FORT LAUDERDALE, FL-Most retailers and restaurant chains in South Florida are sketching their New Year expansion plans in light pencil this season as the bulk of the sales are modest and some are declining, A.T. Toroyan, a principal of Rotella Toroyan Clinton Group tells One thing is clear, the broker says: Retail growth has diminished in the third and fourth quarters.

“We expect an increasingly competitive market to yield cautious expansion plans for many retailers and restaurant chains,” Toroyan says. Certain big box segments, such as furniture, home furnishings and consumer electronics are seeing steady sales increases, while a consolidation in other areas such as pet supply stores and party goods, are slipping.

Additionally, the broker says, “declines in consumer spending on apparel and footwear may translate into an increased supply of big box retail space.” Specialty retail and lifestyle centers are on the rise “and with the problematic nature of the theater industry, they are predominately being driven by music, booksellers and restaurants,” Toroyan tells .

South Florida rents have stabilized in most submarkets with relatively strong gains in a few select trade areas. “Absorption levels are strong, leaving little quality product available,” the broker says. Big-box space should see a slight increase in second-generation supply, but prime local space continues to have demand outpace supply.

Investment sales are “robust with good overseas demand and continued domestic support, some of which has been fueled by tax-deferred exchanges,” Toroyan says. In general, as South Florida’s economic base continues to broaden, so does its year-round population. “This new younger demographic profile contributes to a more diverse economy, with high discretionary incomes fueling retail and restaurant growth,” the broker says.

Most recently, the telecommunications industry “has spurred our growth and given some developers a unique avenue to utilize technology companies for what might otherwise be typically considered less desirable big box space,” Toroyan says.

On the industrial side, his firm is clipping along, recently closing on two deals for Home Depot. The total 35.7 acres are valued at $6.74 million.

In Palm Bay, FL, the Atlanta-based home improvement chain paid the Dilley Trust and Gil-Mar Associates of West Palm Beach $3.24 million or $164,721 per acre ($3.78 per sf) for a 19.7-acre tract at the southwest corner of Malabar Road and San Fillipo. The store is scheduled to open in the first quarter.

In West Palm Beach, Home Depot opened a new outlet at Okeechobee Boulevard and Jog Road. The retailer paid Okeechobee Parcels Ltd. $3.5 million or $218,750 per acre ($5.02 per sf) for the 16-acre parcel.Rotella Toroyan Clinton Group is a member of the national RealSource brokerage network.

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