Report: Southern New Hampshire retail market bouncing back

9.1 percent real estate vacancy is best since 2008


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'Given the current backdrop of the retail industry and innuendos of a retail apocalypse, things weren’t so bad in southern New Hampshire in 2017. In fact, they were pretty good,' says Bob Sheehan, vice president of research at KeyPoint Partners.

The retail real estate market in southern New Hampshire is showing signs of improvement, according to the KeyPoint Partners’ annual overview of the region.

In fact, the Burlington, Mass.-based KeyPoint’s Report for Southern New Hampshire 2017 paints a picture of a market bouncing back somewhat.

The report, which examines supply, occupancy, absorption and retailer expansion and contraction for virtually every retail property in the region, finds:

 • The vacancy rate was 9.1 percent, an improvement from 10.5 percent in 2016

 • Total retail real estate inventory in the region was 29.8 million square feet, a decline of 59,400 square feet, or 0.2 percent

 • Mattress Firm was the retailer adding the most new space in the region, by way of its acquisition of the Sleepy’s chain.

 • Amusement & Recreation Facilities and Hobby, Toy & Game stores led all retail categories in added square footage, with Health & Fitness leading in expansion by number of new locations.

 • The Family Apparel category closed the most square footage in the region, contracting by 53,800 square feet.

“Given the current backdrop of the retail industry and innuendos of a retail apocalypse, things weren’t so bad in southern New Hampshire in 2017. In fact, they were pretty good,” said Bob Sheehan, vice president of research at KeyPoint.

Sheehan said that long-idle big box spaces found users. “In the 40,000-plus square-foot category, prospects are few and far between. But the stars aligned, and new tenants absorbed, at least partially, a Walmart box, Shaw’s, Market Basket, Lowe’s, Hannaford and Sports Authority.

Sheehan said that some of the “new players” entering the region via the vacant units are Chunky’s, Ocean State Job Lot, Cardi’s Furniture, NH1 Motorplex Indoor Karting, Cowabunga’s, Hobby Lobby, Boston Interiors, Party City, Petco and Guitar Center.

“Together these tenants reduced vacant space in the region by 346,600 square feet – a remarkable feat in one year,” said Sheehan.

He added that the 9.1 percent southern New Hampshire retail vacancy rate is the lowest since 2008, when the figure stood at 7.4 percent.

The report also finds no change in the largest regional markets. Nashua remains first with 6.3 million square feet of inventory; Manchester follows at 5.3 million square feet; and Salem is third at 3.9 million square feet. Seabrook and Bedford follow with 2.0 million square feet and 1.5 million square feet, respectively.

Among towns with at least 500,000 square feet of retail space, Salem remains on top of the ranking for lowest vacancy rate, at 5.7 percent, followed by Derry and Hudson.

Manchester had the highest vacancy rate, 13.2 percent, although it is down significantly from last year’s 16 percent.

In Seabrook, the rate precipitously from a year ago, when it had the highest in the region, at 17.8 percent. The latest report pegs the vacancy rate at 9.4 percent.

For a copy of the report, visit keypointparters1.com.

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