Retail Market Overview

The retail market in Columbia, South Carolina surpassed the 10 million square feet mark in 2005 with the expansion of the Village at Sandhill in Northeast Columbia. The market absorbed 116,200 square feet over the second half of 2005, bringing annual absorption to 616,000 square feet. Year-end occupancy fell slightly to 91.65% due to remaining vacancies in new construction and vacant big boxes in weaker submarkets.

Newly constructed space commanded a premium rental rate due to increased construction and landlord costs. Coupled with low availability in prime retail areas, this pushed the average quoted rental rates up to $12.86 per square foot. This was an increase from $12.39 per square foot at mid-year 2005 and $12.14 per square foot at year-end 2004. As utility costs continued to rise, landlord’s allowable pass throughs increased from $2.24 per square foot at mid-year to $2.61 per square foot at year-end.

Forecast

Columbia’s retail economy continued to perform well over 2005, but rising energy costs and increased interest rates on credit cards may quell consumer spending in 2006. Gas prices may reduce extra shopping trips and a value-conscious consumer will be more inclined to shop at discount stores. Any new retail developments are expected to follow population growth, with both the Northeast and Lexington submarkets drawing the most attention. As Columbia’s consumer remains value oriented, national discount stores such as Wal-Mart and Target will possibly expand their presence. Wal-Mart recently announced a new location on Bush River Road and will likely follow the growing population of Northeast Columbia in 2006.

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