Location, location, location has always been an essential mantra for small retailers. And today, as physical retail locations are still in recovery mode from the now two-year-old COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever.
Retail Wire recently reported that “Open-air shopping centers—also known as strip malls and strip centers—are leading retail’s real estate recovery,” building on the momentum seen before the pandemic.
They cited an article in The Wall Street Journal that reports CBRE data shows “Landlords filled 17 million square feet of open-air shopping centers during the third quarter of 2021, which is a 49% increase from 2019 and a 10-year high for net absorption.
And another report, JLL’s Retail Recovery, says strip centers lead the bounce back in rents and vacancy. It says, “Open-air centers, particularly those with essential tenants like grocery and drug stores, have performed consistently better since 2020.” And it added that malls, already on the decline before the onset of COVID, “saw an accelerated performance decline.”
If you’re on the lookout for a new location for your retail store, Retail Wire notes that “open-air shopping centers, whether big or smaller neighborhood locales, often benefit from being anchored by grocers.” They add that big box stores have become “stronger traffic drivers.”
Another factor that added to the appeal of open-air shopping centers is the explosion of curbside pickup. Retail Wire says it’s easier for both customers and retailers to pull off at open-air centers than at enclosed malls.
As more Americans moved to the suburbs during the pandemic, traffic at these outdoor shopping centers grew, making them even more attractive for small retailers.