We’ve watched it on the news, read about it in the papers and have seen it in person. Several large retailers in Central Pennsylvania have made the decision to close their doors, such as Sears, Kmart, and hh gregg, as well as a growing list of other retailers struggling to stay in the black.
The landscape of retail real estate is changing, and with that the market is reacting. While some retailers are looking to move out of brick-and-mortar locations, other mega brands like Amazon are looking to move in. What does this mean for the future of retail real estate, specifically here in Harrisburg, York and Lancaster? Let’s take a look at changes that have taken place and trends that have emerged over the last 12 months.
The Harrisburg retail market has gained 162,000 square-feet of new space in the last 12 months. However, in this same amount of time, the market was only able to absorb 110,000 square-feet, causing the total net absorption for the quarter to drop to a negative 153,000 square-feet. The 4.2% vacancy rate is an increase from the recent low we saw in Q1 2017, when it dipped down to 3.7%. Though the market has 0.0% rent growth, there has been $82M in sales that is almost double the historical average of $52M. Harrisburg has just 1 under-construction retail property that will be delivered in 2017 and will add 12,000 square-feet of unleased space to the market. Though we have recently seen quite a few closings of retail locations, there remains more than 20 proposed projects for new retail space including general retail, community centers and strip malls.
The York retail market has gained 27,000 square-feet of new retail space over the last year, with a 12-month net absorption of 152,000 square-feet. The total net absorption for the current quarter is negative 10,000 square-feet. York’s vacancy rate is a bit higher than Harrisburg’s at 5.7%, but over the past 12 months, it has decreased by 0.6%. The market experienced a very small rent growth of 0.1% and did $19M in sales in 12 months’ time. York County has 4 under-construction retail properties that will be delivered in 2017-2018 and will add 264,217 square-feet of mostly unleased space to the market.
In Lancaster County, 34,000 square-feet of new retail space was delivered to the market in the last 12 months. The 12-month net absorption is 169,000 square-feet and the total net absorption for the current quarter is negative 13,000 square-feet. Lancaster’s vacancy rate is much lower than York and Harrisburg, coming in at 2.4%. In the last 12 months the vacancy rate has decreased by 0.6%, reaching its lowest point back in Q4 2016 when it was 2.3%. Like Harrisburg, Lancaster did not experience a rent growth in the last 12 months, but did do $39M in sales. Lancaster County has 5 under-construction retail properties that will be delivered in 2017-2018 and will add 159,500 square-feet of space to the market, more than half of which is preleased.
Trends & Overview
In the current market, each city has its strengths and weaknesses. Harrisburg has the highest 12-month sales of the three, but the lowest net absorption for the current quarter. Lancaster has the lowest vacancy rate of the three, but has relatively unimpressive new construction projects, sales and rental growth. York has the most new retail space scheduled to be delivered in the next few years, but has the lowest 12-month sales of the three.
All things considered, each market appears to be stable and poised for additional growth. Vacancy rates have remained mostly the same or experienced a decrease, the markets are demonstrating their ability to absorb most of the new space that is being delivered, and there continues to be under-construction projects and plan for new space. These indicators provide us with confidence that real estate investors, developers and retailers continue to see value in doing business in Central Pennsylvania.
Between Harrisburg, York and Lancaster, the area offers some unique benefits including more space and at a lower cost compared to big cities. We are also a main corridor for commuters and travelers going to New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Simply put, Central Pennsylvania has the right combination of resources and advantages to remain a vibrant location for retail growth.
Do you agree? What Central PA market is having the best year so far? Share your thoughts by commenting below!