BOSTON-The retail market here is relatively robust, according to Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Brokerage Co., which ranks the area fourth in its 2003 National Retail Index. That is a jump of three spots from last year in the analysis based on projected supply and demand during the next 12 months.

While the market saw a loss of 38,270 jobs last year, employers are expected to hire back 36,000 by the end of the year, Marcus & Millichap says. “While job loss contributed to a slowdown in retail sales in 2002, sales still increased by 1.5%, to $80.4 billion,” according to the company’s report.

Another 1.5 million sf of retail space is being added to the market this year, following 2.4 million sf last year, Marcus & Millichap notes. However, the Encino, CA-based company suggests the new space will not hurt the market.

After rising 3.5% last year to $19.06 per sf, average asking rents are projected to rise another 3% in 2003, Marcus & Millichap forecasts. Meanwhile, vacancy rates are expected to rise nominally to 7.0% by the end of the year.

Boston trails Washington, DC, which claimed the top spot for the second straight year, as well as Orange County and San Diego in the 2003 National Retail Index.

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