TAMPA,FL-According to a new study just released by CB RichardEllis, 70% of retailers in the US believe that the overall economyis improving and 92% are planning to increase store openings.

In most of Florida, says David Conn, executive vice president inthe retail services division at CBRE in Tampa, many deep valueretailers, such as Family General, Dollar Tree, Big lots, Aldi’s,and TJMaxx have expanded aggressively during the recession, whileothers stopped expanding. The deep discounters could do this,because they work on low margins and can’t pay high rents, hesays.

Today, things are changing. "There is a cautious optimism amongretailers," says Conn. Most are looking a couple years down theroad, he says. "They’ve cut costs to the bone, so the only way toincrease their bottom lines is to expand. If retailers see a goodopportunity and the rent’s right, they will take it," says Conn."Rents have come down, on average, 30%," he says. Of course, theretailers which are just surviving can’t take advantage of thesituation, says Conn.

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