With Retail Vacancy at 9.5 Percent, Eastern Massachusetts to Continue to See the Brick-and-Mortar Fallout From the Shift Toward Online Shopping: KeyPoint Report

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Bob Sheehan

BURLINGTON, MA—With retail vacancy at 9.5 percent, Eastern Massachusetts will continue to see the brick-and-mortar fallout from the shift toward online shopping, according to a report released by Burlington, MA-based KeyPoint Partners, LLC.

This comprehensive The KeyPoint Report for Eastern Massachusetts/Greater Boston 2018 examines supply, occupancy, absorption, and retailer expansion and contraction for virtually every retail property in the region. This year’s Report features a special section of commentary and data on Malls in the region.

According to the Report, total retail real estate inventory in the region was 196.3 million square feet, a significant gain of 1.86 million square feet, or 1.0%. The vacancy rate was 9.5%, a marked increase from 2016. Wegmans was the retailer adding the most new space in the region, adding 266,200 square feet in two new stores, including a location at the Natick Mall, its first two-level store and first attached to a regional mall. The Amusement and Recreation category led all retail categories in added square footage, with Restaurants in second place. Department Stores again lost the most square footage in the region, contracting by 592,000 square feet mainly due to closings of Sears, Kmart, and Macy’s stores.

“This region continues to experience significant new development and store openings. However, Eastern Massachusetts will continue to see the brick-and-mortar fallout from the shift toward online shopping. Many retailers are forgoing physical growth to focus on efforts to enhance online shopping and compete more effectively with Amazon,” says Bob Sheehan, Vice President of Research at KeyPoint Partners. “Shopping center developers also need to adjust to the digital world, and it appears that the type of new projects we’ve seen in the region in 2018 are a reflection that caution signs have not gone unheeded.”

This year’s report includes a Special Section on Malls in the region, which includes 17 regional enclosed shopping centers. “Despite horror stories of retail apocalypse and projected mall closings, conditions for Eastern Massachusetts malls are not so dire,” Sheehan notes. “In fact, malls in this region are relatively stable compared to other parts of the country.”

The KeyPoint Report is based on KeyPoint Partners’ GRIIDÔ, a powerful source of retail market knowledge that maintains detailed information on virtually every retail property in key New England markets. The Eastern Massachusetts Report includes 189 cities and towns, representing more than 3,500 square miles (44% of Massachusetts’ land area) and approximately 5.3 million people (77% of the state population).

The complete KeyPoint Report can be accessed here or at KeyPointPartners.com. The KeyPoint Reports for Southern New Hampshire and Greater Hartford, Connecticut will follow shortly. For more information about KeyPoint Partners’ retail research capabilities and the KeyPoint GRIIDÔ contact Bob Sheehan, Vice President of Research, at BSheehan@KeyPointPartners.com or at 781.418.6248.