South Florida's rapid population growth and rising income levels bode well for retailers and shopping center developers in 2006 and 2007. CB Richard Ellis estimates that the region's population grew by 105,451 people last year alone and personal incomes increased by an average of 5.2 percent. The state also continues to be one of the country's prime tourist destinations, adding to the number of potential shoppers.
All this translates into increased demand for retail space. According to the CB Richard Ellis South Florida Mid Year Retail Market report, vacancy rates continued to decline in Broward, Palm Beach and Dade counties in 2006 (they posted 4.7 percent, 3.6 percent and 3.4 percent vacancies respectively), while rents are on the rise. South Florida will see a significant influx of new supply in the next two years — approximately 3.99 million-square-feet of space — but the demand for new product is expected to be equally high. Several big-box retailers are considering entry into the market, including Dick's Sporting Goods and Kohl's Department Stores.