a trend called fast casual dining. Due to a faster pace of living, fewer diners are interested in long four- to six-course meals, although the high quality of full service restaurants is still appealing. Fast casual dining offers fast service through counter ordering with a higher quality of food than traditional fast food venues. In addition, customers may return to see an updated seasonal menu, which is another popular aspect of fast casual dining; often, fresh, local ingredients are used in dishes when in season so the menu options remain fresh and choices are customized throughout the year. In addition, many menus offer low-carb, vegan, gluten-free or superfood options. By ordering at a counter with fresh options, customers are able to customize their orders with chef-inspired dishes and extras that are often higher in nutritional value. The counter-style restaurant reduces the need for wait staff and instead uses a process-driven model where each counter employee only needs to learn how to operate a section of the counter line in order to assist every customer. This efficient model is quick and specialized. Also, less square feet are needed for each restaurant because there is less room used for food preparation – the preparations happen as the customer orders each meal. These trendy restaurants are able to squeeze into a smaller footprint and still remain highly successful. While Charleston is often a destination spot and a hot vacation region, people may have more time for a quality dining experience; however, fast casual dining growth is accelerating. Charleston locals may welcome the fast casual trend into the region and can anticipate these restaurants popping up throughout the market as they already are throughout the U.S.
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