Southern New Hampshire retail space picture looks like last year’s

KeyPoint: Vacancy rate rises slightly, but empty big boxes are filled


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When it comes to retail real estate, “despite high-profile contractions, the outlook in southern New Hampshire is by no means dire,’ says Bob Sheehan of KeyPoint Partners.

There was a very slight annual gain in total retail space in southern New Hampshire, according to a newly released report.

KeyPoint Partners, in its “KeyPoint Report for Sothern New Hampshire 2018,” found that retail inventory in the region totaled 29.8 million square feet in 2018, a negligible gain of 42,900 square feet from a year ago.

Vacancy increased 41,200 square feet, raising the vacancy rate to 9.3 percent compared to 9.1 percent in 2017.

According to the report, the higher vacancy rate can be attributed mainly to store closings involving two retail firms, Toys R Us and Walmart. Toys R Us closed four namesake stores and two Babies R Us stores, while Walmart closed two Sam’s Club units.

Offsetting the closings were retailers taken over three vacant big box spaces previously occupied by Sports Authority and taken by HomeGoods, Sierra Trading Post, Cost Plus World Market, Guitar Center, Party City and DSW.

The report found that BJ’s Wholesale Club added the most space in the region with the opening of a 108,900-square-foot location in Manchester. 

By sector, entertainment led all retail categories in added square footage with 101,700 added for the year. 

At the other end, hobby, toy and game stores closed the most space, 140,400 square feet.

The municipality with the most total retail space continues to be Nashua, with 6,412,700 square feet, followed by Manchester, with 5,572,200, Salem, with 3,880,900; Seabrook, with 1,987,300; and Bedford, with 1,523,500.

Seabrook had the highest vacancy rate, 16.3 percent, and Salem had the lowest, 6 percent.

“Despite high-profile contractions, the outlook in southern New Hampshire is by no means dire,” said Bob Sheehan, vice president at the Burlington, Mass.-based firm. “Shopping center development was at a near standstill this year, but the region has been seeing big-box vacancies, such as Toys R Us, readily absorbed by growth-minded retailers.”

He added that the region “will continue to see fallout from the shift to online shopping, tales of a retail apocalypse, as we’ve said before, are exaggerated.”

The southern New Hampshire market includes 39 cities and towns, representing more than 835 square miles and approximately 562,000 people, or 42 percent of the state’s population. 

The complete KeyPoint report accessed at KeyPointPartners.com

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