Northmarq recently unveiled its 100 Tenant Expansion Report, focusing on shopping centers and the expansion plans of retailers, restaurants and medical companies. In our conversation with Lanie Beck, she provided valuable insights from the report, discussing essential topics such as real disposable incomes, consumer habits and the state of the retail sector.
Beck notes, “Real disposable incomes, which drive consumer spending, have experienced a decline in recent months. Despite this, consumers are maintaining their spending habits, increasingly relying on credit cards and savings accounts for their purchases. However, it’s crucial to mention that we’ve observed a stagnation in real (inflation-adjusted) retail sales.”
As per Northmarq’s September economic analysis, year-over-year real retail sales have remained flat or even dipped negatively in eight out of the last nine months. Nevertheless, retailers are continuing to announce expansion plans across various sectors, showcasing long-term confidence in both consumer spending patterns and the broader economy.
Unsurprisingly, Beck highlights that many of the fastest-growing concepts are attuned to the financial pressures faced by their customers due to inflation. Discount retailers are actively expanding their reach, with Dollar General, Dollar Tree/Family Dollar, and Five Below all outlining strategic growth plans. Some of these expansion announcements are recent, while others are reaffirmations of previously declared plans.
The report also highlights the expansion strategies of convenience store giant 7-Eleven, which is aiming to substantially increase its U.S. store count with approximately 6,000 new locations in the long term. In the same sector, Beck mentions that WaWa and Sheetz, two gas station concepts, also have significant growth in the pipeline. In the adjacent automotive sector, Take 5 Oil Change is set to open 950 new units in the next few years, while after-market auto parts retailer AutoZone is the most rapidly growing among the “big three,” with over 200 new stores on the horizon.
A standout tenant noted in the report is ALDI, which, even after the announcement of acquiring Winn-Dixie stores and converting many to the ALDI concept, still plans organic growth with approximately 120 new stores in the works.
In the restaurant category, only two casual dining concepts have substantial growth plans. Outback Steakhouse is looking to open between 75 and 100 new “next-gen” locations with smaller footprints. Texas Roadhouse is also expanding rapidly, with 280 new restaurants planned in the long term, focusing on smaller markets. Meanwhile, household names like Applebee’s, Cracker Barrel, Red Lobster, and Ruby Tuesday have either not disclosed planned growth or are closing locations.
In the quick-service restaurant sector, Beck reveals it to be one of the most active in terms of expansion plans. Bojangles, Chipotle, Krystal, and McDonald’s are scheduled to open 200 to 400 new locations each in the coming years. Slim Chickens, with over 575 new restaurants in its expansion plans, is actively pursuing nationwide growth and aims to reach a total of 750 units in the next 10 years. Starbucks stands out as the leader in expansion, with more than 2,000 new units planned across North America.
On the medical office side, Aspen Dental is on track to open 75-100 new locations annually, with planned expansions in Florida, Illinois, and other areas. However, according to the report, DaVita Kidney Care opened 10 new centers but closed 16 during Q2 2023. In the home improvement space, Sunbelt Rentals emerges as the standout with regard to store expansions, having already opened 34 locations and aiming to open an additional 200 sites by April 2024.
The story was written by Natalie Dolce and appeared on GlobeSt.com on Oct. 12, 2023.
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