Article submitted by Carmen R. Austin, MBA, CCIM, Associate Broker and Retail Specialist for Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate

Written by Donna Mitchell | January 19, 2017

This holiday shopping season seemed to be a decent one for the retail sector, with the Thomson Reuters Same-Store Sales Index posting a 2.4 percent increase for December, above expectations.

Healthy same-store sales growth notwithstanding, there is a storm passing over the retail sector. Going into the New Year, Macy’s, Sears, Kmart and Kohl’s among department stores, all announced disappointing results, adding that store closings would follow. Specialty stores including The Limited, Wet Seal and American Apparel also turned in poor sales numbers. Closings among those retailers alone number well past 1,000 as companies face the inevitable: consumers’ shopping habits had changed and they simply cannot count on business longevity with large fleets of brick-and-mortar stores.

Poor sales and shuttered locations is a familiar story that helped define much of 2016 for many retail chains. Tempered expectations should follow the retail sector into the New Year. In an update to its World Economic Outlook, the IMF forecasted that the U.S. could attain economic growth of 2.3 percent and 2.5 percent for 2017 and 2018, respectively, as a result of the policies of president-elect Donald Trump. It would be an improvement over the 1.6 percent that the U.S. achieved in 2016. How much of that growth, however, will positively impact the U.S. retail sector?

If companies were looking forward to a more positive story with the turning of the calendar, they might have to wait a bit longer. We took a look at five trends that will drive the retail property sector in 2016, and found that issues related to sluggish sales and store closings will continue to challenge retailers.

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Carmen R. Austin, MBA, CCIM has been a practicing commercial real estate broker since 2001. She is a graduate of the Louisiana State University (LSU) E.J Ourso College of Business and the LSU Flores Masters of Business Administration (MBA) Program with a specialization in Entrepreneurship and Real Estate Finance. Her experience includes past employment as Regional Director of Leasing at Commercial Properties Realty Trust the for-profit arm of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. Carmen’s affiliations include Louisiana REALTORSGreater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors Commercial Investment Division, International Council of Shopping CentersCommercial Real Estate Women,Certified Commercial Investment Member Institute, National Association of REALTORS, and Urban Land Institute. She is also an active volunteer on the Board of Directors for the Baton Rouge GalleryLSU MBA Alumni AssociationJunior Achievement of Baton Rouge, and the Junior League of Baton Rouge. Carmen is a graduate of the Jay W. Levine Leadership Development Academy Class of 2011 and served as the 2010 President of the Louisiana CCIM Chapter. Carmen currently serves on the National CCIM Institute Board of Directors and the CCIM Institute Education Foundation Board of Directors.

Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate is a member of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce (BRAC); the West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce; the Baton Rouge Better Business Bureau; the Louisiana Commercial Data Base (LACDB); and the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). Several agents, on an individual basis, are members of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors® (SIOR), the Certified Commercial Investment Member Institute (CCIM); the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR); and the Greater Baton Rouge Association of REALTORS® Commercial Investment Division (CID).