Record-Setting Activity Brings New Retailers and Restaurants to Columbia

Key Takeaways

  • Columbia, South Carolina’s retail market continued to improve and grow through 2015 as retailers and developers invested in the market.
  • Developers and retailers are turning to new construction and redevelopments to meet the significant demand for space.
  • Rental rates are on the rise, specifically for junior anchor and shop space, which are in greatest demand.
  • Total gross retail sales in the area is up over previous years.

Construction Activity is at its Highest Level in Years

Retailers are investing in the Columbia, South Carolina market, opening their first locations or expanding their presence within the market.   Strong interest in the area and demand for space are collectively contributing to declining vacancy rates and limited quality options for space.  Additionally, retailers are expressing a desire to locate at specific intersections or in certain retail corridors, placing additional stress on the existing inventory.  

The vacancy rate was down to 8.5% at year-end 2015 from 8.7% the previous year.  The limited change in vacancy is misleading as many retailers are preleasing space in planned and newly constructed shopping centers.  Also, a majority of the retail space remaining vacant is located in older shopping centers.  As a result, the market witnessed a wave of new construction and redevelopment as developers sought to meet the growing demand for retail space.  Retailers are expanding at high velocity given the improving economy and increased consumer spending, driving the greatest level of construction seen in recent years.  Land costs along primary retail corridors are skyrocketing, and consequently many developers are renovating older, but well-located, retail space.  Development has been widespread throughout the market with almost every submarket seeing activity.

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