Looking for some good retail news? Marcus & Millichap has some. And in a bit of a rarity, it’s good news for brick-and-mortar retailers as well as online ones.
According to Marcus & Millichap’s research, retail sales in the United States increased 2.5 percent this March when compared to the same month one year earlier. This marks the fourth straight month in which retail sales rose by at least 2.5 percent on a year-over-year basis.
That’s a good sign. Retail sales only expanded by an average of 2 percent during the previous 18 months, according to Marcus & Millichap.
What’s behind this increase? Marcus & Millichap points to a jump in discretionary income. This makes sense: When consumers have more money to spend, dollars that aren’t tied up in mortgage payments, auto loans and student loans, they’re more likely to spend at their neighborhood strip mall or regional shopping center.
Ecommerce, of course, continues to lead the expansion in retail sales. This ecommerce boom, though, has been especially positive for the country’s industrial sector. Marcus & Millichap reported that more than 200 million square feet of industrial space is expected to be leased this year throughout the United States. This will drop the national industrial vacancy rate to a low 4.9 percent.
Where are the biggest sales increases coming? Marcus & Millichap says that miscellaneous store sales, which includes florists, gift, office and used merchandise sellers, posted a 9 percent year-over-year increase in March. That’s a big jump from the 20-year monthly average increase of 1.7 percent.
The Goodwill thrift store chain is becoming an important player in this space, Marcus & Millichap reported. The company plans to expand its retail operations and enter the ecommerce space this year.
Not all retailers, though, are seeing sales increases. Marcus & Millichap said that sporting goods, hobby stores and booksellers continue to struggle, with their sales falling 5.6 percent this March when compared to the same month a year earlier.
Despite this, Dick’s Sporting Goods is a bright spot. The national chain plans to open about 20 stores in 2018. Though this is a bit of a slower pace than what the chain originally announced for this year.