In an encouraging sign for the retail sector, store openings plans in the U.S. continue to climb up. According to the just released National Retailer Demand Monthly report from RBC Capital Markets, store opening plans reported during 2012 reached a five-year high. In December alone, the more than 2,000 retailers included in the RBC survey increased their opening projections by 886 stores. Overall, as of January 2013, those retailers plan on opening 81,990 new stores during the next two years—an increase of 1.1 percent compared to December 2012.

“With a strong year-end performance on the sales front that saw year-over-year retail sales increase 3.9 percent in November and an estimated 4.4 percent in December, we would expect the store opening momentum to continue into 2013,” wrote RBC Capital Markets analyst Rich Moore. He added: “Importantly, in our view, current retailer optimism is led by many retailers from the small shop segment. Unlike past cycles, where the entrepreneurial, mom and pop owner was the primary contributor to the growth of small shop space, we believe small shop tenancy has shifted to well-capitalized, national retailers.”

To read the full report, click here.