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Report: Retail vacancy rate holding steady

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New Jersey’s retail vacancy rate remained steady at 7.8 percent, according to a year-end report by The Goldstein Group, a real estate brokerage firm based in Paramus. The survey, which covered more than 4,250 properties on 22 retail corridors in North and Central Jersey, showed retail vacancies were about the same as they were in mid-2012.

Chuck Lanyard, president of The Goldstein Group, said the results of the survey are encouraging, considering places such as Nevada have vacancy rates of more than 10 percent.

“The numbers really don’t tell the whole story,” he said. “Not a lot of big-box stores have come available like they did in past years. People are feeling a little better about job retention and that’s reflective in that they keep shopping, albeit with a little caution.”

Lanyard said well-established brands, such as Home Goods, Panera Bread, Five Guys and Planet Fitness, continue to expand throughout New Jersey. Many others, such as Miller’s Ale House, Hobby Lobby and Fairway Market, have opened or are planning new locations in the state.

“New Jersey has no shortage of retailers wanting to take advantage of its strong demographics, which is near the top nationally,” Lanyard said. “Businesses that wouldn’t come to New Jersey in part because of high rents are now coming because deals are attainable.”

The market is still recovering slowly from the downturn that hit retailers in 2008 and 2009. Many large blocks of space occupied by Barnes & Noble, Staples, A&P and Electronics Expo are becoming vacant, but they’re being filled by companies such as Whole Foods, ShopRite and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Restaurants, frozen yogurt shops and convenience stores are growing, as are medical offices located in strip malls. Big-box stores such as Costco and BJ’s Wholesale are also expanding their presence in New Jersey.

“We expect this moderate pace of growth to continue throughout 2013 as much of the recession’s impact on the retail marketplace is appearing to be behind us,” Lanyard said. “We are still dealing with pockets of vacancies that remain due to past retail bankruptcies, but New Jersey’s attractiveness as a retail market has made it more resilient than most major markets.”

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