The Coronavirus Pandemic Reshapes Retail

As many states look to reopen portions of their economies in the coming weeks and months, the team at Ground + Space are diligently tracking the effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on the commercial real estate industry across various sectors. Although the idea of returning to work is a welcome one in this uncertain economic climate, it’s important to acknowledge that companies will return slowly to an environment forever changed by this virus.

Post-Pandemic Outlook

According to reporting by the Swiss money manager UBS, the retail industry in the United States is heading towards a major shift. Current estimates show that the country stands to lose anywhere between 11 percent to 17 percent of its total store count by the year 2025. (This estimate is based on projections that e-commerce penetration will rise to 25 percent by 2026.)

Companies and retailers that already boast strong online operations and logistics networks—like Amazon, Walmart and Target—have continued to thrive during this pandemic as more and more consumers shop online. These powerhouse retailers are poised to take over market shares left behind as brick-and-mortar retailers close their doors.

The Continued Rise of E-Commerce

E-commerce sales have steadily risen over the past decade. As of the third quarter of 2018, e-commerce sales reached approximately 16 percent of total retail sales in the United States. This trend of rising e-commerce sales has accelerated considerably in response to the global coronavirus pandemic. Stay-at-home orders across the country that have stopped all non-essential business. These conditions have forced retailers both large and small to quickly adopt online marketplace platforms to service customers.

As households across the country make the shift to more online spending, struggling retailers will be forced to either pivot towards an omnichannel approach or rationalize their store counts and future brick-and-mortar expansion plans. Retailers like Macy’s, Inc. and JCPenney Company, Inc. have already made plans to close stores, and other vulnerable retailers are likely to do the same throughout the remainder of 2020.

COVID-19 Impact Across Retail Sectors

Each segment of the retail market landscape is feeling the effects of COVID-19 in different ways. If the UBS estimates are indeed correct, the loss of stores and revenue will be most pronounced in the following sectors: apparel and accessories; consumer electronics; and home furnishings. Because retailers like these make up a large portion of tenant rosters in enclosed shopping malls, many struggling regional shopping centers are expected to close. The retailers expected to weather the storm include essential businesses that are allowed to remain open during the global pandemic, as well as non-essential retailers like home improvement stores and automotive parts stores. Ground + Space has several listings available featuring retailers that are in a prime position to succeed in a post-pandemic economy.

Stay Informed

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers daily updates and other information about COVID-19 symptoms and testing in the United States. Johns Hopkins University (JHU) has created a resource to help inform the public and advance comprehensive understanding of the novel coronavirus and its effects backed by experts in global public health, infectious disease and emergency preparedness. Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) continues to track the number and location of confirmed cases of the virus across the globe.

How can Ground + Space help?

Ground + Space is a leading commercial real estate firm that specializes in single-tenant and retail NNN investments. Our team is committed to providing up-to-date information and best-in-class services to clients during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The market changes daily, so please contact one of our brokers for specialized guidance during this time.