Report: U.S. Retail Sector Faces Uphill Battle

Recent economic volatility could lead to a retail slowdown, according to Jones Lang LaSalle’s Late Summer North America Retail Outlook.

“Consumer and investor confidence will remain low as long as uncertainty regarding global debt issues and other economic issues remain unresolved, resulting in continued sluggish retail sales that do not reach 2010 levels,” said Greg Maloney, CEO and president of Jones Lang LaSalle Retail, in a statement. 

Retail outlook highlights:

  • The national retail vacancy level did not change from last quarter’s 7.1 percent, though it has posted a year-over-year drop of an impressive 30 basis points.
  • Store closings are decreasing, but the total square footage of space to be closed has actually increased to approximately 31 percent last quarter (or 0.2 percent of total U.S. retail space). This points towards the growing trend of retailers downsizing their store footprints in favor of smaller, more efficient locations. 
  • E-commerce in the U.S. increased 12 percent in the first quarter of 2011 over the year-ago level with total revenue of $38 billion. This growth was almost double that of physical store sales, as gas price increases reduce the amount of store trips and customers seek out better deals online. ?
  • Mobile commerce, or m-commerce, has grown 25 percent in the last six months, by far the fastest growing channel. 
  • Despite this high projected growth rate, m-commerce still makes up a small percentage of total sales—estimated at only 2 percent for this year. By 2016, this percentage is expected to rise to 7 percent.