Retail Repositioning Continues.

The Columbia, South Carolina, retail market remained stable during the first half of the year with a vacancy of 9.45% at mid-year 2011. While vacancy rates remained relatively unchanged during the first two quarters, there was substantial activity occurring in the market including the repositioning of many tenants and several announcements that new tenants were entering the market.    

As noted at year-end 2010, vacancies in retail corridors created by the previous economic downturn have allowed large users to relocate to space that would previously have been outside of their economic reach. New examples of this trend in 2011 include the expansion of Goodwill into anchor space at Fashion Place on Decker Boulevard, SteinMart executing an agreement on the former Goody’s space on Bower Parkway (Harbison) and the relocation of the Radio Shack in Cayce/West Columbia.  

The most significant activity occurring during the first six months of the year was among big box users, with 140,000 square feet of large vacant space being absorbed. This activity can be attributed to both the adaptive reuse of big boxes and the previously mentioned absorption of big box space in prime retail corridors. In Northeast Columbia, Richland County purchased Decker Mall for conversion to an administration annex. This bodes well for future health of the Decker Corridor, which has struggled in recent years, as it not only removes vacant space from the market but the purchase will also increase the daytime population in the area.

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