RBC Capital Markets, along with Retail Lease Trac, has begun to track retailer store opening plans for as many companies for which the firms can compile data. The research shows that the 2,000 retailers the firms are tracking plan to open 64,926 stores over the next 24 months. That is down 5.7 percent year-to-date from a high of 68,854 that the firms counted in January.

The firm planning the greatest number of openings in the next 24 months is Quiznos. The other top 25 expanding retailers can be viewed in the accompanying chart.

According to RBC's report, "We feel it is important to emphasize that, as the data below suggests, retailers continue to open stores even in difficult times. Shopping preferences will change with the times, with the health of the economy, with the availability of credit, and with the consumer's confidence. Each evolution of retailing will see new winners, but the successful concepts will still seek the best real estate where shopper traffic is highest and the retail experience the best."

By category, family apparel showed a strong increase in the recent report—up 557 planned openings in comparison with earlier data. The jump is due in part to the addition of Zara in the database, which is planning on opening 450 stores in the next 24 months. Notable increases in planned store openings by category come from gift/specialty, family apparel, and lingerie. Decreases in planned store openings by category are led by coffee shops, children's apparel, cameras/video equipment.