CoStar Group Inc., one of the main providers of commercial real estate data in the office and industrial sectors, in January embarked on a major expansion into the retail industry. The company plans to build its database to 270,000 properties by the end of 2005 with the help of NRB, the publishers of the Shopping Center Directory, which CoStar has acquired from Claritas for $4.1 million.

“We believe there are 500,000 freestanding retail properties in the U.S. … By the end of 2006, we plan to have a fully comprehensive retail database,” says Mark Klionsky, senior vice president for CoStar. CoStar's entrance into retail will expand its competition with REIS Inc., which also provides data on the office, industrial and retail sectors. Prior to the NRB deal, CoStar tracked 72,000 retail properties with 3.3 billion square feet of space. REIS, meanwhile, provides coverage of the retail sector in 80 markets, but only neighborhood and community centers. It also compiles its data through sampling, rather than building a database of all existing properties.