After a tsunami of store closing announcements during the first half of the year, experts forecast that the remainder of 2015 will be relatively quiet as retailers focus on getting through the holiday season. However, retailers will continue to shutter stores throughout the year as leases expire.
Foreign investment in U.S. properties is accelerating, and despite the complexities and challenges of owning retail real estate, international money is eyeing this sector. But these investors aren’t making the leap into retail real estate alone; most are partnering with U.S. firms.
Rents in Manhattan’s famous shopping districts are among the priciest in the world—so pricey, in fact, that many retailers and restaurants have been forced to abandon them in favor of less expensive locales.
Retailers across the nation are rightsizing their bricks-and-mortar stores, driven by several factors, including omni-channel, showrooming, improved inventory management and the desire to expand into urban environments.
Competition in the cutthroat grocery business is heating up even more. Whole Foods Market Inc. announced a new value-oriented concept targeted toward Millennial shoppers, touting it as “unlike anything that currently exists in the marketplace.”
Macy’s Inc. has dipped its toe in the off-price business with four pilot stores in metro New York City. The stores, which will operate under the Macy’s Backstage banner, will average about 30,000 sq. ft. They will open this fall.
Eager to deploy their funds, private equity firms are investing in restaurants and retailers. The way they approach these deals is changing, however. PE firms are increasingly focused on lease obligations as they look to maximize their investments.
In the net lease world, Walgreens has ranked as the most desirable retail asset for decades. Investors like the chain’s dominant position, long-term leases, and investment grade credit. The recent announcement that Walgreens plans to close 200 U.S. stores won’t diminish investor interest, but it will compel investors to be more thorough in their due diligence, net lease experts say.
Century 21 Department Stores continues to expand outside its New York metro footprint. Following its fall 2014 opening in Philadelphia, the chain recently inked a lease for an 85,000-sq.-ft. store in Sawgrass Mills in South Florida. The new location will be the first outside of the Northeast when it debuts in fall 2016.
This year marks the first of the oncoming “wave of CMBS maturities” for vintage 10-year loans originated from 2005 to 2007. More than $300 billion in loans are due to mature over the next three years, according to Trepp LLC, and nearly 30 percent of the maturing balance will come from loans backed by retail properties.
The clock continues to wind down on the deadline for The Macerich Co. to either accept or reject Simon Property Group Inc.'s best and final offer to acquire all outstanding shares of Macerich for $95.50.