Last Year 99 Million Square Feet of Retail Space Leased in the U.S.

Last Year 99 Million Square Feet of Retail Space Leased in the U.S.

Commercial News » Las Vegas Edition | By Michael Gerrity | January 26, 2022 8:50 AM ET

2021 recorded the most net new retail space leased since 2016

Based on new data from CBRE, the U.S. retail market bounced back significantly in 2021, recording 99 million sq. ft. of positive absorption, the highest total since 2016.

Last year's rebound signals a broader recovery for the retail market, which had posted negative net absorption in 2020. Absorption measures the net amount of square footage either leased or vacated in a given time period; A positive reading means more space was newly leased than vacated.

"The retail recovery is in full swing," said Bill Wright, Senior Managing Director and Retail Leader for CBRE. "We are seeing strong demand coupled with scant new supply, which has brought a real balance back to the market. All signs point to activity remaining very strong in 2022, as many retailers look to capitalize on the market to address increased consumer demand for physical retail."

This activity drove availability down to 5.6 percent, a 10-year low. With construction completions at their lowest level in a decade, prime spaces have become scarce. As a result, rents rose 1.6% year-over-year to $21.87 per sq. ft.

Other Retail Market Highlights Include:

  • 23.5 million sq. ft. delivered in 2021, a 36 percent decrease from 2020.
  • Power centers performed well in 2021, tying a four-year low availability rate at 6.4 percent.
  • Lifestyle & Mall was the only category to record negative absorption in 2021. Although Class A malls remain strong, lower Class B and C malls are beginning to lose tenants to open-air centers.

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