RBC Capital Markets, along with Retail Lease Trac, have updated their research on retailer planned store openings and found that the tide may be beginning to turn when it comes to retailer demand. For the first time in more than a year, the number of planned openings in the next 24 months has increased.

The research shows that the approximately 2,000 retailers the firms are tracking plan to open 65,464 stores during the next 24 months. That’s down from a high of 71,940 that the firms said they planned to open in October 2008, but up 1.6 percent from the figure the firms calculated in December 2009.

The firm planning the greatest number of openings in the next 24 months remains Quiznos. The other top 25 expanding retailers can be viewed in the accompanying chart. (Of note, the study does not include every chain. For example, Wal-Mart, Target and Macy’s are not included in the figures.)

According to the report, “While still early in the recovery, the general sense from the landlords is that retailers have, for the most part, successfully navigated the dangerous economic environment and are now more willing to discuss expansion plans. Some landlords have even suggested that there is a renewed sense of urgency with regard to retailers hoping to capture the best locations before their competitors do. With retail bankruptcies so far tracking at a very light level for the first month of the [first quarter] bankruptcy season, retailers could quickly find increased competition for quality locations while landlords begin to regain some of the pricing power lost over the past 18 months. While we expect the road to economic recovery to be long and bumpy, these early results are encouraging.”

–David Bodamer