Retail Recovery Apparent in 2010.

The Columbia, South Carolina, retail market closely mirrored the performance of the national retail market in 2010.  As retail sales demonstrated instability during the first half of 2010 national vacancy rates increased, but a steady rise in retail sales during the last six months of the year resulted in a decline in vacancy rates at year-end 2010.  Similarly, vacancy rates in the Columbia market increased to 12.7% at mid-year 2010, but growth for the remainder of the year was substantial enough to bring vacancy rates to more normalized levels, falling below 10% at year-end 2010.  

All categories of retail space experienced significant improvements in vacancy rates from year-end 2009 to year-end 2010. Anchor space led the way with over 122,000 square feet of positive absorption, junior anchor space absorbed 40,909 square feet during the year and shop space absorbed 96,492 square feet of space.  

National retailers leased the majority of the big-box space that was previously vacated during the economic downturn. Tenants such as Gold’s Gym and Best Buy in Northeast Columbia, buybuy Baby and Big Lots in Harbison/St. Andrews and Reid’s Grocery Store in Cayce executed leases in formerly vacant big-box spaces.  Despite this positive net absorption there remained a considerable amount of anchor space available at year-end 2010. It is likely that these spaces will take longer to lease than junior anchor and shop spaces as the emergence of new big-box concepts will have a critical impact on the ability to lease large blocks of space.

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