Retail Inventory and Vacancy: Total retail space in Greater Hartford currently totals 37.2 million square feet, a nominal increase of 70,000 square feet from last year. In today’s environment, limiting new development should be regarded as a good thing. Much of the existing vacancy needs to be filled or demolished before considerable retail space can be added to the region. Consequently, the region experienced its second year in a row of declining vacancy albeit a modest 90,800 square foot reduction in unoccupied space reflected a drop of 2.2%. Currently, the vacancy rate in the region is 11.0%, down from an 11.3% rate in 2013 and 12% in 2012.
Size Classifications: The vacancy rates in all size classifications either stayed even or declined during the year - with one exception. Seven retail tenants in the 10,000-24,999 square foot bracket closed in 2014 and remain vacant, pushing the vacancy rate from 10.1% to 10.4% in this category. Some of the casualties included Nassau’s Furniture, Monster Mini Golf, and Thomasville Furniture. For the second year in a row, smaller sizes continued to show improvement after experiencing several years of an uptrend in vacancy rates. Among the three smallest categories, retailers less than 2,500 square feet showed the largest decline in vacancy rate, going from 19.1% to 18.0%. However, the current vacancy rate in this size classification, the highest in the region, is of greatest concern.
Retailer Activity: Dollar General made its entry into Greater Hartford with six new stores, adding 62,000 square feet and taking top spot for incremental space in the region. New York-based Best Market entered the region this year with a 35,300 square foot unit in Newington, a space previously occupied by A&P. Following the acquisition of four iParty stores, Party City ended the year in third place with an additional 36,900 square feet. Closely behind was United Bank, adding 33,300 square feet - and becoming the third largest bank in Connecticut - via its acquisition of Rockville Bank. United and Dollar General also were one-two in the number of new locations with eleven and six, respectively.
As a result of the aforementioned acquisitions, it’s not surprising that Rockville Bank and iParty led the list of retailers by square foot contraction at 39,200 and 36,900 square feet, respectively. Two of the 13 Rockville locations remain vacant. Correspondingly, Rockville Bank contracted by 13 locations, the most in the region. The closing of a 30,600 square foot TJMaxx in Windsor was the third largest space decline in the region.
The KeyPoint Report examines the retail real estate marketplace for Greater Hartford, Connecticut, with a focus on changes between August 2013 and July 2013. This report provides an analysis of changes in the region's retail activity and examines supply, vacancy and absorption, retailer activity, and market composition by store size and retail categories. The Greater Hartford market includes 26 cities and towns and represents more than 835 square miles and approximately 812,200 people, equating to 22.6% of the Connecticut total population. The complete report contains much more detailed information on these categories and more, and will be available soon at KeyPointpartners.com.
Bob Sheehan, Vice President of Research
KeyPoint Partners’ GRIID™ database maintains detailed information on virtually all retail properties in three key regions: Eastern Massachusetts, Southern New Hampshire and Greater Hartford, Connecticut. These markets encompass approximately 44% of all retail space in New England. GRIID™ has information on nearly 260 million square feet of retail space and approximately 60,000 retail establishments. The KeyPoint Reports contain a summary and analysis of market trends and activity for each studied area.The KeyPoint Report for Eastern Massachusetts/Greater Boston and The KeyPoint Report for Southern New Hampshire have been released, and are available at KeyPointPartners.com.