Retail Inventory and Vacancy: Total retail space in Greater Hartford currently totals 37.6 million square feet, a nominal decrease of 47,200 square feet from last year. The change is primarily attributed to a low level of new development and a number of conversions to non-retail space. The region was able to weather the Toys R Us/Babies R Us liquidation, which added more than 172,000 square feet of vacancy to the region, and at the same time benefit from the absorption of other existing vacancy, ending the year with a decline in the vacancy rate to 10.6%. This reflects a significant improvement from the past two years when the vacancy rate was stuck at 11.1%. Furthermore, the resulting absorption rate of 164,600 square feet was the strongest since 2015.
Size Classifications: During 2018 changes in vacancy rates among size classification generally show improvement in vacancy. However, the most glaring change occurred in the 25,000-49,999 square foot segment. This particular classification was impacted substantially by the store closings resulting from the Toys R Us liquidation, resulting in a jump in the vacancy rate from 2.5% in 2017 to a current level of 6.2%. The only other size classification to show an increase was the 100,000-199,999 square foot bracket, singularly impacted by the Sam’s Club closing in Manchester. Another particularly notable change this year occurred in the smallest segment, the Under 2,500 square foot classification, which experienced a decline from 17.9% to 14.9%, the strongest improvement in the region. As the largest segment of retail in Greater Hartford, this dramatic improvement had the most positive effect on the region as a whole. Also showing solid improvement was the 50,000-99,999 square foot size range, which experienced a vacancy rate decline of 240 basis points to 8.3%. This was a case of addition by subtraction following the demolitions of a vacant Showcase Cinema in East Windsor, which is earmarked for a new casino, and a former Walmart store in New Britain, now the site of a new self-storage facility.
Retailer Activity: At Home led all retailers in square footage gain this year, recently opening its first Connecticut store in Manchester. Walgreens followed, converting seven Rite Aid units to its namesake pharmacies. Burlington rounded out the top three, adding its fifth store in the region, replacing a vacant Sports Authority unit in Farmington. T-Mobile added five locations to the region and was the only retailer to add more than two locations in 2018. Roz & Ali, Dollar General, and O’Reilly Auto Parts were among numerous names to add two stores. Sam’s Club led all retailers in space contraction, closing its only store in the region in Manchester. Toys R Us followed with three store closings. Babies R Us was third, shutting down two stores. The two liquidated chains vacated a combined 172,200 square feet. Rite Aid reduced its store count by 10 locations, seven converting to Walgreens and three closing. It has two pharmacies remaining in the region which may eventually convert to Walgreens or close. Pizza Hut and Subway each closed four units.
Bob Sheehan, Vice President of Research
The KeyPoint Report examines the retail real estate marketplace for Greater Hartford, Connecticut, with a focus on changes between August 2017 and August 2018. 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. The complete report contains much more detailed information on these categories and more, and will be available soon at KeyPointpartners.com.
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 262 million square feet of retail space and nearly 60,000 retail establishments. The KeyPoint Reports contain a summary and analysis of market trends and activity for each studied area.
Read the complete 2018 KeyPoint Report on Eastern Massachusetts/Greater Boston,
including the special section on malls, available now!
AND watch for The KeyPoint Report on Southern New Hampshire, available soon!
See current and past reports at KeyPointPartners.com/Reports