NEW JERSEY—Levin Management has released its annual mid-year retail survey, which indicated positive changes compared to the company’s 2011 mid-year retail survey.

Following Memorial Day, Levin Management polled store managers within its 90-property, 12.5 million-sq.-ft. shopping center portfolio in a range of market areas. Approximately 250 participated.

At mid-year 2012, 64.2 percent of respondents reported the same or higher sales volume compared to this time last year; 35.7 percent reported lower sales. At mid-year 2011, 50.1 percent of respondents reported the same or higher sales; 49.8 percent reported lower sales.

At mid-year 2012, 62.9 percent of respondents said traffic is the same or higher than at this time last year; 36.9 percent said that fewer consumers are visiting stores. At mid-year 2011, only 50.4 percent of respondents reported the same or higher traffic; 49.4 percent said that traffic was slower.

“This is real, tangible progress,” said Matthew K. Harding, Levin Management’s president and chief operating officer. “Last year, we saw a 50/50 split. Half our tenants were experiencing satisfactory sales performance, and the other half had discouraging sales and store traffic. While 2012’s results show we still have a way to go, the numbers clearly have gotten better.”

Hiring and expansion plans within Levin’s tenant base follow this positive trajectory. Although retail employment growth has been modest, 26.2 percent of survey respondents reported increasing staff since January 1, 2012, and 36.1 percent expect to hire more employees in the next six months.

Generally, Levin Management’s mid-year 2012 survey captured a general feeling of optimism among retail tenants, according to Harding. More than nine out of 10 respondents (91.4 percent) feel that the second half of 2012 will see sales remain at the same level or improve; only 8.5 percent expect sales to decrease.

In addition to questions about sales, traffic and employment, Levin Management also polled tenants about the impact of Internet sales on business. According to the report, 60.6 percent of responders reported no effect, while 26.8 percent said the Internet was a positive influence. Only 12.5 percent said that e-commerce is having a negative impact on store sales.