Retail real estate going strong – or is it?

by Jamie Henry24 Nov 2014
The often-forgotten retail real estate sector contributed $6.9 billion to the Canadian economy in 2013, a new report says, but retail-focused agents aren’t quite so optimistic for the coming year.
“There are always stores available for lease, generally speaking,” says Barry Skylar, a broker with High Point Realty. “There [seems to be] more stores on the market right now than there has been. It’s just slower taking them up [because] there’s a certain hesitation in the economy.”
Skylar points to the increasing popularity of online shopping, reducing the need – and the budget – for brick-and-mortar spaces that many smaller boutique shops once relied on.
“The whole economy is not in the best shape, not just retailers,” Skylar says. “The influence of online shopping [is impacting the market], so people are price conscience.”
Still, the report said $4.7 billion was spent on new construction in 2013, possibly lending to a slower 2014, while the remaining $2.2 billion was spent renovations and upgrades.
Another $2 billion total was generated via building management fees and commercial brokerage fees. On average, the retail real estate segment contributes $18.3 billion to the economy each year, by supporting some 97,700 jobs, and by generating $6 billion in income, $3.9 billion in corporate profits and $2.2 billion in tax revenues.
"As a real estate asset class there is no better investment than really great retail and you will continue to see smart owners enhance and reinvest in these assets," said Blake Hutcheson, president and CEO of Oxford Properties Group, in a press release. "This is what our tenants and customers want and the payback is convincing for both owners and the economy at large."

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