Retail has been decimated over the past few months as COVID-19 lockdowns all but halted bricks-and-mortar retail activity around the country. This is on top of a notable shift from bricks-and-mortar to online shopping over the years. Massive household brands including Neiman Marcus, J. Crew, Pier One Imports and JC Penny have declared bankruptcy. Some will maintain a solid percentage of their retail presence while re-arranging debt, but many will be closed forever. Around 9,300 retail stores closed in 2019 before Covid-19 and the recent looting that has left thousands of retail stores boarded up and shuttered.
In 2018, the U.S. retail industry generated $5.3 trillion in sales, almost triple since 1992 when it was $1.8 trillion. The largest category within retail is automotive, with $1.3 trillion in sales. Food and beverage stores are next, at $746 billion. Retail sales make up nearly 50% of personal consumption, which in turn accounts for nearly 70% of GDP. The USA dedicates about 23.5 sf per consumer, while the UK has just 4.6sf per consumer. The U.S. retail industry directly employs about 29 million people and supports more than 42 million jobs. Do I have your attention yet?
The retail component to our cities, towns and neighborhoods - especially the smaller independently owned entities - are a vital part of the fabric of our communities. We need to do everything we can to support and protect them. As real estate professionals we should never underestimate how impactful we personally can be in supporting local retailers......so today, I am literally BEGGING each and everyone reading this to go out and support a local retailer today. Especially if you have the means to do so. Yes, clicking a button online does drive retail too, and it's impossible to stop evolution, but knowing the data above should incentivize anyone and everyone to support local retailers that support and enhance ALL real estate and communities everywhere.
Saving is responsible. Being prepared for tough times is smart. Supporting your neighbors - including retailers - is critically important too. Retail's impact on jobs, GDP, and yes, real estate valuations, is priceless.