The Palm Beach County retail market has felt the impact of thecoronavirus, which has brought stores and restaurants to close inthe second quarter.

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These closures were intended to decrease the infection and deathtoll. Unlike Miami-Dade and Broward counties, Palm Beach has hadsignificantly less COVID-19 cases and deaths, and has been able toget a head start on its road to recovery by opening earlier.

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Central to the recovery to the retail market in Palm Beach wasthe Paycheck Protection Program and rent abatements from landlordsto help them stay afloat. While some stores ultimately closed,countywide initiatives, such as "Palm Beach County: StrongerTogether" campaigns have driven traffic to local businesses,according to a report by Colliers International.

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Now, many businesses are relying on recent trends to help themsurvive the effects of the pandemic until there is a vaccine forthe coronavirus. Colliers is expecting thevaccine to indirectly restore new constructionactivity and decrease the vacancy rate in the county.

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In Palm Beach, the lease deals in the second quarter were in theworks before the coronavirus outbreak, the report stated. Theseinclude new leases with over 58,000 square feet by Spirit Halloweenin Royal Palm Beach and 13,000 square feet by Rooms to Go in BocaRaton.

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The two largest sales transaction in the second quarter involvedWalgreens buildings. in Delray Beach, it sold for $8.1 million or$564 per square foot, according to the report. While the secondinvolved a Walgreens in North Palm Beach that sold for $6.9 millionor $482 per square foot.

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"For investors," the report stated, "Walgreens is an attractivetenant and would be considered a safe investment with a stable,recurring cash flow, even in times of the pandemic."

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The Colliers International report predicted that retail centerswith "essential" business tenants, such as grocery stores, areexpected to perform well in the next couple of months. Meanwhile,experiential and entertainment-based retail will struggle.

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Some of the trends that could help retail tenants have been theacceptance of new trends, such as contactless payments, curbsidepickups and drive-thru models for in-store collections. Thesesocial distancing trends are a hedge against the traditional retailmarket operation.

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For instance, restaurants have found success from GhostKitchens, which means offering delivery instead of relying onscaled back dining inside the restaurant to comply with socialdistancing safety measures.

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A second trend that has driven sales is on-demand delivery. InApril, online grocery sales for home delivery and store pickupclimbed to a new record. The report stated that sales were $5.3billion in 30 days, representing a nearly 40% increase within onemonth.

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Michael A. Mora

Michael was born and raised in South Florida. He went to undergrad at Florida Atlantic University and earned his master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He is a litigation reporter for the Daily Business Review, as well as an editor for ALM Global. You can email him at [email protected].