High Spenders

(retail spending patterns and gross leasable area/shopping center indices)

Source: The Nielsen Co.

This chart ranks the 68 U.S. counties that demonstrate both higher-than-average concentrations of consumers age 55 to 74 and retail spending that is above the national average. The index numbers reflect the relative concentration of shopping centers and gross leasable area of retail space per person in each county.  Given the high proportion of consumers 55 to 74 in the top 68 counties, owners should consider stores and product types that appeal to people in that age bracket.

Counties where inventories of centers and/or retail space are below average may be especially likely to offer opportunities for leasing. In those locations, existing centers may benefit from expansion of store categories that are under-retailed.  Locations where retail square footage or the number of centers is below average may also provide selected opportunities for new development or for expansion of existing centers.  For instance, Clallam County, Wash., posted a two-year growth rate of 8.2 percent, but its leasable area and shopping center count rank well below the U.S. average.

As for counties with high index numbers, those locations have a higher-than-average number of centers and/or retail inventory and tend to be saturated. For example, Westmoreland County, Pa.—part of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area—has a 6.7 percent retail spending growth, plus a gross leasable area index of 404 (four times the national index) and a shopping center count that is nearly three times the index (298).

That, in turn, suggests a lower likelihood of new development.  Attractive demographics have likely drawn stores to these counties and created a high density of retail. Assuming that stores in these densely retailed counties are productive, retail assets may be attractive candidates for investment. This may also be true for another reason:  A high retail inventory may discourage further development and create a barrier to new entrants. That would further increase the value of a high-performance asset to a buyer.