Richmond’s retail market has been healthy, with vacancies compressing since 2011 and closely tracking the national average. Metro rents have shown shown incredible growth this year, increasing by more than 4.5% as of early September—by far the strongest growth this cycle. Sales have not followed suit, though, with roughly $151 million recorded this year, compared with $312 million in 2017.

Retail demand can at least partially be attributed to Richmond's rapid growth. Employment growth is among the strongest in the country, thanks to the business-friendly environment. Job creation resulted in 6% population growth from 2010–15 and has led to median household income above the national average.

Popular shopping locales in Richmond have traditionally been within the beltway but outside of the downtown area, focusing on densely populated, affluent areas like Midlothian and Short Pump. However, the influx of young professionals looking for jobs and a low cost of living could lead to a fundamental change in fast-growing retail corridors. It has caused a migration that highlights the expansion of Richmond’s true “downtown” area east, west, and south of its CBD, which could lead to retail growth in core Richmond neighborhoods like Manchester, Scott’s Addition, the Fan, and Church Hill/East End in addition to the CBD.

Manchester, Scott’s Addition, and the East End haven’t experienced much retail growth over the past 10 years, but they are some of the most rapidly changing neighborhoods. The inflow of young professionals paired with the reurbanization taking place nationwide has led to explosive multifamily development since 2010, which bodes well for retail demand. Additionally, the construction pipeline indicates that developers are being conservative and avoiding speculative building, which could continue to aid growth.

Construction is down from this cycle’s peak, but development continues in high-income areas like the western and northwestern suburbs, where population and income growth are high relative to rates in the overall metro.